When the Wind Blows

We’re under a tornado watch tonight, and I’m full of anxiety. Tornadoes aren’t welcome any part of the day, but I especially dread the threat at night. They are more difficult to spot, and I always worry whether I will wake in time to do something. To take shelter.

When I was a child, I was terribly afraid of storms. I was so afraid that my parents had me see the school counselor about it in elementary school. It didn’t help. My thought process was that storms are rightfully scary; what’s so irrational about that?

We have theories on the genesis of my fear, but none of them seemed exactly right and really, what did it matter? My fear had been solidified.

Thankfully NC has few tornadoes and usually the ones we have are fairly weak. The EF 3 tornado that came through Sanford, Raleigh and Wake Forest last April was an anomaly thankfully.

As a child, though, the rarity of tornadoes didn’t matter to me. Any storm meant the possibility of tornadoes to me, generated panic and stimulated my flight instinct. I couldn’t be in my house during a storm if at all possible. I ran down the path to my cousin’s house if possible. I was known to hide under tables. When I was older, I hung out with friends at their houses or the one establishment in my town that was open past 9pm (a truck stop – it was innocent, I promise!). I don’t know what it means that I didn’t feel safe in my childhood home.

The fear continued into adulthood. In our townhouse in Cary, I drove J crazy by insisting we go to the Waffle House or Barnes & Noble during storms. The house before this one had a basement because I thought that would help my panic. It helped but didn’t ameliorate the fear completely.

I realized a few years ago that the grip my fear had on me had loosened. While I still feel amped up when there is a tornado watch & am rightfully vigilant when an actual warning occurs, I don’t have the urge to flee any longer. I could chalk it up to maturity, but I don’t accept that reason. I think part of it is that I feel at home in this house. Truly at home for the first time ever. Another reason may be that after our delightful journey through infertility, I’ve gained a little perspective and understand that there are worse situations in which to be out of control. And there is of course my sweet Daniel: how can I give in to my flight instinct when he must be and is my top priority?

I also thank technology. Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, the blogosphere, the Internet, digital cable, and my iPhone, I’m never alone. The house in which I grew up had a tin roof. Storm lovers delighted in how it amplified the sound of the rain and wind, but this storm-a-phobe detested it. And again, it was worse in the middle of the night. A storm would wake me up, and I wouldn’t know how bad it was. I didn’t have cable growing up and services like DirectTV were just getting started. We certainly didn’t have the Internet. In addition to fear, I felt so overwhelmingly alone. Was I the only one up and worrying? Dreading each clap of thunder and vivid flash of lightening?

Now? How can I feel alone? I have a weather radio. Greg Fishel calls me if it’s bad. I can roll over and check Twitter (I follow several weather people), check the radar, and read the forecast discussion on NOAA.gov before I even need to think about turning on the tv. Thank you, technology!

Hopefully I’ll need none of them tonight. Hopefully there will be no sturm and drang as Mother Nature attempts to transition to winter. But if it gets bad? Don’t hesitate to send me a tweet. Chances are, I’ll be up and it would mean a lot to me.

Disclaimer: I don’t mean to leave out J or make him seem unsupportive. He isn’t. He talked me down many times and indulged me many, many times. This fear has been my irrational demon & as the singer Poe said, you can’t talk to a psycho like a normal human being.


  1. Really interesting post. I don’t know what it is like to live in a tornado region, but out here we have earthquakes and I think about them a lot. During the Loma Prieta one, I got knocked down my childhood home’s stairs and was really, really scared. I think about what to do all the time and when the twins were babies, I was terrified that one would hit when I was by myself, and how would I get them both out safely?

  2. I was thinking about you last night! When the wind started howling, we were marveling that M could sleep through it, and I mentioned your extreme dislike of storms to Kirk… Sounds like you made it through ok, though! My fear of flying got alot better after I had M – must be that I’m no longer the most important person in my world 🙂

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