Surprise! It’s time for another big renovation – thank you sneaky kitchen faucet leak. First there is the big “event” – the shocking squish on the kitchen floor. Disaster team on the way – floors ripped up, hurricane fans and dehumidifiers for days. The house is louder than the tarmac at the Houston airport. Damage control.
Hmm – no kitchen sink or dishwasher – paper plates – insurance company – estimator. Estimator. Here it starts to get really interesting. Of course the floors are gone, but then there is all of the potential hidden damage you didn’t see coming. To prevent toxic mold from stealthily invading down the road, the cabinets should be dismantled, sheetrock ripped out, built-ins rebuilt, and on and on. How is it possible that a little water could cause so much damage?
But you do the work, you get the help, and you recover. You now know what is behind every wall and every cabinet door. And it’s all new.
I don’t know about you, but my heart can sure relate to this process. I’ve had my own stealthy leaks. Sometimes a leak is caused by a hole in the heart. Sometimes it’s not a leak – it’s more like a tornado that strikes without warning. But, either way, suddenly, there is this “event” – a phone call, a loved-one (or your own foolish self) found – barely breathing – face down in the mud, hospital doors, funeral home – a life-altering, giant squish that grabs us right in the gut.
And if we are not careful – if we don’t seek the right help – we might do a quick fix of the obvious and miss the hidden black growth of fear or resentment or shame that threatens to do far more damage than the original catastrophe.
Hopefully, we listen to the experts and we do the work. We open the cabinets of our heart, we tear down the walls, we rebuild our built-in assumptions about life. And, holy moly, it is messy business – the dust, the inconvenience! Every day we are vacuuming up the tiny little particles – the evidence of the very pain we are trying to extricate.
We are completely exposed for a time, and that is terrifying, but it can be empowering. In Committed: A Love Story, Elizabeth Gilbert writes:
“To be fully seen by somebody, then, and to be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on the miraculous.”
We get a chance to pause and ask ourselves what we want our life to look like, pick out the new coverings that will sit over our foundation. Sometimes, it’s far more serious. The very foundation is smashed to smithereens. And at times like that, the only way we make it through is with the backing and insurance of our family and friends and professionals.
With hope and patience, the new self, the new mind, the new relationship is built. As time passes in the new place, the haunting memories mercifully begin to fade. If we are fortunate, they linger just enough to keep us humble and thankful for the safe and mold-free walls that surround us.
“Your angels are dancing. Because you have been offered freedom from the prison of secrets. You have been offered the gift of crisis.” ~Glennon Doyle Melton in Carry on Warrior