The story of day 3 is coming soon but since we are now 12 days into this new chapter of our lives, I need to write about where I am right now.
It’s been rough to say the least. This particular post will not be about seeing the gift or the phoenix rising from the ashes or the love that surrounds this or how lucky I am to be alive…. I know all of those things. I have seen gifts, experienced the love, have had extreme moments of beauty. We are blessed by our community and have experienced and outpouring support.
Right now, what I need to write about is the fear and despair that grips me. Later, I will talk about the light. I will write it as raw as I feel.
I am in an altered state. Life no longer looks the same. It has similar elements, yet the foundation has changed. We drive past the turn to our road home on the way to where we are staying, and each time I long to make the turn and imagine for a moment that our home is still standing. Really, I don’t miss much of my crap. I had some beautiful things – treasures from years of collecting; original art; valuable antiques; gifts from my long-deceased grandparents; wedding presents; scrapbooks from childhood; keepsakes and memories.
What I miss most is my house. The other day, David said we could rebuild the same house – and immediately I rejected this idea. It would be like the book “Pet Cemetery” where they bury their beloved cat and he comes back different – later turning demented and evil. It just seems wrong. We could never recapture the character of that dear house. To us, it was more than a house. It had personality – and enveloped us in the love and support that we needed as we create big lives out in the world. Settling into my bed each night, I would exclaim, “I love bed.” The house was comfort personified. A respite from the world, a breath of relief, our sanctuary.
We don’t know what is next. We don’t know if we will build again on our ravaged land. We know we would build something completely different. And, we know that some of that will be exciting. But remember, this blog post is not about that.
I know there are stages of grief and that we are just beginning to make our merry way through them: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. And, my new author client, Sandra Champlain, who certainly came into my life at the right time, expands even more about this in her upcoming Imbue Press book www.survivegrief.com). And, of course, there is my own training as a therapist and as a human being who has been through trauma before. Yet, as my mom always says, there is nothing that prepares you for loss. I am aware, I know that “this too shall pass”, yet at the moment, I just want to vomit.
Sleep is getting a little better but nights are still the worst. On Wednesday, I remembered a recurring nightmare that I had over the years since living in our beloved home. In my dream we are selling the house. For some reason, I am ok with it until we are past the point where we could turn back or change our mind. Then I completely lose it, come unhinged. Like a wild animal trying to claw its way out of a cage, I desperately try everything to stop the transaction or change the plan… to no avail. The next morning, I wake up heavy hearted and hung-over from this nightmare.
On Wednesday night, as I was getting into bed, I remember my nightmare and descend into the panic that was previously reserved for my dreams. I am well-versed in changing the thought, meditating or praying, surrounding myself in white light, seeing the gift, yadda yadda yadda – and right now, this deep panic engulfs. It threatens to swallow me whole. I lost my home. I am living my nightmare.
Today, we are setting out to do the first clean up on the property. We are grateful for the support. It is what we need to do – and the panic is along for the ride. Right now, as it stands, our home is a pile of rubble. But it is still something that exists. After we remove the debris, nothing will exist there but a memory. I feel protective of the site. I will ask those who help us today to treat it like doing surgery on a baby. I will say, “Shhhhh, please be very very gentle, very kind, very loving. Whisper while you work, hold love in your heart. Gentle…” They will be doing surgery on my heart and what remains of this dream. We will be searching for artifacts to remind us of what once was. We will build an alter with our remaining skeletal possessions.
My friend Shaya suggested I surround my own heart with love. Please, for today, surround mine and David’s heart with love. We are going to need it.
  • Debra
    Posted at 15:09h, 07 April Reply

    You are so right not to rebuild the same house. The ghosts of the former would haunt you. Build new along with new memories. Losing everything in Katrina, I know your pain and sadly, know that the fear and despair will be with you for some time. You didn’t just lose things. You lost your home and more than that the security that comes with having a home.

    This altered state you speak of is transitional. You will continue “to see things differently”. The fire is still burning you but when you finally pass through this, you will be transformed to a higher level of living.

  • Shaya Mercer
    Posted at 15:33h, 07 April Reply

    You are so brave to feel all of the raw and to hold gently that part of yourself that feels the fear and the sadness and the vulnerability without turning away, pushing away, running away from that part of yourself that needs your full attention and presence now more than ever. I truly believe you have to let yourself feel it all the way to heal it all the way. I love you! I hope today is as sacred and heart-connected for you and David as it can possibly be.

  • Sage Lee
    Posted at 15:55h, 07 April Reply

    Kristen, I’m loving you and David so deeply in love right now. If I thought it would truly help, I would get on a plane and help with the cleanup today. As I read your words and I try to understand what you are going through, I’m moved by your courage and willingness to be with whatever life chucks at you. Know that you have an open invitation to stay here with us here in Santa Cruz, anytime.

  • Andrea Costantine
    Posted at 16:38h, 07 April Reply

    I am so moved by your loss. I think of you often. Love is in my heart – sharing it with you in all ways that I can. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your raw truth… I can’t imagine anyone who could possibly expect you to stay completely in the “light and yadda yadda” – you have every right to experience exactly whatever it is you need to feel and experience. My heart goes out to you… today, tomorrow, always.

  • The Rowdy Girl
    Posted at 19:44h, 07 April Reply

    I love that you are so open and share all that you are feeling . . . thank you, Kristen.

  • Lauren Byrne
    Posted at 21:26h, 07 April Reply

    So love you and David….we are hugging you from here….

  • Karen Wyatt
    Posted at 00:21h, 08 April Reply

    There are no words Krisitn … no wisdom … no advice … no platitudes. Just loving support from another human who understands the territory of loss and suffering. Hold on … just hold on.

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