Water was pouring in under the door so quickly, on such rhythm, it put me in a trance. I just stood there, like a Michelangelo statue, looking at it. Pondering it. As if it wasn’t a disaster nipping at my heels. The water pooled around my feet. Cold and dirty, brown.
I could hear Rob thumping down the stairs, his feet slapping close behind me. “Oh my god!” he shouted grabbing my arm. This provoked me to do something really weird. To this day I can’t explain why I did it. If I had to guess, I think it’s because I just had to see it for myself. To see with my own eyes if it was real.
I opened the door.
Water whooshed in like rapids, slapping against my shins.
“What are you doing?” Rob screamed. He reached behind me and pushed the door shut against the water, locking the deadbolt for good measure.
“I, I don’t know why I did that,” I said, staring blankly, but starting to wake up from the trance. “You have to get a bucket and bail out that water or it’ll happen to us all over again,” I told him. “Go, run!” I pushed against his back while he took off upstairs. Water pooled around my ankles and like a snap of the fingers, I woke up for good.
I’m not gonna lose it, I said to myself. I promised you after that miracle that I wouldn’t have a meltdown like that again. That’d I’d trust you, and I meant it, I cried.
Then I proceeded to completely lose my crap.
I didn’t really do anything in particular – I just starting running from room to room like my phone was ringing and I couldn’t remember where I’d left it.
Eventually, probably because I was uncomfortably winded, I grabbed hold of myself.
No, no! Keep it together. You promised yourself and God you weren’t gonna do this again, and you’re not. You can beat this, just think!
I was becoming my own hype man. I was half a mind to start playing Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” on my iPhone to really get the juices flowing, but since I was looping God into my crisis I felt like I probably needed the edited for radio version, which I didn’t have, so I just let the whole music thing go.
All I could do was prevent as much damage as I could, starting with ushering the water into a nearby storage room where there was a drain in the floor. There, I’d also find my supplies – like a push mop, thick blankets, towels and fans – right where I’d left them a couple months ago.
This wasn’t the first time this had happened.
It was right after we just purchased our new home. Maybe a couple weeks? We put every last penny into securing our home, and just like that, Nebraska experienced unprecedented rain and snow melt, while the ground was still frozen. The drain outside our lower level was frozen solid, allowing torrential rain to rush in, covering our brand new floors and creating $15,000 worth of damage. I still remember the man’s face who worked for our insurance company. It was grimaced and pained. “We can’t cover this,” he said in the middle of my favorite room, adjusting his feet and splashing the water. “You aren’t in a flood zone.”
I didn’t take that very well.
Our home was an adorable 60s house that had been remodeled by a well-known architect who loved to flip old homes into an updated work of art. Through a series of miracles, we were able to get the home, but it required putting down all the cash we had and jumping through a series of endless hoops to get it. It was our first home we ever owned, I loved it with my whole heart.
But now it was under water. Credit cards maxed, accounts empty. We couldn’t do anything about it.
I’d like to say I handled the crisis with integrity, but instead I handled it so badly, it’s become legend around here. Imagine if a Bridezilla, Mariah Carey and Alec Baldwin were all the same person and having the worst day of their life. That was me. And I really leaned into my new persona.
My dad is a luxury home builder and I was calling him around the clock asking for advice, but mostly venting, ranting and raving, panicked and weepy. I must have been incredibly exhausting. Late one night I saw mold beginning to grow in a utility closet, so naturally I dialed him with the same emotions one has when dangling off a cliff. His response was offensively unhelpful and frankly, I didn’t like his tone. We got into a shouting match so intense, I screamed something like, “BLACK MOLD WILL KILL US ALL, IS THAT WHAT YOU REALLY WANT?” and then threw my phone across the room. Rob ushered the girls into their rooms while I embarked on a “child star turns troubled young woman and paparazzi won’t stop chasing her and she might have a teensy drug problem” meltdown.
Rob forced me to bed where I wailed, loudly, into my pillow. I felt so helpless, so sad, so broke, so scared. Financial stress triggers us on a biological level. It hits our fear of survival mechanism first – then it hits our pride, then our shame. It takes the air out of the room and makes it hard to breathe.
I soaked my pillow with tears and when I was finally all dried up and slightly dehydrated, I spoke out to God in a dark empty room.
I can’t go on feeling this way. I told him. I don’t want to suffer like this. I don’t want to be sad, and stressed and scared. I started to get all snotty weepy and wiped my nose on Rob’s pillow. Take the pain and fear and panic away, and fix it. Please. I believe you’re going to give me another miracle so I don’t have to worry or be afraid.
I don’t want to be afraid, I cried. Please. Help.
I fell fast asleep, my face buried into a wet pillow. I don’t think I stirred, or moved a single muscle. Until the next morning when I heard a tapping at our front door.
This is the first part of a two part series. The second half will be released tomorrow morning (Sunday) to my exclusive True Story(ish) list. If you’re not on my already, you can sign up here real easy.