Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Feelings You're Feeling - part 2 to Sandy Survivors and all survivors of tragedy

The feelings you’re feeling

As people outside of the affected areas of Sandy move further and further away from the event, you are still reeling with emotion. I thought it was the beginning of the end of the world when Katrina hit. I had evacuated to my sister’s home. She lives in the country and has a lot of land. Most people would think I would have felt safe and peaceful. I felt alone and desperate. I remember a couple of days after the storm, a man came to my sister’s home and was talking about how the state of Alabama was going to experience a black out because something important that we needed to power the state had been damaged by the storm. I remember my sister kept looking at me. I know now that she was more worried about the fact that I was hearing this than if it might really happen. It was the first time in my life that I felt like I was going to pass out. I had to keep telling myself not to lose consciousness. My sister did the best thing she could do which was to take me upstairs and call someone she knew who was involved with the power company. He reassured me that this was just a rumor. My world and everything in it was crashing down on me.

Please know that whatever you are feeling is normal. No matter how you feel, its ok and after a while you will start to feel better but there is a grieving process. Each person who went through this horrific storm experienced something different. Each person was in a different place in their life and has a different way of dealing with emotions and what’s happening to them.

I was in a very fragile state. I was fragile right when it happened and for a very long time to come. I had just given birth 8 weeks prior and my precious little girl had pretty severe reflux. Her reflux had already caused a good deal of concern and stress. I probably had some level of post partum and didn’t even realize it. In addition, I had just found out that my 2 year old had been involved in an incident at daycare where one of the teachers and the school cook had locked her in a closet. When the storm hit we were in the middle of an investigation into what happened. I have never discussed that incident with anyone. I share it with you now because I know some of you aren’t just going through the storm. For some of you, there is a storm within a storm. I fought my way out and so can you. We all have a choice and the choice is right now. You can sit there and feel sorry for yourself or you can pull your sad self up and fight.

In the days and weeks after the storm, I felt more and more sad. I had a hard time connecting with my baby. I had no patience. I remember my 2 year old needing to take a nap and I couldn’t get her to fall asleep. I was so tired and she was crying. I yelled at her to go to sleep as loud as I could. Her eyes flew open wide. She had never heard me yell. I fell to my knees next her bed and laid my head next to her and cried. I remember her putting her tiny hand on my head and patting me. I wanted to have a nervous breakdown, I thought anything would be better than feeling all of the feelings I was having.

I knew right then that my kids needed me to be strong. I knew that I had to make this better for them not for me. I prayed for strength and answers. I preach to my employees now that you have to fake it till you make it. I don’t mean be fake; I mean fake the feelings you want to have. Force yourself to fake feeling strong and happy and the more you fake it, the more you believe it and the more it becomes reality.

I did just what I’m telling you and it worked. It worked when I fought with an unprepared and untrained insurance adjuster at my lost home, it worked when I fought to get my mortgage company to write a letter stating I was legally required to pay off my mortgage with insurance funds so that we didn’t lose eligibility for an SBA loan, and it worked when I fought to put my life back together over the next year.

Later this week I will post about my experience with insurance companies and what you need to know to protect yourself. My prayers are with you as you recover and rebuild.