Friday, January 08, 2010

Is it just now sinking in?

I can't believe that I am still going through stuff over the fire. Bear with me while I ramble a bit.

I feel like I have had all the hair on my body waxed, like something has been forcefully taken from me.

The holidays were actually pretty decent. I went a little crazy at Joann Fabrics and saved $300 about two weeks before Christmas and decorated my upstairs. Our tree came from a neighbour who used to be an interior decorator who have a slender tree to give us. It was 6' high and worked in our limited space. She cast off hundreds of red and silver balls and I bought plastic swags of red and white flowers for the walls, and birds for the tree.

The day after Christmas, a couple of miscreants were batting an ornament with a wrapping paper tube, which was my sigh-n from the gods that it was time to take it down. The kids cried and I had to keep moving stuff off the walls and the tree. I was called a grinch by my husband, but he wasn't having to deal with what I was dealing with, so I had to forge ahead.

A couple of days after Christmas, something occured to me and I don't know why, but sensations have come back to me. Why it took almost four months is because of when I felt safe in letting it come down. Writing has been very, very hard. Thinking ahead, even a few weeks out, has been impossibly hard. I was asked to do something for school in February before the Christmas break and I came home and cried. Two months away was so hard to conceptualize! And I had a new phone on which I didn't know how to insert a date and it overwhelmed me! I feel like I'd been numb, but now my brain is running around feeling every sensation that it can. . . cold, hot, happy, sad, windy, etc. On Guy's birthday, I was carrying his cake with candles and the heat, not the fire on them, got to my FACE. It was almost unbearable, but I have never noticed heat coming from birthday candles! This is normal and I am not flipping out-- I am just letting them come and telling myself it is all OK. If I make good cookies, they are doubly good, if someone upsets me I am wounded for an hour but jet up and wipe my tears. Dealing with this for a few weeks is OK, but much longer will not be OK. (School resuming for the kids and getting me busy is a good thing.) I let a friend from church who knows about fires know what was going on and he let me just talk. What I was needing was validation over what was coming back. I remember seeing a room that was on fire, but not seeing smoke or feeling heat, but the room was smokey and it was hotter than. . . he just nodded. Of course this all came back as he and his wife were going on vaccation. Still, I can email him and tell him what is on my mind and he will read it when he returns.

I remember how it sounded, the fire, eating up letters that my dad sent to Cloud on her birthdays and the kids' toys and their pillows. I remember the fire alarm being on. Could not remember these things the day of the fire or, even a month ago.

My step dad joked with me, "So it was Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and Tea?" He said it gave him insight to what those guys dealt with when it was happening. He feels that God was protecting me, and I agree. It wasn't my time.

I feel like I am putting the trauma and grief classes to work. It is bothersome-- I was going to help other people, not have these things happen to me! Now I am thinking that it is good that I experienced this-- not that I want to again, but it is good to understand what it is like to not be able to gather all the information while looking at it and react only to what one is able to take in. Will I be understanding to someone else who is having some other trauma?

After the fire, the first thing I went in for was a friends' letters which were so chemically saturated that they were toxic, but at least I got them out-- it was like saving my friend even though I had to throw them away, but no one else saw his confidences. I saved my little giraffe that I love but now smells of chemicals and I will probably toss it out even though I love it. Heirlooms, dolls that my artist grandmother made, are gone. I grieved my stuff and the loss of the house and the stability that it offered me. I cried for the first time over stuff when I realized that a particular family picture was gone for forever.

Now I am dealing with the event itself. I am seeing what happened and I feel good that I did the best I could with the information that I was able to take in. I am more freaked out by what could have happened than what did. I am lucky and blessed and it just wasn't my time to go and my children have their mother.

During the Christmas break, I was upset and thought that I was losing my mind because I could swear that I was seeing fire flickering on the wall, then around the 4th, realized that it was coming from a computer game! (I canceled the shrink-- maybe in a month or two from now, but it's not at the point that I need someone!) There was realistic fire being depicted on the monitor!

