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OMG!! Where do I start??!

I saw a rat in my house!!!

It's July. I am kind of in denial that we are in the 7th month of the year! Anyhoo, as a black woman I have to mention this to you for a few reasons. It's the moment in which I start to recover from the grief overload that happened in June. AND because it is also Minority (BIPOC) Mental Health Awareness Month.

In my first yoga teacher training I learned “Pain cures the pain.” WTF?!?

I get it. That does NOT make sense… until it does. I had too many deaths and funerals and celebrations of life in the eight days before my vacay trip to Martha's Vineyard.

And normally June 30th, the day after the death anniversary date for my daughter, is an emotional hangover day. However, there was the gift and trauma of the rat. Hear me out. There's nothing in particular that is a gift about seeing a rat.

I've been doing work on my house. I live in New York City which is basically a rat colony.

At 56 I have never had a rat inside my home, but they are all up and down the block. Neighbors kept telling me that I had a rat problem. But I had an exterminator come and he said I did not. Which is what I expected since there were no rats in my home. But everybody kept seeing them, including myself, seeing them go into this one particular area in my front courtyard. Could they be in the walls? My handyman installed a fine grating so no rats can get in. No rats can get in but I did have this nagging concern about whatever rat may already be in the walls.

Well then my handyman caught and killed one! He showed me the picture evidence. It was a baby rat. He even explained the difference to me between a mouse and a rat and how you can tell by the tail. Who knew?!

He had done the work and then had to take it apart because he saw that there was chewing away on the wood from the inside. He went digging in there. Apparently it was a spectacle.

He killed a couple of rats and sent me pictures. Oh joy. Then he put the grate back up. Feeling like, all right, we're safe. But in the back of my mind again, I get this nagging feeling they can't get out. Where will they go?

They're going to die in my walls and I've been smelling something. I've been keeping the house heavily incense lit.

And then it happened. At 2:12am on June 30th I had fallen asleep on my couch. A weird noise woke me up.

My eyes open and I see a rat coming down the steps. I scream. It runs. Now I am wide awake, wired, freaked out, and I'm leaving town the next day.

Questions in my head? Oh my God. I'm living with a rat! Empty the garbage. Can I still go out of town? How do I get rid of the rat? He was coming from upstairs. I'm not going up to my bedroom now. I'm going to stay on the couch. What happens when I have to go to the bathroom? I've got to pick everything up off of the floor. #dontjudgeme What if a rat gets inside one of my bags?

After I finish going through the panic overload in my head, I get up. I empty the garbage from all floors and take it outside. Only one garbage can has food in it but still if I'm taking out garbage empty them all right? Makes sense.

I also decided to take out the recyclables. I did not take the paper recyclables outside because I knew there was a shoe box that I needed to get from upstairs and now it's a little after 3:00 in the morning and I'm tired and still fearful of going upstairs.

I assume my “safe” position on my couch. I leave the bag of recyclables downstairs but inside my front door. I'm on the couch. Lights on full blast because they're nocturnal, right? They don't like the light, right?

I hear rustling. EEK. I get up. I look at the bag by my front door and I see the rat scurry away and go to my basement. F&CK!!! I was going to do laundry. Scratch that!

Back on the couch, I plotted my next steps. Get the shoe box, put it in the bag, take it outside. There's no garbage in the house. I sit down on the couch silently freaking out. How am I going to get to yoga tomorrow? Do I cancel this trip? I've already paid for it. I need a vacation. When will I pack?

I decided to go to bed. I'll keep the lights on. I was closing doors but then I noticed the gaps under my doors and the rat can still get in under the door. I decide my bed is higher than the couch so I can lie down on my bed fully clothed. I mean I might have to run, right?

I wake up at 5:00am. I tell myself I should go to 7:00am yoga but I don't want to leave the rat in the house by itself. What if it has a party? What if it invites company?

I text the handyman. I fell back asleep. I woke up at 6:40am. Clearly too late to make the 7:00am class. Okay what am I going to do?

I am going on this trip. I can't call the exterminator because they won't be able to come today. But we can buy peppermint oil. Google says peppermint oil works for all rodents because they don't like the smell. I remember this when I had mice from the construction next door. #nyc #homeownerissues

Ultimately, I pack. I speak to the handyman. We come up with a plan. He's convinced that I have ONE rat although I had three sightings in the 4 hours before I got back to sleep and he thinks that it's only one rat? He will buy traps. He will get rid of it or them and I go on my trip and I come home to my normal rat free existence.

ALL of this is important because at no point in time in my hyper-viligance, anxiety, and fear about living with a rat was I in the emotional overload of the 12th anniversary of my daughter's death by suicide.

Pain cures the pain!!!

Now that makes sense! I am happily sitting on a sunny deck sipping tea and typing out this story to you.

I seriously hope the end of June was not as dramatic for you as it was for me. And even if it was, I hope you have found ways to create joy. And I hope you clearly see that transformation is possible. 12 years ago. I could not imagine living without the extreme anxiety and emotional overload of this particular anniversary, but here I am 12 years later with the wondrous gift from the rat. No emotional overload.

Let's be clear. I do not want any more rat sightings… but I am thankful.

What are you thankful for? Can you now think of an example where pain cured the pain? Where something outlandish and ridiculous took you so far out of your normal thoughts that the trauma or pain you were in disappeared?

If you don't have one, awesome! If you do have one, I would love to hear about it.



Author, Coach & Chief Joy Connector

P.S. If you will be in New York city on Monday, July 24th, I will have this awesome speaking event live in person. I'll have my books and here's the link for you to register. I hope to see you then!

P.P.S. If you want to hear about grief recovery and BIPOC (Minority) Mental Health Awareness Month, join me for my Tuesday tea at 3:00 p.m. on Instagram live. It will be on location from Martha's Vineyard too!

You can follow me and chat more on the following social media channels

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