does time really heal ALL wounds?

Posted on Nov 15, 2011 in Ramblings

We were incredibly fortunate this past May.

At the end of a terrible day of thunderstorms, our apartment building was hit by a very weak tornado. No one in our complex was injured. The last of the repairs and inspections were finished up last week. If you drove around now, you’d never know something so destructive tore through here six months ago.

I remember my heart pounding so loud and so hard that I legitimately was worried that I was going to have a heart attack. I remember Babyface wrapping his arms around me and Puppyface as tight as he could while our roof ripped off. I remember hyperventilating when we stepped out onto the street and realized just how extensive the damage was. I remember walking through the flooded streets in the pitch black, hoping there were no live power lines in the flood waters.

There are a lot of things I remember from that night and the days after. But one thing I wish I didn’t remember? The fear.

Growing up, I was always afraid of storms. I grew up in a mobile home, and there are few things more terrifying than weathering a Midwestern severe storm in a wooden box on cinder blocks. The fear was so paralyzing that I became embarrassingly hysterical even when storms hit while I was at school. Even after we moved into a new house with a sturdy basement, it took years to feel safe. By the time I got to college, I was vigilant, but not fearful, but it took a long time to get there.

In college, a tornado hit my home town. It ravaged my college roommate’s parents’ house back home (we were best friends in high school, hence the college roomies thing). After we found out that their house had been hit, I tried desperately for an hour to get in touch with my parents (who live just down the road) and by the time we could finally get connected, I had worked myself into a hysterical mess. I was determined they were trapped under the house and I was 90 minutes away at college.

All turned out okay (except for, you know, the destroyed house) and amazingly enough, my childhood fear of storms stayed in check. Sure, it was a scary event, but not enough to spiral me into a fit of paralyzing fear. I felt recovered. I felt matured. I was so proud of how I handled it.

Understandably, I expected to come through the other side of “my” tornado with the same poise. The twister that hit my hometown did a lot more damage than the one that hit us this May. Logically, you’d think that it’d make less of an emotional dent.

Emotions are, by their very nature, illogical.

 

When severe thunderstorms came through last night, I found myself worked up into a vintage Cass panic attack. I regressed. As soon as the tornado watch was announced, my heart started pounding. I wanted to call my Mama. I wanted to spend the evening in the bathroom. I wanted to call up my friends and find someone with a basement. I checked and re-checked our jump kit. I wanted Babyface and Puppyface within arms reach at all times. I all but begged Babyface to come home from work early. Most of all, I just so desperately desired for it to be over.

So maybe I’m not as recovered as I thought.

Does time really heal all wounds? Will I feel better about this in a month or a year? At what point is it no longer normal? Could it be that there are certain wounds that don’t heal, even after the longest time?

I don’t know. But I do know I’d be nice to figure out what is going on by spring, or it’s going to be one very long storm season.

What are you afraid of?

 

8 Comments

  1. I never got over my fear of tornadoes when I lived in Indiana, so I definitely understand. I freaked out every time the sirens went off, and I’d hide in my bathtub until they stopped.

    I have a huge, huge fear of flying. We went to NC from this past Wednesday to this past Saturday and I shook like a leaf the entire flight down there. And on Saturday, I was so scared and shaking and crying that we up and rented a car and DROVE back up to NH (yes, 14 hours) because I was just too scared to board a plane. I wish that I didn’t have this fear and I’m going to actively work on getting over it, but I understand the hysterical, paralyzing fear that comes with being so afraid. It’s awful.

  2. I don’t think the fear ever goes away; it just may get a little suppressed and easier to manage. I was rescued by helicopter (yay Blue Angels) from a rooftop during Hurricane Agnes in 1972–and I still have a visceral fear reaction every single time I hear a helicopter overhead.

  3. I’m so sorry you had to deal with all this destructive tragedy. I can’t imagine the emotions or feelings that you experienced witnessing first hand the strength and destruction that mother nature decides to put some of us through.

    Since I’ve never experienced such a tragedy first hand, I can tell you that time does heal all wounds. While time may heal the wound, the scar will always be there. How long will it take? It varies depending on its severity. You’ll know you have completely healed when a period of time passes, and the fear does not cross your mind.

