One of our mold specialists is a psychologist who has worked with numerous trauma victims. He contends the mold population is the most traumatized of all. The lack of understanding in the medical community, the isolation from family and friends, the financial devastation, the loss of health, loss of possessions, and people not understanding the depth of trauma all contribute to a horrifying anguish that takes years to resolve and can be triggered at any moment.
When our mold remediation company began work on Monday morning, our family’s trauma reared its ugly head. Every bone in my body went weak as I listened to the sound of plastic and tape, trash bags, and dehumidifying machines.
“Mom, you have that look on your face that you did in our Colorado house,” one of my kids said.
I felt disoriented, paralyzed, unable to cope. One of our adult children walked into the kitchen with the same look. “It’s so eerie,” she said.
I’ve read that 9/11 survivors' trauma is triggered when they hear trucks rumbling around the streets, unusual sounds coming from the air vents in the office, or thunder.
It doesn’t matter that my kids’ noses aren’t bleeding profusely. It doesn't matter that we’re not running to the emergency room with another migraine, and no one is in a wheelchair. It doesn't matter that my brain isn't fogged like it was in the months leading up to our abandonment of the home.
My traumatized mind can’t distinguish between the past and the present.
Today is better and it's all a little clearer.
A microbial bomb went off in our home two years ago. We had no choice but to flee.
This time we’re dealing with a hand grenade.
This time Chris and I find ourselves on the same page. No need for me to try to convince him something is wrong. He knows.
This time we know not to disturb the mold until it is properly treated.
This time we know what type of company to call AND which type not to call.
This time I don't need to spend hours researching, trying to figure out if stachybotrys is truly dangerous.
Because it's so different this time, I think the odds are a little better than 50/50 that we'll stay in this house. These are tough odds, really. I can't imagine starting over. Again.
The good news is that, in the end, the odds are 100% in our favor. I'm confident that there's a bigger story to all of this. A better one. An eternal story which promises that all things work together for good.
So we wait and see. We'll deal with the trauma of the past as it floods back. We'll look for the truth about the present as we learn it. And, like Niebuhr said: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.