House Progress Four: Emotional Fallout

When anybody goes through a stressful event like this, there is bound to be emotional fallout. And we’re no different.

I knew this, as soon as I rushed home from work to find three trees smashed through my home, I thought, Oh shit, what’s going to happen to us now?

My son, Henry, who’s always had anxiety issues, is now terrified of storms. He is literally shaking when he hears thunder or sees lightning. He runs around the temporary apartment, closing all the blinds. He cries, he shakes, he is terrified.  And I am terrified, because I don’t know how to help him.

He’s had anxiety issues for a while, but it’s never been incapacitating like this. I was getting phone calls from his teacher at school. He was staying inside at recess because he was afraid to go outside.

I talked to his doctor and she recommended a therapist. The therapist told us to buy this book, which is really awesome if you’ve got a little worrier on your hands:


And then, of course, there’s my marriage.

I knew this would be hard on my marriage.

We were finally in a really good place in the house. We were happy. We had struck a balance, finally.

Now, we are fighting again. Bitterly. Each of us is upset, each of us is angry and frustrated. We know this and we’re trying really hard not to take it out on each other, not to let all the constant problems with the insurance and the contractor and the bank bubble up and explode, but they are.

My friend was describing another couple he knew who fought all the time and he said, “If you fight that much, why are you even together?”

It’s a logical point.

But I also think most marriages aren’t perfect. Most marriages are work. Married people fight.

“If you aren’t breaking the dishes every once in a while,” my cousin Gail said, “you aren’t doing it right.”

Well, we are breaking the dishes all over the place right now.

My question is: how much? How much breaking the dishes is too much? And how much is just enough?

I don’t know, but I’m trying to figure it out.

I think that’s why I’m so desperate to get back into the house.

I’m frantic, calling the insurance, calling the contractor, calling the bank, trying to keep everything moving as quickly as possible so that we can move back into the house before my entire family implodes.

There is some comfort in knowing this, but it doesn’t really change the fact that we’re living in this tiny space and blowing our tops all the time.

It doesn’t make the dry-wallers move any quicker or the cabinet maker finish my kitchen cabinets any faster. They’re all going at their own pace and they’re going to keep going that way, no matter how many screaming matches my husband and I get in.

Even when we move back in, there is going to be so much to fix. There are going to be so many problems and things in the house that aren’t done. I think about the boxes the mitigation company boxed up: all of my ruined belongings. I saw an open box and it was filled with mildewed papers and broken toys. That’s what I’m going to be opening up when we finally move back in.

This storm is something that will go on and on and on. It’s something that we’re going to have to learn how to live with until it becomes like a second skin, until it becomes as normal as our lives used to be.

We’re not there yet. Not even close. But we will have to be, if we want to get through this together.

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