Random thoughts and musings of a single Mom striving to follow dreams and find pure BLISS.

5 Years Ago

*Disclaimer* If you think Katrina hit and destroyed New Orleans you should stop reading here because I'll know you are reading and it will just piss me off...

 My life naturally separates into two parts-Pre Katrina and Post Katrina. For years I pushed every thought, every emotion surrounding "the storm" that shattered my life, as well as so many lives, in twain.

I've denied myself the luxury of examining my feelings for five years now, so perhaps it's time for a bit of reflection-honest reflection. You see, faithful few, I had to be strong and take care of business when it happened (because my ex decided to be completely weak and useless) and a few months later I found out I was pregnant with my son. That was definitely NOT the time to become overly involved with my emotions-they were very occupied by hormones. (BTW, NO, T was not a Katrina baby. I had been off bc for over a year trying to have a baby; the timing was just ironic.) After that I was just told to get over it…now I think I just might.

August 29th marks the 5th anniversary of Katrina demolishing the Gulf Coast, namely the Mississippi Gulf Coast. You see, the eye of Ms. Katrina passed right over Bay Saint Louis, MS, damn near over the roof of my house to be exact.

Yep, I lived in a little rental house in Bay Saint Louis, south of the tracks. Now on August 30th the only thing left of that little house was a couple of walls (literally a couple), moldy wood and plaster, piles or bricks, and a yard dotted with Trivial Pursuit cards. Well, and of course all of my material possessions ruined and waterlogged throughout the house-3 days of clothing, photos, and my car are the only possessions that made it out. Oh, and the roof was perfect....I do so love irony.

I know it was perfect because I saw it on Google Earth when I was staying at TB’s house. (TB is my aunt.) I remember being SO excited that it was there. Feeling hopeful, I so completely crushed when I realized it was all a lie. That everything wasn’t going to be ok after all.

I remember driving into the town and not really understanding what I was seeing, but I still felt that it would be ok. I really did. I was really naive.

As I crested the tracks, I remember looking out and seeing the water. Again it didn't make sense. I'm not supposed to see the water. Where are all the houses? My brain was just not registering the piles of wood and bricks as the beautiful homes I had coveted and dreamed of owning one day were gone. They were just not there, just vague shells or shadows of what had been their former glory.

It was at that moment, at the top of the tracks, that I realized nothing was going to be ok. I felt my heart sink to my feet and my whole body began to shake. This just can't be happening. Please God this just can't be happening. Don't do this to me, please.

Every sense and sensation in my body shut down as I pulled into the driveway and looked at what was left of my former home. I knew even then it was my former home; that I would and could never live there again. How could I? Destruction of that nature can't be undone. Nothing would ever be the same again. Nothing.I didn't know just how right I was thinking that.

Before we'd even looked over the whole house I was ready to go. I just wanted to leave. The need crawled under my skin and spread until I could no longer feel my body. It was like I was no longer really there. I kept looking around for the camera crew and cheesy host with slicked back hair and toothy grin. Where was he? It's too much and now someone needs to tell me this is all a joke! Maybe I just need to wake up. Quick, I have to wake up or be let in on the joke before I throw up. Shit like that just doesn't happen. It just doesn't.

My chest hurt. I felt like I was drowning and I had no idea whether it was the suffocating heat and humidity or the overwhelming sense of life never being the way it was before.

By the time we stopped at St. Stanislaus and I saw that the ex would not be returning to work because there was only rubble where the band hall had been, I couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t want to see anymore. I didn’t want to feel anymore. I just wanted to get in the car and drive until I couldn’t’ drive anymore. I wanted to be anywhere but on the Coast. Please God, if this is really not a dream and not a colossal joke, please just take me away from here. Please take me away.

I saw my (then) husband starting to unravel and knew that I had to be strong. I had to carry the weight. I had to “fix” everything. So, I plastered a timid smile on my face and asked to leave.

We drove to Pearl that night. I couldn’t face going to Pascagoula because I couldn’t trust my childhood home to be safe and I knew I couldn’t handle seeing it destroyed. (It was fine. No damage. No water. But lack of cell service prevented me from knowing that.) Unknown to me, the ex had used this to his advantage and used my dropped basket to plant a seed of hurt and doubt in my heart, claiming that family members had betrayed me in the worst way. That they were ashamed of me and would never accept me-only he would ever love, support, and understand me. Admittedly I was too addled and too damaged (and too busy trying to be a good wife) to see through his lies and allowed this to take over my heart until I could finally see him for what he really was…umm, that would be a liar.

I’m thankful for the three days I spent with Aunt Jan and Uncle Wayne in the aftermath. Uncle Wayne explained everything that was wrong with the investigations while watching CSI and Aunt Jan told me stories about her experiences after Camille. I remember allowing myself to cry in the shower that first night; so happy to have air conditioner, so happy to have hot water, so happy to not have to face the ruins of my life for a little while.

Knowing that you will never be taken care of, that you will never be allowed a moment of weakness because the person who’s job it is to help you is weak. I wasn’t 100 percent sure at that time, but I am now. That experience defined my marriage. I worked. He drank. I white knuckled myself controlling my fears and emotions to keep my world together. He allowed himself the luxuries of unraveling that I was never allowed to have. I think that was actually worse than the storm itself; knowing that everything I thought I had up to that point was worthless. Four years of empty.

Thank you God that I now can put that pain behind me and I can begin with a new slate-even if it is five years too late.

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