Sunday, November 5, 2017

Baby steps through trauma

This morning, as I went down to the basement to grab laundry out of the dryer, I discovered standing water around the washing machine. Because it's never just one repair. After alerting Grey and allowing him to do some investigating, I contacted our landlord to alert her to the problem. Which is when the angry phone calls started. The frustration on the other end of the line from two people, making it clear that they were well in over their heads.

Later that afternoon, I ran into our landlord's aunt, who happens to be our neighbor and a conversation began not only about the ongoing maintenance problems but also how the family is trying to help our landlord manage the current situation. And though the future isn't terribly clear for how all of this will play out, what is increasingly clear is the need for moving forward was tackling the issues one at a time, taking baby steps to overcome now two massive maintenance projects.

It's been odd to be in the middle of all of this, hearing the panic from someone where it's clear that all of this is the most traumatic set of situations they've ever faced. To see this newness of pain and trauma following having lived through so much loss myself. To be clear, I'm not judging the pain. After all, Grey and I are the ones who are currently living in the middle of it. But whereas we have a honed strategy and a tiredness after years of dealing with trauma after trauma, its very odd to observe this fresh sense of shock and grief from people who have never faced anything like this.

So in a weird way, we've become the teachers. We're guiding our landlord through dealing with all this uncomfortableness and unpleasant surprises will reminding them that they cannot put their heads in the sand. In short, we're acting as guides on how to do baby steps through trauma. The identifying priorities and helping them address what is immediately in front of them.

All the while being mindful that the Pain Olympics serves no one. Because at the end of the day it doesn't get us to the end goal we desire.


  1. First - I hope these repairs happen swiftly for you. Second - I am always caught off guard when something like this happens and is somehow the worst thing that has ever happened to another person. I mean, that’s great for them but surprising. Third - thank you for the reminder that the pain Olympics serve no one. My sil hasnt gotten pregnant after a few months of trying (unlike the first, even easier time) and has been complaining to me a lot about it. As someone who tried a lot longer, did IVF 2x and also adopted... I’m having a hard time. Especially when I hear that if it doesn’t happen soon (’s been a few months) they will “just adopt.” But this is the most adversity she’s ever faced and I need to try and be there.

    Hope things turn around soon.

  2. It’s bloody stressful when crap in the house breaks, even though in the big picture of things it’s just stuff and not the biggest deal. I’m impressed at your compassion for your landlady’s stress when you are dealing with so much else and could easily roll your eyes at it. I hope the washing machine is fixed soon, one way or another. What a profound comment about maintenance. You’re right it’s easy to neglect, but then one faces even more dragons in the future. I think recognizing that maintenance has to happen is an important first step.

  3. Ugh...such a thing can so constipate a household. So I'm with Beth that I hope the repairs come quickly.

    Your landlord is fortunate that you are able to be understanding while dealing with such an inconvenience. I think you two rock.

  4. Hmmm... you are right about the Pain Olympics, and I know it's stressful when stuff breaks down... but seriously, if the worst thing that ever happens to her is leaky washing machine & oil tank... As Lori says (above), she is lucky that you & Grey are being so understanding about this. It may be her wallet funding the repairs, but you & your family are the ones who have to live with it!

  5. Oh man, one thing after another! I hope you are back in laundry business sooner than later. It's a strange thing to be glad you can be a mentor on the subject of pain, loss, and unexpected frustrations, but I'm glad you can help your landlord through this sort of thing.


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