To read earlier entries about the tornado, click here.
Last night we met with our contractor, who brought up house plans for us to review and approve. The new layout of our house sees the kitchen in the back (where the old craft/toyroom was for those that are familiar with my house) with a dining area and living room infront of it. We will have a broom closet and a coat closet on the main floor, along with a small 2 piece bathroom just off the kitchen. The stairs will be at the back of the house, off the kitchen as well and the back door of our house will connect the kitchen with a little breezeway type thing for our barbeque and maybe a small patio table. The garage will be pushed back to be square with the back of our house, which will allow us to park both vehicles in the driveway without blocking the sidewalk.
The upstairs layout sees both kids rooms looking out on to main street, a bathroom beside one kid's room, and our room on the other side. Each kid has a closet in their room (something they have never had before) and our bedroom has a huge walk in closet. I have never had a closet in my bedroom in my life, until I moved into this rental home...certainly not a walk in closet. This may be my most favourite part.
The basement has a laundry room with bathroom facilities, a mechanical room and then lots of wide open space to finish into a rec room/toy room.
We reviewed and approved the plans last night after making a few minor adjustments and I was feeling the tiniest twinge of excitement.
And yet, I don't feel I should be excited. This is not exciting. This is not something that is fun. In any other circumstance, yes, planning your new home is exciting and fun and you should look forward to that.
But when I take the time to remember why we are doing all of this in the first place, I remember that we are doing all of this because we have to. Because a tornado made our house "structurally unsafe". We are doing all of this because we have no other choice. I feel like I can't get excited about this, I can't think of this as fun...it will minimize or trivialize why we have to do it in the first place.
So yeah...I'm not over it.
My evenings at home are spent just like those of most other parents. Ensuring homework gets done, practicing spelling words, preparing dinner, emptying and refilling the dishwasher and laundry baskets, refereeing (always, always refereeing), making lunches, choosing clothes for the next day, and reading bedtime stories.
As I drove my 3.5 year old son to daycare this morning, he asked me if the "storm" came because he was "bad". To him it was an innocent question that he just wanted an answer to. He wasn't crying when he asked it, he was naturally curious. He also asked where the storm's family lived and what time it went to sleep at night.
Yes, Social Worker friends, analyze away...
When I arrived at work and sat down in my office, alone, with a full docket of tasks to complete...I just couldn't. Here I was, alone in the quiet which I love, with hours worth of work to do at my own pace, and I couldn't focus. A coworker came in to confirm something I had asked her to do and when I went to answer her, I could only nod my head because the lump in my throat was so big I couldn't speak.
I work in a helping profession. That's what we do in our office, we try to help people, so of course, she tried to help me.
Once they started, the tears didn't stop for 2 hours. I ended up in 3 different offices, crying my way from one to the next.
I think what happened is that I was finally alone with my thoughts, with no one else demanding my time or attention and once I was able to focus on myself, my "self" told me loud and clear that I was not ready to be at work. I couldn't focus on putting together a newsletter, a craft for next week, a circle time for next week. I couldn't focus on tidying up the office or doing inventory. I couldn't focus on what needed to get done...I didn't even want to.
So I'm at home. Jack is still at daycare, and I am at home. Alone, with my thoughts.
I am okay. I will be okay. But I need some time to process through my thoughts, feelings and emotions. I cannot turn them off when I am at work.
I was off work for 3 weeks following the tornado, but in those 3 weeks I barely had time to sit down. I dealt with insurance adjusters and claims for both vehicles and the house, I packed up one house, moved into another and unpacked it, I cancelled all services to one house and hooked them all back up to the other, I worked at replacing 2 vehicles and all of the licencing and insurance that goes along with that. I met with 3 contractors, reviewed their plans, chose one and met with him again. I had my daughter's birthday to plan and deliver, we prepared for the first day of school and I transitioned my son into a new daycare. We had a family wedding and yes, I have a husband but my husband had a large number of obligations that left him unavailable to me throughout at least half of that.
Those 3 weeks off were, by no means, holidays.
I returned to work last week, feeling as though things had settled down enough here that I could focus on my work...but it took me all of about 2 days to realize I couldn't. My head and my heart just aren't there right now, and in the job that I have they absolutely need to be.
Society expects you to just pick up where you left off and return to the life and priorities you had.
I can't do that right now.
Thank God, my employers understand completely and were not at all surprised. A few of the key people have been through some pretty heavy situations in their own lives and understand well that this is a process, not an event.
I cannot give all that I have to both my personal life and my professional life right now. That doesn't make me weak, or make me dramatic or make me lazy.
It makes me human.
If someone doesn't understand that, or thinks I am overreacting, or thinks they would react differently, they are welcome to my shoes for a few weeks...although I think it would take only a few days.
You know, the shoes that aren't ruined by broken glass, insulation and fibreglass.
Just because everything appears to be back to normal, doesn't mean it is. People may wonder why I am blogging this, writing it all down, putting it out there for everyone to read, discuss, maybe even criticize.
I am doing it for me, because it is therapeutic and helps me gain perspective, I am doing it so that I have it years from now because I know I will want it and my kids will be interested in it, and I do it for you.
Because I think it's important for you to understand. Especially those of you that don't live here. And by here, I mean St Patrick St, Picton St, Arthur St, St David Street, Oxford St, Park St, or on or surrounding the Square, in Goderich (I'm sorry if I missed any areas). You've seen the pictures, read the papers, watched the videos. The "shock value" has wore off. Unaffected people say that have a hard time watching it on the news, hearing the stories, even reading this blog. It's too hard for them.
But there are still people dealing with it. These are people's lives.
My intention here isn't to make you cry. Isn't to have you private message me or call me or discuss my wellbeing with others. To look at me with pity in your eyes or ask what you can do. My intention is to have you understand and to really think about what this would be like if this were your life.
Before anything else, before I am an employee, a helper, a friend, anything...I am just me. I am a 31 year old wife of 8 years, mother of 2, country girl who is working through something not many people I know (outside of this town) have. Actually, even half the people in this town have no idea what some of us are going through. And if I want to remain that person, I need to take care of that person.
Tonight I will take my daughter to her extracurricular activity, have dinner, prepare clothes and lunch for the next day and read bedtime stories, just like every other night. Tomorrow morning I will get up, get dressed, prepare breakfasts, take my son to daycare and my daughter will go to school, just like every other day.
But I am not going to work tomorrow. I need time to myself. To do with it whatever I wish, as long as it is on my terms.
This...this is the real work that takes place after the tornado. Stuff that isn't cleaned up by a chainshaw, isn't healed with a hammer. Fundraising dollars don't touch this, and all the insurance you have doesn't matter.
There is no Building Permit for rebuilding yourself.
What you need can't have a deadline, can't follow the expectations of others and can't be faked.
What you need, is Time.
Thank you to all of you who have felt compelled to share this story by posting it on your own facebook page or emailing it to others. Thank you to those who have been moved enough to leave a comment on here and on my facebook links to this blog. I am encouraged by them every day. If you would like to leave a comment, I would love for you to leave it here on the blog, not on facebook, as those are lost to me after about a week. Thank you.
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