Five things I learned from Hurricane Sandy

14 Nov

#1: Some things are completely out of your control, and nothing is outside the realm of possible. You would think my fiancé leaving me to marry a mutual friend would have already taught me this but either I’m a slow learner or Hurricane Sandy reinforced this point. I mean, a hurricane in New York? New York doesn’t get hurricanes. Hurricanes happen in the south and on island peninsulas. Everyone knows that. But then the wind picked up, the lights flickered, and everything changed. As a semi-control freak, not having a say in my every move frightened me. I felt more than simply inconvenienced without lights and electricity, running water, a charged cell phone, and internet access. I felt unsettled and unsafe, exhausted, and outside my comfort zone. But I learned it was okay to feel restless and unsettled in such unexpected circumstances; as long as I didn’t let the situation overtake or completely consume me. It was okay to ask for help and let someone take care of me; at least until I got my footing back. And it was okay that I didn’t take the warnings more seriously…but I won’t make that mistake again.

#2: It’s unnecessary to feel guilty simply because you don’t have it “the worst.” I heard everyone say it. Repeatedly. I said it myself. Repeatedly. You may have too: “I’m not complaining because I know there are so many people who are in such a worse situation right now.” Yes, there are. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a martyr in your own situation and with your own feelings. I personally felt restless and anxious and displaced. But it didn’t make me a bad person. I was of course concerned for my friends, colleagues, and the city I call home but I couldn’t focus entirely outside my own situation until I regained some small sense of personal security. I went through the same sort of emotional tug-of-war when my engagement ended. I didn’t think wallowing in self-pity on the couch or closing my office door to cry about it was acceptable when there were people in the world who are poor, hungry, homeless, abused, alone…so when I did it made me feel even worse than I already did. (Not that I could stop the wallowing if I wanted to!) So sometimes it’s necessary to put yourself in focus. Even when you don’t have it “the worst.”

#3: There are dozens of ways to help. Donate or volunteer through the Occupy Sandy movement. Volunteer for a hurricane relief project with New York Cares. Make donations through NYC Service. Check out the Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund. Support disaster relief efforts through Food Bank for New York City. Donate to the AmeriCares Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Fund. Find a location to donate blood with the New York Blood Center. Donate $10 to the NJ Salvation Army by texting “STORM” to 80888. Donate $10 to the American Red Cross by texting “REDCROSS” to 90999. Donate $10 to the Mayor’s Fund by texting “NYCFUND” to 50555. Support puppies and their friends through the Human Society’s search and rescue efforts. Seriously, you know how to Google. You can find a way. I didn’t even have to go far- my office has been running a food and supply drive, as well as a coat drive, since our office reopened.

#4: There’s no place like home. I often look around my tiny one-bedroom apartment which has been converted into two, and especially my small space with its fake wall and flimsy door, and ask myself “Could you ever have imagined that this is how you would be living at the age of 31?” It’s small and cluttered, my closet isn’t in my bedroom, my roommate is kind of a slob, and I regularly bang my shoulder into that fake wall when I walk in or out of my bedroom. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s all mine; built from a midtown lifestyle of my choosing, and independent of anyone else’s input or preference. More and more it has started to truly feel like my own little home-sweet-city. Being displaced from it, even for just a few days, made me realize just how much I love it. Even if I could use more closet space!

#5: I’m dating someone. And it’s not complicated. It’s not consumed by what I once assumed would be unabashed trust issues. It’s not dictated by commitment issues. I don’t worry that he’s going to run off with someone I considered a friend. Or end it without so much as the courtesy of telling me why. I’ve come to remember and appreciate what it feels like to wake up with someone, to have someone ask about my day, to catch someone’s eye across the room. I’ve done so, probably for the first time in my life, on my own terms though. I haven’t lost the person it took me a life-altering and heartbreaking experience to find but at the same time I haven’t let that experience take control of this new one. I have absolutely no idea where this is going but if it were to end tomorrow I would have no regrets about taking this chance, or the person I took it with.

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2 Responses to “Five things I learned from Hurricane Sandy”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Let’s play a game « Unwedded Bliss - January 9, 2013

    […] recently discovered admitted that I’m dating someone, I’m also discovering admitting (and fully appreciating) just how opposite our schedules are. […]

  2. 12 memories from 2012 « Unwedded Bliss - January 18, 2013

    […] Hurricane Sandy (and the lessons learned) […]

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