This one has nothing to do with running. Or food. Or being healthy. This is strictly life-casting. I’ve been stuck for the past few days on what to blog about and the only thing that has been on my mind in the past year and what our town has done to rebuild after last year’s disaster with tornadoes. Throughout the year, I’ve made some update posts. At three months, I still felt lost and was in the process of trying to just shove it all down into that place we put stuff we don’t want to deal with. At six months, I finally felt like progress was going on, it was my favorite time of the year and everything looks better with a pumpkin close by. Even panic attacks aren’t so bad with a hot chocolate and fall leaves surrounding me. At that point in time, I still had trouble driving in the most devastated parts of Tuscaloosa but I could see how quickly the clearing and rebuilding was going. I could see life happening. I could see life moving on and that included me.
And here it is one year later. I’ve been avoiding the news all week. This is probably the first time in 7 years that I’ve gone a whole 6 days without checking in with James Spann and the weather blog/twitter/FB. I just had this instant negative reaction all week to anything about the storms and the anniversary. I’m tired of waking up in a cold sweat at 2am. I’m tired of hearing a local DJ’s voice and almost running off the road slapping the radio buttons trying to change it. I’m sick of having these anxious panic episodes and trying to find the closest Coke and crap food to “calm my nerves”. I’m tired of not feeling okay when these episodes happen. I’m tired of feeling like I’m in a battle with myself when my preacher talks about the storms and I clench my jaws to keep from crying and screaming at him to stop and talk about Jesus, the leper, the widow, or ANYTHING but the storms. I’m just tired of the whole thing. I honestly feel like that now the urgency of the storms is over, why am I not all better? And I’m not. Otherwise, I would sleep a whole week without dreaming about them.
And it’s not the actual storm. It’s not the weather. I’m pretty calm during storms and bad weather. It’s not the weather. It is the days and months after. It’s the first 5 days after. It’s the sounds. The sights. The smells. My most common dream is not being able to reach children behind a fence. I have the supplies they need. But I can’t get over that fence. It goes all the way up to the skies. I climb and climb with a pack over my back and I can’t get over that fence. I see the faces of people I saw during those days. I see them behind the rows of kids. Other dreams are flashbacks to things we saw and heard the first day we were allowed into Alberta City. I won’t go into detail. Let’s just say wailing sirens make me physically ill.
I think one of my problems is that I don’t feel like I’m worthy of being so ripped apart, still. I wasn’t trapped in my house and seriously injured like Miss Bobbie. I wasn’t left homeless like one of my closest friends, Kaye. I wasn’t physically harmed at all except for some sunburn. All we lost was power for 5 days and some back porch damage. So many more people had it a lot worse than I did. I’m still alive to tell about. I don’t feel like I have the right to be so affected, still. But I am.
But I think maybe my biggest problem is that instead of dealing with it by talking about it, I’ve been trying to ignore it. Instead of changing the radio station, I need to listen to the DJ and start replacing those days of disaster coverage with current news he’s speaking about. It’s okay if I get upset. People get upset. It happens. And my car is not the only safe place to cry. I’m surrounded by people who can listen to me when I just need a couple of minutes to talk and then go on. Instead of avoiding going to another building for church services because it’s hard to hear how the storms have changed us, I need to let them help me. And on days when I’m feeling stronger I need to help others. True service is a great healer. Avoiding the issue is not working out so great for me. These members are my friends and family. We survived and endured through a devastating tragedy and not 1 person was left untouched by it. I highly doubt I’m the only one still struggling. And I doubt I’m the only one trying to shove it down in that deep hole that I feel like I’m about to fall in.
So what is next? I’m going to work on me. Instead of denial, it’s time to face it. If it happened again tomorrow, am I in a good place mentally and physically to help like we did last April? Not really. And that scares me more than my dreams. Not being able to help is not possible for me. That’s a non-negotiable. So I need to get my head right and that may mean opening up more to others about this. I need to get my health right. And I’m the only one that can do that.
One year later. And here is the video of the past year. People who are FB friends, it has already been posted there. This one is more personal to our church family. It takes a while to load since it’s HD, so I apologize for bad video details 🙂
Monday 30th of April 2012
((hug)). I can't even imagine what that must have been like a year ago, or what you've carried with you for memories and fear etc since then. You have the right approach, I think, in not running from it, but facing it. Sending strength!
Sunday 29th of April 2012
Proud to call you a friend and sister! You are definitely not alone in the struggle and you are correct that keeping it all inside is not healthy. Thanks for sharing the video!