I live in an area that was once all agriculture.  The houses have been moving in and around since we moved here. 

One of my first memories was an unseasonably warm fall day.  I went outside to study for an exam and was attacked by bugs.  I remember that I lost a lot of time researching as I looked up what was attacking me. 

If you are wondering, I was being attacked by Box Elder Bugs and some Leaf-footed bugs. 

Fast forward a couple of years, and I’m living in a trailer on my driveway.   Our house is undergoing major renovations.  For many reasons, we wanted to stay close but out of the way.  A trailer on the property accomplished this.  

As fall came, the bugs returned.  However, whatever transpired that year had created the perfect conditions for the Box Elder bugs and arrived in volumes.  

I would emerge from the trailer to see them covering the trailer and covering the house.  They were everywhere.   I don’t’ know what happened, I snapped.  I lost it.  

I would come out of the trailer, remove my shoe and start to attack the trailer with the sole intent to kill as many of those bugs as I could. 

The bugs were just the tipping point.  I was under a lot of stress at that time: 

  • living in the trailer
  • renovation stress
  • the loss of some of our belongs due to a flood
  • working a job, I hated

For months and years afterward, if I saw a Box Elder Bug, I would stop whatever I was doing and kill it! I’d stop walking or talking.  My focus would go to the bug, and nothing else mattered.  

The following spring, it seems that they emerged again, this time procreating, and I would just sit in a chair and cry.  I couldn’t take it.  All these bugs would multiply, and the fall would start all over again.  I gave in and called a pest specialist. 

Over the phone, the pest specialists told me that they were harmless.  I assured them that they were not harmless to my mental state.  So they came.  I’m sure I caused some sort of ecological apocalypse in the backyard. 

The pest company did admit that we had one of the worst cases of these bugs that they had seen.  

It has been five falls since I lived in that trailer, and although the Box Elder Bugs still give me a pause, I thought I was doing better.  Until today! 

Today, I went outside to eat lunch.  The sun is shining.  I love getting out at lunch and soaking up some of that lovely sun.  I will do this for as many days as I can until it becomes too cold.  Or so I thought…

The BOX ELDER BUGS are back!!!!!! 

My lunch was heating up, and I crawled on my lounger to enjoy a few minutes of sun.  My husband came to say hello (we work in the same office, but between meetings, focus and headphones, we don’t really get to talk to one another).  That is when I saw them. 

They were crawling all over the house and clumping together in the heat of the sun.  

My need to take my shoe off and go on a killing spree was strong.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, I didn’t have shoes on. 

I feel the stress, the anxiety overtaking my body.  

I got my lunch and ate inside with my back to the sliding doors. They are robbing me of my sunshine! 

Five years ago, I didn’t have the tools I have today.  Five years ago, I lost my mind and didn’t know what to do about it.  

Today, I know I’m losing it again.  I know my reaction is excessive.   The difference this time around is I have tools to help myself. 

I’m calling someone from my community to help me.  These bugs trigger a traumatic reaction in me.  I can choose to live with the trauma, or I can let it go.  I’m going to choose to let it go.  

What trauma are you holding on to that you would be better off letting go of?  

(Even after letting the trauma go, I make no promises that I won’t call the pest company in the spring)  

Trauma creates change you don’t choose. Healing creates change you do choose.

Michele Rosenthal