Hurricane Harvey :: Flood of Emotions

Oh, Houston. My dear, beloved, beautiful Houston. I sit here typing, with tears streaming down my face, and it’s almost as if my words are failing me. It all just seems like too much, doesn’t it? Facebook feeds are being filled with horrific stories, pleas for help, and volunteer and donation opportunities. We are glued to our televisions, looking for any news about our homes, places of business, state of family and friends, and more. We are on multiple group texts, sharing needs, stories, and where to buy milk. And, most importantly, we are still mamas, trying to keep our kiddos aware of what’s happening, but at the same time wanting to shelter their little minds from all the horror. It’s just too much. 

The emotions are overwhelming, aren’t they?

A little backstory on me… Twelve years ago, my husband and I lost our home and about 90% of our possessions in Hurricane Katrina. It seems surreal to sit here and see another epic catastrophe on our hands in the VERY city that welcomed us HOME after that devastation. That said, this time I’m on the other side of things – we did not lose our home or anything of value. So I feel like I can speak to both sides of what many of you are feeling. Those who lost and those who didn’t. So I just wanted to put together a little list of what it is OKAY to feel during this time. Your emotions matter, they are valid, they are REAL. 

It’s Okay To Feel :: 

  1. Angry :: It’s 100% okay to be completely, totally, and utterly pissed off. Can I say that word? Yup. Hurricane Harvey gives you all the passes. {Use those by the way.}  You feel angry that this is happening to you, to your family. You feel angry that your community is going through this. You feel angry because life used to be normal a week ago. Embrace that anger. Go outside and scream. Kick something. IT’S OKAY.
  2. Devastated :: This one should go without saying, but feeling devastated is normal. It’s beyond sadness. You feel like your entire life has been wiped away in just a matter of days. Your very livelihood has been stripped from you. It’s a whole other level of sadness you are experiencing. Heart-wrenching for those who lost everything and then heart-wrenching for those who didn’t but are paying witness to it. IT’S OKAY.
  3. Guilty :: This is a huge one. You may feel guilty because you are displaced and can only watch the news and not help.  You may feel guilty because you “only” got a few inches of water and you know someone down the street who got it up to their ceiling. You may feel guilty because you are so consumed that you feel like you aren’t being the “best mom” or the “best partner.” You may feel guilty because you didn’t flood at all, and your community is beginning to “look” normal. You may feel guilty because you are able to get out to the store and buy the necessities for your family when you know people are still stuck in their homes, praying for the water to recede. IT’S OKAY.
  4. Helpless :: If you flooded, you have this feeling of floating in a complete pool of helplessness. We are supposed to be in control, right mamas? We are the ones who figure things out. Only this time, this scenario, we can’t. We can’t stop the rain, we can’t fix it like we are so accustomed to doing. It’s beyond us. Beyond our grasp. Sure, we can organize, we can share links on Facebook, we can hire contractors to get out to our homes, pray, and so many other things. But it seems like it’s not enough. Helplessness when we watch the news and see yet another neighborhood going under. Helplessness when we see another family airlifted out. Helplessness when we hear that yet another friend has lost everything. IT’S OKAY.
  5. Relief :: Maybe you feel relief. Maybe your neighborhood didn’t take water. Maybe you are just relieved your family is together. Maybe you are relieved that your community is showing up in droves to clear your house. Maybe you are relieved that you have flood insurance. Maybe you are relieved that you can go out and do very real things to help people. Relief. IT’S OKAY.
  6. Overwhelmed :: There is SO much to do. Maybe you are categorizing and taking inventory of everything you lost. Perhaps you are trying to line up people to come repair your house. Are you working to get supplies to first responders? Where do you take them? Who needs volunteers? Who needs help? How can I help? You are inundated with coverage of things you can’t help, and it is overwhelming. The needs are so big, and on a scale you truly can’t comprehend. Your brain and heart feel like they may burst simultaneously. IT’S OKAY.

Friends, I could write a novel about what’s OKAY during this time. But you know what is OKAY? EVERY.DANG.FEELING that you have right now. Don’t let anyone tell you how you SHOULD feel. It is real, and it should be validated. I can assure you of that, having seen and experienced both sides. May I encourage you, mamas? No matter what side of the flood equation you fall on, please take a moment for YOU. Self care can quickly fall by the wayside in times like this. You want to go, go, go. Do, do, do. No human is meant to do that for days and days on end. You need sleep, you need restoration, you need a moment of normalcy. Please don’t feel guilty about taking care of you. Your family needs you to be at 100%, and you can’t be if you are running yourself into the ground. Take the nap. Go for a walk. Have a neighborhood gathering. Sip that wine. Turn off the TV. Sign out of social media. Read a book. Call a friend. Pray. RESTORE YOURSELF. Promise. IT’S OKAY.

What I can promise you? We will survive this. Houston Strong is not just a cute hashtag. It’s absolute reality. In the last 7 days, I’ve seen more strength in people than I knew possible. I’ve witnessed humanity on an entirely different level. You may feel all of the above emotions today. You’ll probably feel them tomorrow. And likely for the next few months. But I can tell you, one day, those feelings will slowly recede, much like the flood waters that have seeped into every crevice of our being and our beautiful city. As we’ve seen, the sun will shine again. And when it does, lift your face up towards the sky, remember where you live #hoUSton, who you are, what you have, and breathe that in. You WILL survive this. It will be OKAY.

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