Thursday, July 19, 2012

Storm, Storm Go Away

I hate storms. I have all my life. I can remember as a kid, and up until a few years ago, hiding under the covers when it stormed at night. I wouldn't look out a window in fear of seeing a flash of lightening. A roll of thunder was enough to make the hair stand up on the back of my neck. I've not always lived in Ohio. When we would come back to visit family, I can distinctly remember being here in the summer time and being petrified of the storms. I was really worried about tornadoes. My grandma would always tell me you know when they are coming because the sound like a train. She was trying to calm my nerves, except that backfired. My grandparents' house is less than a half mile from train tracks. Trains roll through town all hours of the day and night. I would wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of a train - covers drawn over my eyes and sweat beading on my brow.

This fear continued throughout my childhood, and into my adult life. We lived many different places. Most places were not known for tornadoes, but my fear of storms was just as strong. The anxiety that I experienced over storms would leave my heart pumping in my chest and my body almost paralyzed. I cannot remember one specific instance that produced this fear, but I cannot remember a time that I didn't experience it.

Nine years ago, 374 and I moved back to Ohio. Having never really experincing a storm in his presence, he never really believed the severity of my fear. The first storm that rolled through our area left him speechless. He'd never known anyone to react the way I did to a storm. Call it an irrational fear, but it was just something I could not control. As a grown adult, I'd bury my head in his chest, cover my face with a blanket, and more times than not plug my ears. He'd get a good chuckle at my behavior, but learned to take my fear seriously.

Since having children, we've experienced a few storms that were quite severe. We've been very fortunate to not have any experiences with a tornado, however. When Bubby and Sassy were babies if I was anxious and worked up, they really had no clue what was going on. As they've got older, I've had to learn to keep myself in check. I did not want to pass this fear on to my children. I did not want them to see their mother, someone who is supposed to be a rock for them, panic over the weather. I hate living this way. It's embarrassing, quite frankly, especially when I'm around people that are not family or that I do not know well. I've come to the point where I can see lightening through the curtains or blinds, or hear thunder without having to dive to cover my face. However high winds, as well as thunder and lightening still get my heart beating rapidly and my anxiety to kick in.

June 29th when the Derecho (didn't I say I didn't want to hear that word ever again??) rolled through, I was so scared I couldn't react. My anxiety had kicked in to a point where I was almost numb to the siutation.  I do have some residual anxiety. Yesterday a storm made it's way through our area while I was at work. I had to keep myself busy and away from the windows because I was having flashbacks of that Friday afternoon.

However, there was someone else in my presence that had anxiety that surpassed mine today. Sassy. Since the storm that Friday afternoon, she has been anxiety ridden over a simple rain storm. 374 was not with us when the Derecho powered it's way across our area. Sassy was so upset that her Daddy was not with us. She had no idea where he was, or if he was okay. All she knew was he was not with us to keep watch over us. It was too much for her.

I noticed the fear a little bit last week when we were outside playing with friends and it began to rain. She flew up on the porch where we were sitting with terror in her eyes and ears wetting her hot cheeks. We had to assure her it was not a big storm, rather just some rain to help the flowers and grass grow. It took a few minutes of coaxing, and then she was out dancing in the rain.

Yesterday when the storm thundered in, that same terror welled up in her eyes and she began pacing. With each clap of thunder, her bottom lip pouted out even more. After about five minutes, she was in a full out fit. Hysterical crying and begging for her Daddy. Luckily my co-worker was on her way out the door to pick up the girl who was relieving us. She offered to run Sassy home to 374, as she was driving passed our house anyhow.

According to 374, Sassy came barreling in the house in hysterics over the storm. He was out on the porch looking towards the sky as she screamed at him with big alligator tears to get in the house. Bubby, being the wonderful big brother he is, got her a blanket and offered up his beloved stuffed elephants to help her calm down. Finally they wre able to talk her out of her panic.

My heart just breaks for her. I know the panic. I know the fear. I'm hoping it'll pass as time moves on from the Derecho. I'm praying with every fiber in me that she'll get over it, and next summer won't be as traumatic for her. Then there are parts of me that know that this is probably how it started with me as a child. We try to talk her through these situations. We explain that most times it's just rain, or some rain and thunder. 374 and I have tried to explain that a storm like on June 29th is very rare. That it won't always be that way. However, a four year old brain doesn't always understand things like that.

Do you or your children fear the weather? What have you done to help yourself or them over come their fear?


  1. Omgoodness, how awful for you, and especially her, being so little and not understanding as well.

    We live in Georgia, and have to deal with severe weather/tornadoes almost year 'round. Some years we've had tornadoes as late as Thanksgiving, and some years as early as January.

    I don't get nervous or upset at a regular thunderstorm, but my youngest son used to be severely terrified of them.
    He still gets upset when it gets bad, but then I do, too.

    I think the thing that helps us most is having our "safe place" to go when it gets bad. We have a little closet/room underneath the staircase that's our "tornado shelter". We pile blankets and pillows in it. My son heard one of the newscasters say something about wearing a bicycle helmet if you have one, so now he does.
    Whatever helps him feel safe.

    When he started school, our schools were really old, from the 1930's, with huge windows. When it would lightning outside he would get scared, so I had to ask the Teacher to put him in the closet when it stormed. The classrooms had large coat-closet rooms connected right off the classroom, with no windows. So that helped him feel safe from the lightning.

    He still watches the weather religiously, and keeps an eye out for anything coming. We usually know ahead of time when storms are headed toward us from Alabama and we can prepare.
    I also listen to the local police/fire radio scanner so I can hear any reports of damage from nearby locations in the county. Because a lot of the time the news will be really overblowing a storm - oh it has a (tornado) index of blah blah - there's almost certainly a tornado on the ground, right there, blah blah blah!!! Then it'll end up being nothing.

    I don't know what to tell you about the Daddy issue, mine never really got upset about that. But I guess if you could figure out ways to make her, and you, feel safe during a storm, and you told her her Daddy was also safe like this at the fire station. (Yes I advocate lying to little kids if it makes them feel better, lol.)

  2. I LOVE storms. We FINALLY got rain the other night and i was out in the rain...with some lightning in the distance, taking pictures. I would be a storm chaser if I was not married with kids. Love the weather. Hang in there.