Anyone else feeling irritated? In the last 24 hours I have felt irritated a bunch. I am irritated that my exhausted body was woken up by a panting dog afraid of thunder, and that we might get even one more drop of rain. I was cranky because traffic jams all over Kingwood caused me to be late for work. I was annoyed because my cell phone kept dropping calls. I was frustrated that do-gooders have wiped the shelves clean of packaged chips and Gatorade to feed clean-up crews, but these are two things I need to make school lunches. Yes, I know there are supplies at other stores, but I want to go to the store right by my house. I breathed a heavy sigh when I realized I can’t just run over to Bed Bath and Beyond to exchange my Soda Stream CO2 canister . . . I now have to go to The Woodlands. And then I was flooded by thoughts of all of the inconveniences I am facing because so many places I am used to going are not open for business. And I am irritated that there is no end in sight to these inconveniences. I get it, these are inconveniences and others are facing real tragedy. Not only do flood victims have these irritations, they also have full on anger. They are angry about long waits when calling FEMA, only to get an unhelpful person on the other end. They are angry at the absence of the Red Cross in Kingwood. They are feeling rage about how the SJRA handled the rapid release of water from the dam. They are pissed at themselves for not having flood insurance. They are angry in Fosters Mill for having to deal with a truly shitty situation. They feel grateful that friends and relatives took them in, but everyone is getting on their last nerve. They are miffed that volunteers threw away salvageable items. And they are disgusted with themselves for feeling needy and like a victim, two qualities they really hate. They might even have a twinge of being mad at God for doing this to them, because after all, they are good people and didn’t deserve this. Well folks, meet Stage 3 of Grief. Tensions are rising and we are losing our patience. This situation stinks. Life has given us lemons and there is no lemonade in sight, only a sour taste in our mouth. But we need to be talking about our anger, not dismissing it or pushing it aside. If you are like me, you are feeling low level anger. It’s more irritation and annoyance, but those are valid feelings given the situation. If you are trying to deny those feelings by saying things like “I have nothing to be angry about because others lost their homes and I didn’t”, you are being dismissive of your own experience. Hell yes, these things are irritating and disruptive to the life we knew before we met Harvey. You can hold two feelings at the same time. You can be grateful and irritated at the same time. Even flood victims are being dismissive of their feelings by saying things like “It’s just stuff, at least we are alive”. Yes, that’s true, but anger is the right feeling. Anger means something unjust has happened and they have a right to be angry. We all do. Anger is a normal part of the grief process. Feel it. Allow it to be there. If you don’t, down the road you will be like a soda can that was shaken, and then explodes.

Mary Beth George