The immediate aftermath
It’s like when your house is so messy you don’t even know where to begin cleaning, so you just don’t. Except this time, it’s not a mess. It’s like a tornado went through your home, scattering memories and debris everywhere. And instead of calling in a disaster response team, instead of picking up some of the pieces and rebuilding, instead of doing anything at all constructive, you just don’t.
You pitch a tent amidst the wreckage, zip yourself up inside, and sleep through the chaos. You force a smile while you’re inside of your little tent and tell yourself, “This is fine. I am fine.” But it’s not. You’re not. As soon as you step outside, you collapse in despair with the realization that the insanely daunting task of rebuilding your home still exists. And you still have to deal with it. You didn’t ask for this, but you still have to deal with it. And that’s life.
Deciding whether to stay or go
When a tornado hits your house, you certainly don’t have to rebuild it. You can chalk it up as a loss and move someplace else. Buy a new home. Make new memories. But that isn’t easy, either. All of the things you owned and held dear have still been destroyed. The trauma of the situation won’t magically disappear when you decide to move. Will you ever even want to own a home again? You put so much time, money, and hard work into it. So much attention to detail, so much maintenance and care, and it’s literally been reduced to rubble. Just like that. Bam, gone.
If homes are so easy to destroy, why even buy another? Why not just rent the rest of your life? It’ll be sad if something happens to your apartment, but you don’t have any real personal investment in it. It seems so much safer. Less satisfying, sure – it’ll never have the crown molding you delicately put up, the flower beds full of tulips, the shutters you hand-painted after agonizing over paint samples. But that makes it easier to leave.
But sometimes, the place you had is worth saving. You’ve seen it in its glory. You love the privacy and warmth of the lot you have. You know just how the sun sets between the big trees to the west. You know how satisfying it is to have a cup of coffee in the morning while watching the cardinals and bluebirds flutter from branch to branch. This is your home, dammit. You loved this place. You still love it. Sometimes, even though it’s the much harder path, you have to rebuild it. You know you could just move, but in your heart, you can’t. You have to try.
Deep introspection, battling depression, and therapy
So you call in help. You can’t do this alone. You tear down the half-collapsed walls. Demolish what’s left of the home you spent so long creating. You have to. Your old home is dead. It’s gone. You can’t rebuild on top of something that’s unsteady.
You have to start over. This is the most painful part. Complete destruction. Every piece of rubble you pick up has a memory. You find things you didn’t even remember having. Old photographs, letters, memories. You demolish walls covered in artwork you picked out from your travels. You rip up the floorboards you tried to take such good care of. You cry and feel such overwhelming confusion. You wonder if you’re making a mistake. Maybe you should just move. Re-examining every inch, piece by piece, as you tear it away is mentally and physically anguishing.
But eventually, after what seems like forever, it’s all gone. You have a clean slate to start rebuilding on.
You start to feel a little excitement. The ideas start rolling in. You remember the best parts of your old home that you’d like to reincorporate, and are even thinking of some improvements. Ways you can make the new place even better than the old one. You carefully start from the bottom up. A new foundation. New framework. New insulation, new walls, new flooring.
Some things you leave the same. You choose the same living room wall color that made you feel so at-ease and relaxed. The same office setup that made you feel inspired. Slowly, things begin falling into place until finally, after a lot of time and work, it’s livable. You can move in. You can stay the night. You feel comfortable there again. Safe, even. It feels like home. You wake up one morning, have a cup of coffee while looking out at the birds, and you can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Everything will be okay.
Of course, there’s always a small part of your mind that will be scared. Another tornado could hit tomorrow. Again, that’s life. You should keep tabs on the radar, but you ultimately can’t predict the weather, so there’s no use in dwelling on it. Fear will come and go, but overall, you feel good. You feel empowered. You feel strong, which is something you haven’t felt in a long time.
You know that with or without this house, you will survive. You have mental power, strength, and courage. You’ve learned so much about homes and building. You’ve learned so much about what you want and need. You can smile now, genuinely, because in your heart you know you’ll be able to endure whatever life throws at you.