She's amazing, but she's afraid.

August 27th 2011 Hurricane Irene hit our home. Above was the picture I was able to take the morning after --as soon as my phone was booted up from the charge in my van. That single act of gravity and wind changed our lives in a ton of little ways and a couple of big ones.

Some good things came from that destruction. I was forced to pitch a lot of material goods. I had to edit our possessions quickly and without the benefit of electricity. And yes, that was good. It taught my whole family that home is about the people you love, not the place you stay.

I became more vocal in general. I refused to back down on anything because it was up to me to make sure that the insurance and builders and school stuff stayed in order. I went toe-to-toe with an intimidating, vile con man. I won. My kids didn't miss a holiday, a homework assignment, anything while we were in transit. First we lived in a hotel. Then a third floor apartment.

Eventually we were back in our house, I had to re-edit the possessions coming back in. So many of the things I had to hold other things were destroyed. The yard sale I could have had...oh well. Then  a fight of a different type approached as the con man's thefts trickled down to us. I was on the phone, fighting a high priced lawyer, who tried every dirty trick in the book to sue us for something we had already paid for, with a receipt to match. I made him my bitch as well. In the throes of the back and forth, where I used my knowledge of the post office services against his arrogant ass, he offered me a job. I turned him down.

It's getting hard to picture the old house, sitting in the new one. I longed for this feeling, having the whole mess behind us. And all that fighting I was doing, it had a pair of huge green eyes driving me on, my girl was having issues.

My daughter was always an anxious child, but the experience of the storm and the aftermath broke something in her. And that's really the fight I wanted. This thing that made her so afraid, I wanted to fight that. But it's in her pretty little head. Her gorgeous heart starts to race and I can't fight her heart, I'd never want to.

So here we are 2014, years later. I'm still battling this thing with her. I never want her to think she has to do it alone, even though I'm afraid that is the only way she can truly beat it, or learn from it. Control it, maybe?

I wish I knew how it was from her side. My son had the same experience. Noise for noise, loss for loss and yet he rolled through it easy. But he's easygoing in general, it's a personality trait for him.

I'm grateful that I learned that anxiety looks so much like misbehavior. But that you deal with it in the exact opposite way. I can spot a panic attack like hers from a mile away now.

Back in 2011, after the house was safe for us to re-enter before they demolished it, I handed her Sharpie markers and let her use the walls as her canvas. I expected puppies. Maybe the cat. She loved/loves drawing animals. Instead she painted the walls with the pain she carried.

I wish there was a simple answer. That there was something I could do or fight. And of course I'm grateful. We are here, we made it back to the neighborhood, we're home and have been for almost two years now. But today has me frustrated. Looking for answers. For now I look at the pictures above to try and help me have patience. To try and figure out how to help.


  1. And she IS amazing! The fight against anxiety and panic disorder is not a steady climb, but pitted with peaks, plateaus, and some unexpectedly shitty valleys and pitfalls. I can tell you that your love and unwavering support will do more to carry her when she can't hold herself up — even if she doesn't realize it. Encourage her to express her fears because while it's really goddamn hard sometimes, it ultimately helps. I speak from experience! <3 HUGS.

  2. Few things are harder than watching your child suffer. You are an amazing, strong woman and you are raising her to be the same.

  3. I'll never forget your story--have repeated it to many--and wish there were words of wisdom I could offer, but I'm sure you've heard plenty of those already. I do hope you know that you have a lot of people out here who, though we've never met you in person, care about you and are so relieved for you and your family, and that we wish you healing and happiness. My heart breaks for your girl. I can't say I blame her--your story was harrowing, just reading about it, let alone living it. I hope as she gets older, she learns, as you said, to control it and maybe even move on from it, but in the meantime, all I can say is just let her know you're there for her if she feels like talking, and just love her. I'm sending you good thoughts!



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