For anyone who knows me, and I mean really, truly knows me, I have beaten major adversity before, time and time again, with a positive attitude. This flood thing is really kicking me to the curb, though. My husband practically demands me to be positive, and I really try. It's difficult though. Yes, most of us are safe. Houston and my area of town sustained a major flood on Memorial Day and it devastated about 4,000 homes in my area. There are so many of us who are now driven out of our homes due to repair and elevation requirements post flood that we have to walk away from our homes and our neighborhoods. Yes, we are officially, unequivocally, homeless.
Perhaps this latest calamity is hitting me harder because I am older, menopausal, and my nervous system is different. I have gotten more sentimental as I have aged, perhaps too much so, and I am having to leave sentimental things by my curb to be hauled away. It is like away taking pieces of my heart.
I was sentimental too about my home. If you saw just a few photos I posted on my blog and Facebook, there were many happy occasions and millions of wonderful memories and yes, sentiments, tied to my home. I have lost my home -- I must move, and it may never be my home, my address, or my area of living ever again. Those words are a bitter, bitter pill and even saying them is fraught with tears.
There was also a comfort level of being at my home, a routine tied to it, a sense of well-being of knowing I was in the right place at the right time, surrounded by community, friends and neighbors, as well as convenience to my life and work. I loved being in my neighborhood in my wonderful home.
All that of my lovely home is now gone -- snatched away from me in an event of a few hours. Imagine being robbed and pillaged, and stripped of so much you hold dear. Imagine one day having a home and then the next day homeless, due to ruthless ravaging by a weather event. Then perhaps you can get an inkling of not just what I am going through, but also tons of others who flooded who are in the same boat as me.
I had a dear person who works for me stop by my office today and she cried along with me as she is also a flood victim who is losing her home. She wanted understanding and hugs from someone who could really relate. She told me her relatives and friends say stupid things because they can't relate to what she is going through. She spoke of the phrases, "all new things" and "new adventure" and "blessing in disguise" and I shouted that I understood and felt the same way. Just seeing how deeply I understood her pain relieved her for a few moments.
No matter how positive you expect me to be about this, no matter how positively you want me to face my future beyond this horrific event, give me and my work friend, and others who are in the same boat -- losing their precious homes -- time to grieve our lost lives without telling us it is a whole "new adventure."
This "blessing in disguise" is so well disguised as we are in the thick of this heartbreak that it looks like the blessing is disguised as the devil himself.
And as far as being an adventure, it is actually, right now, an adventure through hell. I would not wish this "adventure" on my worst, worst enemy, let alone a good friend.
It is an adventure through nightmarish expenses that is our money spent going into a trash bin and lost forever never to be recovered. (Expensive appraisals, demolition and restoration done for naught for example.) It is an adventure of red tape, documentation, and tireless sorting, packing, hauling and cleaning.
It is an adventure through having all the remaining belongings you have boxed up to where you can't know where anything you might need could be accessed. Life is packed up in mystery boxes because we had to manically shield everything from the demolition team and drywall dust and get everything salvageable tucked away.
It is an adventure of musty, moldy smells that linger on things you still haven't sorted through because there aren't enough hours in the day. You have to keep working and keep up with all of life's responsibilities plus deal with this mess.
It's an adventure of living in a house that is broken down to studs, with some drywall dust, bleach, and musty odors thrown in. Yet you remain there because there is nowhere else to go for right now.
It's an adventure of worrying about my dad who is living on his own due to displacement from our flood, without a caretaker even though he needs one and I am stretched too thin to get over there as much as I want. (He lived with us prior to the flood. New caretaker search will have to wait).
It's an adventure of trying to find a spare moment, any moment to think clearly and rationally about where you will be ending up next, and just having mental confusion because you were exactly where you wanted to be before but you were driven out, and can't even fathom another spot.
It's an adventure of stepping out your front door and being hit in the face with piles and piles of remnants of all of your neighbors and friends homes, knowing that they are going through this same grief and trauma too.
"But you still have your health!" some say. Isn't mental health important too? Isn't anyone worried about the mental health of those suffering like me?
It's an adventure through a weakened and compromised immune system due to multiple severe stressors coming all at once. It's trying to keep a solid meal down despite a stomach that is as frazzled as your brain.
It's an adventure of not having your brain fully attached and worrying you may get into a car accident because you are so zoned out with so many pressing details along with a feeling of profound displacement.
It's an adventure of having so much stress in a short period of time, including the care taking and well being of my elderly parents, homelessness, and losing so much in a short period of time, that a friend at Jewish Family Service reached out wanting me to come in for grief counseling before I exploded.
It is an adventure of only being able to sleep with the aid of sleeping pills.
I understand that people are trying to cheer us up, help us, and most do not know what to say to a victim of a storm devastation. I appreciate that, I really do. It wouldn't be proper to say negative things either. The generosity of friends and community is what has kept me going through this horrific ordeal. My appreciation for those helping can't even be described in words. It's not that I don't appreciate words of comfort.
I reached out today to a friend who had previously lost a home and she understood. She really did. I had virtual hugs from her just in her understanding what I am going through. And I guess that is why I am writing this blog today. Just having one person not in this current situation that my "flood buds" and I are in, and understand what I am going through, means the world to me. Perhaps this blog can help too.
To all those who have lost a home in a terrible weather event no matter when and where in the universe, no matter what it was that caused it, I now understand. And I am one of you.
Read my regular blog for all the other flood and emotions detail at www.arlenelassin.com