Tornado Damage – Losing Much More Than A House

Posted: May 23, 2011 in Love and Marriage
Tags: , , , , , , ,

It’s amazingly ironic and completely coincidental that as I am writing this, Joplin, Missouri is attempting to clean up from a horrific tornado that claimed many lives and wreaked unimaginable devastation. 

I helped my wife move into her new apartment, which was a gut wrenching experience that I didn’t truly grasp while it was happening.  I only knew that I was driving the truck that was moving the dearest person on earth out of my home and into a place where I may or may not ever get to live.  I had to keep my emotions in check, both for the sake of the family and friends who were also helping her move, and for my wife, who was billing this as a celebration and a chance to find a new start. 

We did, in fact, celebrate that night with Champagne and strawberries. My wife was very sweet and encouraged me that the plan was for it all to work out in time.  I ended up staying the night and through the weekend, and although we weren’t close like we used to be, it convinced me that maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all.  Then, suddenly,  the weekend was over, and I was in no way prepared for the good-bye or the devastating words that came out of her mouth.

She told me that she didn’t know when we would see each other again and that she no longer felt about me the way she once had.  She said that she used to be proud of me and look at me and think, “That’s my guy,” but that she couldn’t feel that way anymore.  I told her I didn’t think she had felt that way about me for a very long time and that was one of the reasons I had gone astray, but she told me that she had felt that way even while we had been living in Republic. 

That knowledge crushed me.  I left the loft in utter devastation, not comprehending how I could have been so blind or lost that I hadn’t realized that even recently, she had still been trying to get me to love her the way she needed, while I had viewed her as detached and uninterested.  Furiously, I racked my brain for the answer to one question.  When had I  gone wrong and turned down the path that had led us here? I could only come up with one answer. 

On March 12, 2006, we survived a tornado that went through our house while were inside.  We laid on top of our kids in the hallway while the house exploded around us.  We both expected to die in those moments, before we found ourselves homeless in the middle of the night, but alive.  About a year later, we had replaced our things and were living in a different house and outwardly, everything seemed back to normal.  Inside, it was a different story.

We had lost a lot more than a house and some possessions in that tornado.  Things weren’t the same.  Life no longer seemed to have any special moments, and almost all of the things we used to enjoy were no longer part of our lives.  Something was missing and I couldn’t even identify what it was, much less figure out how to get it back.

About this time, some friends were visiting and I shared what I was going through. They suspected that I was experiencing PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder.  They recommended talking to a counselor to get through whatever lingering effects there might be.  As was my typical way of operating, I did nothing. 

I could only find one possible event that altered not only our lives, but our relationship, and that was the tornado.  I still wasn’t sure how or why I had become a different person after that, but I had.  Somehow, that experience had changed me, and not for the better.  The next step for me would be to do what I should have done years before.  Face the problem and deal with it.

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