It’s been almost 2 months since I’ve published a blog post.
To my regular readers, I thank you for hanging in there with me.
My family and I were affected by Hurricane Michael, we can no longer live in our home and our lives have been turned upside down.
Today I’d like to share my experience with this life altering event. I’ll get back to my lighthearted, mom life and fashion posts, on a regular schedule very soon, but it will take time to get our lives back in order.
We treated that day just like any other time we’ve evacuated from a hurricane. Yeah, yeah..ok kids grab a few things, we’ll be back in 2 days. No big deal. Blah blah, we know the drill. Grab your blankets, your pillow and a few movies to watch in the hotel. We won’t be gone long. And no, don’t grab all that stuff, put it back, we’re coming right back home, nothing to worry about. This is what I told my kids and what I’ve always said.
Little did I know, Michael was going to make me a liar!!!
We headed to Georgia. As usual, it was like a field trip, got some “fun” snacks, and played guessing games on the way.
For our family, evacuating from a hurricane has never been cause for alarm.
My husband was born in Florida and has lived here his entire life. I’ve lived here for 17 years. We were both fairly desensitized when it came to hurricanes. We’ve stayed during some storms and have left for some. This one, at the time I decided to convince my husband that we needed to evacuate, was only forecasted to be a category 2. We were not in a mandatory evacuation zone. While still not “safe”, I instinctively knew we needed to leave.
By the time we made it to Georgia, it was a category 3, later on it became a 4. Still, in my mind, everything was going to be fine. We don’t live directly on the coast. No worries…. I thought.
As we pulled up to our hotel, my husband’s phone rang.
From that point on, my knees felt as though they could no longer support my weight. It was the alarm company calling to say the alarm was going off because the windows upstairs were either broken or vibrating. Wait….WHAT?!!!! Was this really happening? Yep, then it really hit me, this was real, this was not a drill.
I did not see our house for a month. I only saw photos of the damage.
My husband didn’t want me going by myself…in hindsight, it was the right call. When the time came, I drove in our second vehicle behind him. If he wasn’t ahead of me, I would have been LOST!!! I did not recognize ANYTHING!!! Street signs, gone! Landmarks, gone! The entire neighborhood looked completely different. Can you imagine that…feeling like you cannot find YOUR OWN HOUSE!!.
What would you do? How would you feel?
I felt the walls closing in…I had to focus on finding some joy to be present for my family, in one of the worst situations that we’ve ever faced. I’ll be totally honest, it’s still a work in progress.
After 3 weeks of feeling sorry for myself, and being a single mom, kinda sucks btw,..but my hubby had to be back at work and saw us on weekends… I decided it was time to get a grip and change my thinking. I sat down and thought about what made a difference in the way I felt during this time. I tried to think of anything, big or small, that helped me feel any degree of joy or normalcy. Even if it was only for a little while.
Don’t get me wrong…yes, I’m IMMENSELY grateful. Grateful we are alive. Grateful that even though 75% of the interior has to be gutted, our house is still standing. Grateful we have a place to stay. But there were days where I was so deeply affected and wanted to curl up in a ball to wish it all away. But I’m a mommy and I had to find ways to gain perspective and be present for my kids, at least until I’m able to do it for myself.
I set some very small goals in an effort to begin feeling like myself again.
PRAY, PRAY AND PRAY SOME MORE!
Pretty simple and oh so necessary.
DETOXIFY YOUR FRIEND CIRCLE DOWN TO THOSE WHO TRULY SUPPORT YOU
This is a BIGGIE! You know those “friends” or family members in some cases, who have nothing positive to say…ever? Those that seem to take some degree of happiness in your misfortune? They don’t ever seem to be your cheerleader. The ones who, if you sat down and gave it some deep, thorough thought, you’d describe as toxic. You know who they are!!! This is the perfect time to cut them loose!! Or at the very least, keep your distance.
You need your real, true, ride or die friends around you. The friends who offer genuine, unselfish support. You know the ones, they’ve seen your ugly cry face and love you anyway!
It’s so ironic, catastrophic events have a way of allowing you to see who your true friends are. In my case, some that I thought were very close, have fallen exceedingly short, and others have genuinely stepped up and have pleasantly surprised me!!!
FIND SIMPLE THINGS THAT FEED YOUR SOUL: MUSIC, MOVIES, BOOKS
You know that thing that touches you deep down in your soul….that feel good place? For me, it comes from my love of music and being able to really belly laugh. I’ve been listening to 80’s & 90’s hits and Christmas music while I do any chores and have The Proposal, Elf (best Christmas movie ever!!) and The Holiday on repeat!
Also… maybe “feed” your face too!!!!! That piece of chocolate cake calling your name and you NEED to do a little stress eating? If not now, when??!!??
PS…I said a “little” so maybe not the whole cake in a day, have a little self respect, maybe give it 2 days….
SWALLOW YOUR PRIDE AND ASK FOR HELP
This is a huge issue for me. My hyper-competent, over-achieving, middle child, caribbean pride has gotten in the way of asking for help, most of my life. But major life events such as these, have really shown me, there is no shame in accepting help from others. It’s taken me a lifetime to realize, I’m not Superwoman…although, I still like to think I’m some sort of Marvel Super hero!!…is Anxiety Girl already taken ?!??!!!!
LEARN TO LET GO OF THE BIG PICTURE AND APPRECIATE THE SMALL THINGS
As someone who plans everything way in advance, this feels hypocritical to say, but I’ve learned to TRULY appreciate the little things now. Things that I once took for granted are now so much more meaningful. I don’t obsess about planning every moment, I stop and enjoy every.single.small.mercy!!
FIND A WAY TO LAUGH
It really is the best medicine.
Striving to help others and making a positive difference in someone else’s life, can alleviate any feelings of hopelessness or uselessness in these situations.
For me, helping children, regardless of life’s circumstances, will always take priority. If you’re inclined to help salvage Christmas for kids in our area, please donate here
As is true in any life changing event, allow yourself to accept your feelings as perfectly ok. Do not feel ashamed for feeling whatever you’re feeling, sadness or anger are perfectly normal. Even feeling relief that you weren’t affected is completely fine.
May seem strange to say that positives came out of this destruction, but there were silver linings all around. There was no access to technology for weeks (power outages and no wifi signal). When’s the last time you really sat down and played a board game with your kids, or put together a puzzle as a family? I’ve heard so many stories of families reconnecting this way.
Even things on a more simplistic level. I had a massive wardrobe, and lost half of it. Feeling disgust over having so much STILL left when there were so many who did not have anything, I donated even more. The feeling of having so much less “stuff” has been incredibly freeing.
Life now is far from ideal, but to those of us who survived this catastrophe, we will once again find joy and adjust to our new normal.