the exile

Yesterday afternoon we moved into our second cramped two bedroom hotel suite, which is our home-away-from-home for the next few days. Weeks.  Crap, maybe months.  I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that the water from one load of laundry has done enough damage to displace us as our house is torn apart and put back together.  We are waiting on results from some asbestos testing, which will reveal whether or not our furniture has to be put in storage while our drywall is ripped out.   Every room has several fans sucking moisture out of the air, and the whole house smells like mildew.  Once the drywall is removed, there will be several more days of “drying out”, and once our house is good and sober we can talk about putting the floors back in.

The last few days were hard.  Harder than they should have been.  Over the last couple of months, I’ve become more and more aware of the PTSD that is lingering.  I could say it is from the earthquake – but really, it’s been around much longer than that.  I’m carrying around baggage from Mark’s car accident, from my miscarriages, from Jafta’s contested adoption . . . stuff I’ve shoved aside for years. The earthquake was the cap on a long line of traumatic events, and really escalated me from “neurotic and on edge” into the full-blown “post-traumatic stress” category.  I went to a seminar recently on adopted children, and they presented a list of symptoms that children who have experienced trauma might display.  I identified with every symptom.  The difficulty focusing. The lack of short-term memory.  The hypervigilance.  The irritability. The anxiety.  The fear of something bad happening.  I was prepared for an adopted child to be dealing with these issues.  I don’t think I was prepared to be dealing with it myself.  It’s no wonder Kembe and I are bumping into each other’s issues.  I have a lot of empathy for the behaviors that he shows that are a result of trauma.  Unfortunately, I often feel compromised by the fact that I am dealing with the same junk.

When I walked into the hallway on Thursday, and felt the water sloshing at my feet and wicking up my jeans, I immediately found myself in a panic.  It was an irrational panic.  Granted, having your house flood is a stressful event, but on scale between 1 and 10, with 10 being the earthquake, I would rate this at a 3 or 4.  But as I assessed the damage, as I found my hallway full of water and the rug in Jafta’s room afloat, I felt a scream forming at the back of my throat that had no place in a situation like this.  And as I packed our belongings to relocate us for a while, I had the same cloud of dread hanging over my head that I did trying to re-pack my bags on the lawn of the embassy in Port-Au-Prince.  It is frightening how quickly those feelings can be brought to the surface, and how difficult they are to suppress, even though I can cognitively identify the fact that my current situation is materially different.  I was at a level 10 all weekend.  I have slowly been pulling myself back off the ledge, trying to keep this situation in perspective.  This flood is annoying and inconvenient.  But we are all safe.  It is not a crisis.  We will get through this.

At least that's what I keep repeating to myself. 

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