The kids are fine, mostly due to me trudging ahead and talking about it all in a frank manner. They know that I hurt and that it's all right.

The restoration business really upset me. We stood in the ruins of my house and talked about the new plans with their builder. I live next door to an ugly house with a bus used as a storage shed. (That is the one that belongs to the neighbour that ran around with her kids at the fire.) We told them that we wanted a second story, but to not affect the foundation because it was too much money and to keep it to less than $250,000. They sent us plans that seemed big, but we didn't have the dimensions of the old house. I looked at their portfolio and told my husband to ditch them because they made half million dollar homes as their starter houses! My husband liked them, and it turned out that we were being shown a $400,000 house! You don't put a palace next to a slum! You will never get your money's worth! What were they thinking? We got a bill. I want to tell them that after they give someone a huge house like that that the people feel like sh-- because anything else feels like they are merely ending up with something, but my husband wants to pay it and TELL THEM OVER THE PHONE! Like they will care? They'll justify themselves and make him feel small, give him the $5,000 for the plans that they didn't even creat for us and leave them alone.

Such is life. Let it go.

When he decides on a builder, I just want to be allowed to work with them on the kitchen and my art room. I have to have a big kitchen and place for my art stuff. I speak through my hands be it with paints, inks or fibers.

When I've had friends suffer tragedies, I have given them copies of a poem by Emily Dickinson. I have felt this way before during court battles with my ex husband and niscarriages and a car wreck where by the grace of God, everyone was ok. This is the poem and I have had it in my head for years, but now I know it. After a huge tragedy of monumental proportions, we all react a certain way. I have not been stone faced for the last four months-- I have laughed and played with the kids, but dealing with the fire was something different. I know what it is to have a "quartz contentment"-- smiling brightly, unable to waver out of a workable, livable mental state. I have tried talking to friends and one dominates the whole discussion with stories from high school (she is going back to where she graduated from and is excited-- it is OK, but annoying when telling her something deep!) and another's eyes glaze over. Few comprehend except for those who have been through it. There are variations between people in how we handle things, but it is probably about the same.



After great pain a formal feeling comes--


The nerves sit ceremonious like tombs;

The stiff Heart questions--was it He that bore?

And yesterday--or centuries before?

The feet, mechanical, go round

A wooden way

Of ground, or air, or ought,

Regardless grown,

A quartz contentment, like a stone.



This is the hour of lead


Remembered if outlived,


As freezing persons recollect the snow--


First chill, then stupor, then the letting go.

7 comments:

Ropi said...

Aren't you Orthodox? Didn't they celebrate Christmas yesterday?

A house fire is a serious thing and it is not easy to restabilise your life after that but good luck.

Tea N. Crumpet said...

The Russians did-- we sometimes do it, other times not. Our church is actually Turk and for some reason they don't do the Old Calendar.

Palm Springs Savant said...

I'm still amazed at how well you are dealing with the stress of it all...

Tea N. Crumpet said...

Rick-- what I had of value were my children and a couple of things that had value outside of sentimentality. I think I would handle (God forbid) something happening to YOUR house worse than mine.

People have been good to us. What has helped me the most have been memories shared with me-- the firend who is moving and giving me things from her kitchen that all had stories attached, friends from church giving me recipes with stories attached, most recently my friend Chris (very similar to you and Jason!) and his partner sharing their favorite vegetarian dishes with me while I get back into cooking vegan on Wed and Fri meals, a blogger pal sent me an unused tea pot that he'd had for years that I use several times a week, that kind of stuff. These things are scaffolding for me on days that are not good, as I form my own memories. I was so adrift

Without this kind of support, I think I'd have stayed crumpled like a lawn chair in high winds!

Ropi said...

Happy Valentines Day.

GDad said...

I've been thinking about you. I hope you're moving forward through it all.

Willow Witch said...

Hello from across the country...
I have read your posts since your fire. Trying to find semblance in my own mess. Reading your words were like a mirror in some cases which make me feel less insane... Thanks... Our house fire was January 18th and I am in the middle of a very nasty divorce (just the cherry on top) Hope things have started to come together for you..