August is a time that’s generally associated with scorching heat, picnics, and the last few moments of summer before school starts. Seriously, as i sit here and think about my first semester of my PhD program starting in two weeks and summer being over I’m like:For me though August brings up a different feeling, the first thing that comes to mind is Katrina [the hurricane that is]. This month it will be nine years since the storm hit the Gulf Coast and most importantly to me, New Orleans. There aren’t enough words or poems or documentaries to express what going through an experience like Hurricane Katrina was like. Or what it is still like to have the remnants of the storm still lingering on you when you drive past the vacant building across the street that used to be a mixed use residence with a laundromat on the first floor and apartments on the second.Hurricane Katrina is still very real for me, the people around me, and any one who was in New Orleans when the storm hit. People have coped with it the best way they know how, some just don’t talk about it, some have talked through it, and some have just moved past it by trudging forward with their readjusted life.
It would seem that nine years would be enough time for me to heal from the storm. It has been more than enough actually. It took a few years to really process what I went through, what I saw, what I felt and that no matter how much I wished for things to be the way they once were, they never would. I got through it but I won’t say I’ve moved past it. I don’t think you ever really move past such a huge event. You can definitely move past the pain, it’ll eventually stop causing a tightening in my chest, but never really the event. I have healed from the storm, but I know there are several thousand people who haven’t. Some just can’t bring themselves to talk about it and face it, some can’t truly believe they went through such a traumatic event, and some have just never really bounced back. They’re going to have to work through it in their own time.
Nine years later, I’m thriving, New Orleans is steadily getting bigger and better and those who stuck with the city through the storm and after are making it. Having such a traumatic and jolting experience still fresh in my mind forces me to empathize with any one who has gone through a great loss and a great trauma. Although I’m blessed to have made it through the storm and the aftermath with my sanity and my sound mind, I could never bring myself to judge anyone who hasn’t gotten over something that hurt them deeply.
Everyone has to work through things in their own time and in their own way. If you put a timeline on some one else’s or even your own healing you’re just begging for disaster. I know for a fact that I have to make it through something physically before I can even think of my emotional welfare. It was months after the storm before I started to deal with the emotional and psychological effects of the disaster. Others deal with their emotions while they’re going through the trauma. It all depends on how you deal with disaster. Be patient with yourself and with others. Fixing yourself is not a race, there’s no prize for being the quickest to bounce back.
By no means am I encouraging extensive wallowing. There is nothing healthy about wallowing in your sadness long term because after a while everyone around you is going to be like:
But give yourself time to heal. To grow. To breathe and just be okay with the changes in your life, whether they be big or small. Every period of your life is not gonna be about stability. Some of them are going to be seasons of instability and rapid change. That’s okay. Exist there while you need to and don’t believe the hype that every single human being has it more together than you because they all took the “how to get your ish together and keep it together by the age of [insert ambiguous age here]” class. The hype is a lie, everyone is outchea searching and messing up and not knowing what the hell they are supposed to be doing and it’s gonna be like that for a while. Just take your time to, as Debbie Allen in A Different World would say, “relax, relate, release”.
Deal with your pain and be okay with the scars left by your battles and struggles. Just don’t ever let the scars distract you from the beauty that is your struggle.
Now that I’m off my *in my Iyanla voice* “Beloved, look at yourself and the mirror and tell that person you love them” soapbox, here’s a picture of Dorothy and The Scarecrow easing on down the Yellow Brick Road. Stay believing in yourself,
“But God chose you to be his people. You are royal priests. You are a people who belong to God. All of this is so that you can sing his praises. he brought you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”-1 Peter 2:9