Anyone affected directly or indirectly by Hurricane Harvey is going to experience many shifting emotions, and each day will be a little different. Yesterday was the first day I had a meltdown.

The first several days after our town was flooded, I was filled with an adrenaline rush.  Our mission was to get people to safety, get them fed and in dry clothes. There was no time for tears. Every time I felt tears forming or a lump in my throat, I would quickly turn it off and get back to work.

Once safety needs were met, we moved into cleanup mode, diving into shit, literally. People in the community came together to rip out waterlogged sheetrock and house contents that have been bathing in contaminated flood water for days.  It’s a smell I will never forget.  Again, we had to push emotions aside to get the job done.

But yesterday was different.  It was time to go back to my real job. I stepped away from the energy of dealing with the flood and was forced to put my mind elsewhere. When I got home I checked Facebook, which by the way, has been my lifeline for getting information.  It was there I  saw the news that Kingwood High School (KHS), which was destroyed by flood waters, was moving its operation to Summer Creek High School so students could get back to school.  

People’s comments reflected a shift in where they were in the grief process. The adrenaline is subsiding, as is the disbelief in what we are dealing with. People were trying to “bargain” and throw out ideas of how to keep kids in KHS, as if school administrators had not considered every viable option. There was anger. Anger at how their kids would be displaced, how their education might be compromised, and how life would be hard, very very hard.

And then I watched the video about how the flood destroyed the high school.  It was that frigging video that sent me over the edge.

My son is a senior and goes to Kingwood Park High School, but he was slated to go to KHS and we transferred before freshman year. We know the kids and families at KHS and my heart just broke as I watched in horror at the devastation. I sobbed and sobbed. All of the tears I held back all week came flowing out.

There’s no more denying that what is happening is real, and it ain’t pretty. The reality we are facing is worthy of a big, fat meltdown. I think it is perfectly normal to let yourself fall apart a little right now. Let it out. Feel it to the depth of your core. Denying your grief only delays it. There is no getting around it, no matter how strong you think you are. We are moving through grief for our losses, and each day, possibly each hour will be a different emotion.

Mary Beth George
Mary Beth George is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Gottman Therapist, Master Trainer for the Gottman Institute and co-owner of Couples Counseling & Psychotherapy Associates. She is an empty nester with a passion for rescue dogs, traveling and spending time with people that make her laugh.