I'm afraid of thunderstorms.
I'm afraid of thunderstorms because Bud is afraid of thunderstorms.
No, that's not right.
He's afraid of dogs. He is terrified by thunderstorms.
His anxiety has been building all summer, and it has gotten a little worse with each storm we've experienced. For the past month, his anxiety has started surfacing at the sight of dark clouds. In the face of actual lightning and thunder, his anxiety turns to outright terror.
We had a thunderstorm yesterday, and Bud worried and obsessed as the sky darkened. He pleaded with me to tell him that night was coming, and that there would be no storm. The rain followed and we could hear thunder in the distance. Bud started to cry.
As the storm moved closer, Bud's fear grew. By the time the lighting and thunder and pouring rain were outside our house, Bud was in a raging panic - sweating, crying, shrieking, shaking. His heart was pumping so hard and racing so fast I was afraid he might pass out or go into cardiac arrest. After each crash of thunder he pleaded with me to tell him that the storm was over.
"MAKE THE STORM GO, MOM! THE STORM IS GONE NOW! IS THE STORM IS GONE NOW? PLEASE MAMA, PLEASE THE STORM IS GONE!"
I wanted desperately to tell him that the storm was gone. But I couldn't. It wasn't. It would be worse if I lied to him.
"I think it's almost over, Bud. I think it will be gone soon."
"NOT SOON! NOT ALMOST OVER! I DON'T WANT THE STORM! I DON'T LIKE IT! IT'S ALL GONE NOW, MAMA! MAKE IT GO!"
I think Bud thought I was making a choice - that I could make the storm stop, but I wouldn't. Or maybe he realized that I was as helpless as he was and that terrified him even more. All I know is that with each round of thunder, with each failure to receive reassurance that the storm had stopped, Bud's fear escalated. He trembled, he gasped, he screamed, he sobbed. It was terrifying to watch. It was heartbreaking to experience.
We did the only thing we could think to do. Nana, Papa, Daddy and I formed a tight huddle around Bud. I dropped to my knees and put my face near his, and while he shrieked and wailed I talked softly, trying to comfort him, hoping that he would focus on my voice as we waited for the storm to end. My husband got a pillow and we wrapped it around Bud's ears as we sheltered him. Nothing seemed to help.
The storm finally passed, and Bud slowly calmed down. The rest of us continued trembling for several hours. Since then, we've been trying to come up with a plan for next time. We haven't thought of one. My only plan is to pray for good weather.
But I'm really afraid of thunderstorms.