    I was at Virginia Tech when we experienced that unfortunate event on April 16, 2007. I was not in the building when it happened. I was driving to campus when all the events transpired. I remember seeing the police cars flying by me from where the first even occurred to the other side of campus. I had a really good friend in the classroom where he tried to enter–but the bravery of the students to barricade themselves in saved all their lives. She has continued to live her life to the fullest (just the way one of our late friends taught us all to live). My GTA in my 2008 Fall Semester class was the victim seen in all the photos being carried out the building. Such a tragedy did not stop him from continuing on and pursuing his dreams. There were others affected that I knew from either working in the dining halls or through acquaintances. While I was not there first hand–I could only imagine what could have happened if he chose another time or place. Whenever I find myself slipping back into wondering “what if”–I watch this video, which always brings tears to my eyes. I hope that it might help you. Uniting the strengths of others with your own helps the wounds to heal.

    • I just can’t even imagine being there for Virgina Tech. Thank you for sharing this story and sharing that people come through the other side of tragedies with such bright outlooks.

  4. How scary! I’m glad no one was hurt. Tornados and earthquakes terrify me, though I’ve never been in one.

    What scares me? Oh gosh, where do I start? haha. I’m really bad at thinking of worst case scenarios, though I never actually say them out loud. I’m always terrified that the worst things will happen to me or to people I love (I guess it comes from my anxiety). It creates some awful nightmares.
    But at the same time, I’m kinda thankful for this hyper-awareness, because I never take my loved ones for granted. Life is really short, and I think it’s important to show affection, let go of anger, and love with abandon. My two cents <3

  5. Have you thought about seeing someone about your fear of storms? Phobias are conquerable. I got over my social phobias with help from a professional and very understanding friends. :)

    My family was hit really, really hard by The Recession. Mom lost her job, we lost our house, had to sell off a lot of stuff, I teetered on the edge of homelessness, my brother had to drop out of college (and actually spent a few weeks homeless)… it was hard.

    I have a terrible fear of going through all that again. In fact, it was a huge paradigm shift. I changed my degree to something more “employable,” picked up another job, and gave up a lot of my dreams in order to get into a stable career. I have panic attacks when I hear that The Recession is pretty much here to stay for a while. The Eurozone debt crisis? Keeps me up at night, no joke. I know this all sounds silly, but I’ve had this knot of fear in my stomach for two years and I’m not really sure it’ll ever go away.

  6. I used to be terrified of tornados. One went through my home town was I was 4 or 5 and we saw the destruction before we knew how bad it was. For years the sound of the tornado siren caused me to panic. It’s gotten better, and a few years ago I purchased a house with no basement, which is very uncommon in my area. The odd thing is that this house is so sturdy that I’m not nearly as worried as in my old house, where it seemed everything shook and rattled when a storm came.

    Now I’ve developed a fear of snakes. I have tons of harmless garter snakes in my yard and I’m terrified. I thought I was getting over it, and then this fall there were over a dozen snakes, some a few feet long. I no longer go in my yard, and gardening used to be one of my greatest joys. I’m glad it’s turning cold and they will be hibernating the rest of the winter, I don’t know what I’m going to do in spring.

  7. My mom was in the tornado a few years ago in Iowa that hit the Boy Scout camp and killed four of the boys. It was absolutely awful, and although she’s gotten a lot better, storms still make her VERY anxious. We were at a quilt show about a year after the tornado and it was just a regular thunderstorm approaching, a little windy, and she completely panicked-I was worried enough I called my Dad to try and figure out what I could do to help. Now, she handles storms better but is always very aware of the weather and gets anxious when there are tornado watches or warnings anytime where family lives (and since this is Nebraska, Illinois and Indiana it’s fairly often). Mom did go and talk with a counselor after the tornado, and I think that helped her better understand her feelings, and not feel as guilty for how she felt (I think especially since there were deaths, and she was one of the adults at the camp).

    My biggest fear is that my husband will get sick again. He was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder 2.5 years ago and completely disappeared for two months. It was absolutely the worse thing I’ve ever had to deal with. He’s back now, and on a treatment plan and doing VERY very well, but it’s still scary. It’s also hard to not over react every time he has just a normal bad or sad day (like we all have) and think he’s having another episode.

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