Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Fire, Revisited

As some of you may know there was a fire in my complex on Monday. It started a few houses down and stopped about 35' shy of my front door. The kids and I were evacuated and it was the scariest thing I had ever been through in my entire life.
Today, almost a week later, one of the neighbors was having a bonfire. Since the weather is gorgeous we've had our windows open all week and the smell of smoke drifted into the dining room as we were eating dinner. For me this created an instant panic response. I jumped up from the table so fast that I smashed and sliced open my knees, ran to the front door, threw it open, and before I knew it, I was on the sidewalk turning in circles and scrutinizing every house I could see for signs of danger.
My family was very fortunate. Nothing of ours was damaged and except for a slight smoke smell that dissipated within a few days we were unscathed. Our neighbors and friends were not so lucky. After all was said and done five families are homeless. One family lost everything they had, including a cherished pet, and the other families have been spending their week coming back to the complex trying to salvage whatever small amount of personal belongings that they can.
All week I've been watching my friends walking back and forth to the dumpster with their heads hanging low as they throw armful after armful of what was once treasured memories over the side. It is heartbreaking to witness. They look up and their eyes are empty and dead. The despair is palpable. The neighborhood is silent and still. No more kids riding bikes and playing loudly outside. No more cars driving. It's almost like a ghost town. All of us still here try to offer help, a smile, water, food, clothing, anything we can think of, even though we know that nothing can fix this. Nothing will ever make this ok, and nothing can erase this from their minds.
What I remember most is how fast it was, even though in the moment time seemed to be dragging on and on, when I was allowed back in my house only about two hours had passed. Two hours was all it took to completely change lives. Just two hours and life was altered with no possibility of going back to what it was before, not for us and certainly not for our neighbors. For the house where it originated, it started and everything was gone within 45 minutes. I've never seen anything be that destructive in such a short time. Yes, I realize that tornadoes, tsunamis, etc are much faster, but none of those have ever happened next door. This was the first disaster I have ever witnessed first hand.
It left an impression that I'm not sure I'll ever shake and maybe that's good. Maybe I can turn this into a positive thing. It has already made me much more aware of what's going on around me and maybe once the sadness passes it will remind me how quickly everything can be gone and I can gain some perspective and appreciate the time I've been blessed with. Maybe.
For now, I'm still scared, and I feel guilty for that every time I talk to my neighbors or help haul a box to the trash. For now, I feel hopeless. For now, I want arms big enough to wrap up the world and protect it the way I do my children. I want to heal them and I want to help them and I have no clue how to accomplish any of that.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Confessions of The Makeshift Mom

I really like lists. I have a notebook full of lists. Things I want, things I need to do, things I should buy, things I should avoid. I have daily lists, weekly lists, monthly lists, and seasonal lists. I make lists for fun. Sometimes I make lists about making lists. I will rewrite the same list 3 or 4 times just so I can get the bullets equally spaced or make my thoughts follow a clear pattern. I probably have a list disorder. That being said, here we go- (and I didn't rewrite this one so it jumps around)

I am very high stress. I am just not happy with myself unless I have multiple projects going at the same time. Projects can range from moving furniture and redecorating to getting the house set up to adopt a baby. Once a project is done I fall into a depression until I find the next project.

I am very hard on myself. I have gotten to the point with it that I have had to seek professional help at times. I have a voice in my head that never stops and it says things like, "You're stupid.".."You've got to be the clumsiest person alive".."You're ugly"... "That wasn't good enough. Who are you trying to kid? You're never going to be good enough."... "People are never going to like you." This voice has been with me for as long as I can remember.. or at least since 6, which is my first concrete memory of it. I am so hard on myself that I constantly judge how I'm sitting, how my mouth moves when I talk, how I walk.. everything. It impacts my social life and my life with my family. I have been completely alone and tried to switch on the light but missed the switch the first time and I have felt my face burn and the tears well up because apparently embarrassing myself in front of myself is just too much for me to handle. Yes, little things like reaching for something and missing it will cause me to get teary and I will replay it over and over again in my head for weeks (literally) and beat myself up over it. I will think how no one that witnessed that could possibly like me, they're going to think I'm clumsy and stupid. They're not going to want to see me again, they will stop loving me. Little things send me over the edge so when someone actually does criticize me, it's life altering. I can't get it out of my head. I remember every criticism I've ever received since grade school and I STILL listen to them over and over.

I have battled eating disorders since middle school. It started as anorexia, but on my 17th birthday when I passed out at Target and hit my head on a shelf and wound up in the hospital and my mom found out- she made me stop. Ever since then I've gone back and forth between being anorexic and being an overeater. My weight fluctuates by over 100 pounds depending on the year.

I pretend to be strong. I pretend to be funny. I pretend to be a bitch. I pretend to not care. But the truth is that, while on the outside I appear to have it together and I appear to take nothing from no one, I internalize everything and every word stays with me for years. I am fearful, I am weak, I want to be loved but I don't think I know how to accomplish it. I want to live a life that makes people sit back and say 'wow' but I don't think I'll ever get there.

I may be married with kids and living life cleverly disguised as an adult, but I'm still that broken child who couldn't save herself, and maybe I never will. Maybe I'm never going to be amazing, maybe I'm never gonna make a difference. Maybe more people will hate me and maybe my next project will fall apart. If that happens I'll pick up the pieces, paste on my fake smile, and carry on like my world didn't end. Exactly as I always have.

And maybe, just maybe, all that matters is that I continue to carry on. No matter what.