In the recent weeks, I have found myself using the phrase “total loss” a lot.
I was at a “total loss” when we lost most of our belongings when the home we moved in to was infested with bed bugs.
If I always trusted my instincts I would be living in a forest somewhere in a house built of dung and twigs (maybe not dung…I think it would be pretty hard to find a bunch of dung these days without some extra effort). However, this is one of those cases where I probably should have listened to my inner self. We moved into a beautiful home, but something just didn’t feel right.
The neighbours were weird, there were ominous noises , and the basement was one of the scariest places I have ever been – seriously. I guess I also had a hard time leaving my old life behind (a life that I hated – go figure!). I knew I had to grow into this home and make it our own, but there was always something that wasn’t right. Whether it be that the plug in the bathroom was on the opposite wall of the mirror (which drove my OCD into overdrive) or the fact that the landlord told me (after I moved in) that the people upstairs were being treated for bed bugs it just never felt like a home and I found myself constantly on edge.
After spending a small fortune on precautions to prevent us from getting bed bugs in our home, EVILBOY woke up one night with bites all over him – and I lost it. The thought of the possibility of getting an infestation was hard enough, but to actually encounter the problem was enough to push me over the edge. We moved out that same day – leaving everything behind.
The criticism I got for leaving this home behind was shocking. I had a hard time believing anyone would react differently in such a situation – but with my mental state, I knew this was for the best of our little family. This was not my problem to begin with, we were very unfairly thrown in to this. I tried – so hard – to live knowing that this could happen and when it did I hightailed it out of there simply because I didn’t want to put us through the trauma of going through treatments for weeks, months or maybe even years and always wondering if marks on our bodies are from an injury or the return of bed bugs. It’s just something I knew I couldn’t handle emotionally.
So while some people think I made the wrong decision, I am pretty confident – in our situation – that I made the only decision we could live with.
I was at a “total loss” as to where to turn when we needed help.
The first place I turned to was our insurance company who were quick to inform me that “insects were not covered under my tenant policy”. I didn’t believe them so I called again only to be given the same answer. I called local social service agencies, churches and the health department (many of which never even awarded me with a return phone call). The only people who would help us was a society which normally helps people who are returning to society after a prison term. They were very nice, but unfortunately they too did not follow through with assistance as promised.
The first night we spent with EVILBOY’s grandma (his father’s mother). I realized how much trouble we were in when I had to make a late night stop at Wal-mart to buy a whole outfit for my son to wear to day camp the next day.
The second night my mom came to help us try to salvage what we could and we spent the night on the floor at my old apartment (luckily it was still available). We slept on a roll of foam, a duvet cover and two or three top sheets that I had in a box that I had yet to move to the new house (thankfully!).
Our goal the next day was to salvage some more things and try to find beds. When things weren’t looking so well, I put out a call of help on Twitter to see if anyone knew somewhere we could get help to replace our beds.
What happened next was completely shocking.
I had a “total loss” of words when a bunch of people came together and donated to help us get through this.
There were people. A lot of people. Some I knew very well – others new friends who all came together to help. We received furniture and money and advice. I remember reading that first tweet about people helping us and bursting into tears in our elevator. EVILBOY looked at me and told me to please not cry again but then somehow noticed that they were happy tears. At that moment I felt as though everything would be okay.
In fact, I feel better than okay. People helped us. People cared about us. I don’t know why it took a disaster like this to happen before I realized how much people really do care. Because of the help we received, I want to smile in public more, I want to be able to make eye contact with strangers more often, and I want to be able to help someone one day like people have helped us. It’s amazing how acts of kindness can really lift your spirits.
The physical part of this whole ordeal is really superficial. The emotional part is something I’m not sure I will ever get over. I will always pick at specks of fluff on my bed wondering if it is a bug. I am not sure I will ever get over feeling like bugs are crawling all over my body at night.
While we were able to save some of our important belongings (which are currently in bags on my balcony – or in the process of being removed from bags and sanitized), we did lose a lot of things. I’m not sure if I will ever get the image of my stuff strewn about the sidewalk carelessly (even though they were thrown out properly with notification of bed bugs people still scavenged through our belongings) out of my mind. I'm not entirely sure we will ever be able to replace some of the memorabilia that was just too risky to keep, but I will always have the love of others received on my mind and that is much more valuable than anything we had to throw away.