Monday, May 23, 2011

The Rambling Calm AFTER the Storm

Oh yeah...I remember this feeling...

I keep thinking "once X is over, things will be okay"--with "X" being a fill-in-the-blank of life happenings such as comp exams, deployments, bad days...

I've recently blogged about my efforts to come to terms with the fact that things just don't settle down.  Period.  And I need to stop looking at that supposedly greener grass on the other side.  And now, I'm in what was supposed to be the calm AFTER the storm.  And, on that point, I will digress just a bit...

That big storm that hit us a few weeks ago--utter craziness--is a great metaphor for this attempt I am making to be okay with the stress that encompasses my life right now. 

I'm sure most people have heard the phrase "the calm before the storm," to illustrate when you know something big is coming even if life is relatively quiet at that given moment.  Well, my life has been filled with calms AFTER storms.  I am usually immersed in fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants adventures between mommyhood, work, school, and military wife life.  And then, sometimes unexpectedly, things seem to slow down--and that's hard on me.  I apparently thrive on having things to do--right now.  It's when I slow down that the stress intensifies.  During the crazy times, I'm just trying to get through the minute--get done what is due here and now.  But when things slow down, my mind takes over.  Unfortunately, though, in this lifestyle, it never really stops.  So, the big exam is over (for now), but now I realize all of the things I put off preparing for that one day--like keeping the house organized, preparing other manuscripts, being the mom and wife I want to be. 

So, this calm AFTER the storm has hit me pretty hard--not to mention I am back in my hometown awaiting my mom's homecoming--which keeps getting pushed back--AND (I can't even believe I am writing this because my fear runs so deep I don't even want to dance around discussing the topic) there are people on my mom's hall who are getting the (gulp) stomach bug...and it's spreading.  I'm a wreck.  I know I need to be there (like physically, on the sick-hall) for my mom, but that fear is elevating my stress to dangerous levels!  Anyway, this "calm" is taking a toll on my sanity...just like that storm. 

Back to the actual storm: There was no calm before that thing hit our house--it had been windy, raining, thundering, etc. all day.  Schools asked parents to pick kids up early, after taking shelter for tornado warnings earlier in the day.  It was a crazy day to start off with.  And then THE part of the storm that rocked our world hit--and it was scary--the scariest weather I have ever witnessed.  So, we took shelter in our little downstairs bathroom (without windows)--all of us, including the dogs.  And, from our hideout, we could hear the storm--the wind, the hail.  It sounded like someone was shooting our house (and it looked the same once we caught a glimpse).  But, possibly the creepiest part was how it stopped. 

It just stopped. 

We sounded like we were in a war zone (which was verified by my husband who has been in such zones)...and then, nothing. 


I was scared we were in the eye of the storm (which I'm not even sure that storm had an "eye" but after living through many hurricanes in Florida, that was my terminology).  I wouldn't release us out of the bathroom for a while--the quiet was the creepiest part of it all.

When we finally went out of the bathroom, we looked out the windows, and eventually made it out to our yard--where all of our neighbors were doing the same thing, crunching through the hail.  We could see each other through the steam rising from our damaged yards.  We all made sure everyone was okay.  (Greatest part of life in the 'burbs: your neighbors make sure you are accounted for after a natural disaster.) There was this smell in the air--I can't describe it--I'd never smelled it before.  My neighbor and I decided THAT was what creepy smells like.

But other than our crunching through the hail and our voices, there was cars, no animals, no sounds of life.  And, as I mentioned in my previous post, WE are the LUCKY ones.  In our calm, the storm left our houses standing (though severely damaged) and our loved ones, though shook up, were safe.

So now, in my life's latest "calm" after the storm, I am living in a perpetual anxiety attack.  The exam, the semester, and so much of the craziness from the past year is over. No transition, no outlet, and I won't know if I passed that exam for another month (or more).  There was no closure.  It's sort of like the time when Buzz comes back from a deployment.  It's exciting--I'm glad he's home, just like I'm glad this chapter is over (unless I didn't pass that exam and have to do that part all over again).  It's a great milestone.  It's good.  But it's different.  Just like when he comes home, we hug, and we go home--but there's no transition, no closure or outlet for all of the stress I bottled up for the entire deployment. I guess all of this points to the fact that I don't handle stress well in the moment OR after, huh?  :P

I'm on edge; I'm shaky; I'm nervous.  There is nothing that has to be done RIGHT NOW but so much on the to-do list.  The exam is over, but the work doesn't end.  My mom's surgery is over, but the recovery is in full swing.  And, of course, Buzz is not here.  Nope.  The Marine Corps always takes him when I feel like I need him most (which, in fairness, is always, so it's not like there's ever a good time for him to be absent from our lives--but it happens so often and it always seems like a really bad time). 

Am I crazy?  Probably...but I'm also human.  And I need to work on finding internal calm in this stressful calm after the storms of the past few months.  I don't know how to do it.  But the first step is to stop dwelling on it here in my online outlet.  So, Step 1: stop rambling; Step 2: deep we go...

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