After any traumatic experience, I usually go through some interesting emotional and physical shifts. At the time of the event, there is shock. The brain turns off everything except survival thinking. Then there's disbelief, and when these wear away, things get complicated.
This event is no exception. I am lucky, in that I have remembered emergency training - so as I left the rooms of my house, I closed windows so the fire would be harder to spread. I left through the garage, because the fire was at the front of the house. I did not waste time looking for paperwork or trying to grab photo albums. It was, get out and get out NOW.
Watching the fire, I was consumed with fear. All I could think was, "Pleasegod,pleasegod, don'tspreadtomyhousemykittyisinthere." It was my mantra. It wasn't until the fire was under control that I felt weak in the knees, that my bladder reminded me it was awake, and my stomach told me it wanted breakfast, like, five minutes ago.
When the adrenaline wore off and we were allowed back in our home, all I could do was sit limply in a chair and watch TV (the ultimate mindless activity). Occasionally I would feel hungry, thirsty, or in need of the potty. Basic needs only, folks.
After the event is over, and the shock wears off, I try to deny the level of the trauma. "I'm OK," I tell myself and everyone else. I'm trying to find normal again. I miss normal. I go back to work right away (dumb), and try to take care of business. Then I quickly sink into depression. My body and mind know, even if I don't, that I've been through an extremely stressful time. I suddenly need sleep, lots of it, and I'm not hungry anymore. I don't feel like reading, watching TV, listening to music, taking a walk, talking to ANYONE, blogging, whatever. I can't remember basic pieces of information (like my phone number or address), and forget problem-solving. So work is out. That was yesterday.
Then, slowly, the depresion lifts. That's today. I started the morning in complete numbness, no feelings, nothing. This is not a fun place. I forced myself to put away some laundry, eat a bowl of cereal, make juice, read my email. I stayed home from work. I listened to some music and tried to feel something. Anything. I sang and played piano. Finally, a lightness in my chest and heart. I played cards. Laughed at my simple solitaire mistakes. I checked the blogosphere. I read a nasty comment by some ignoramus on another website and felt a surge of anger. All right! I can feel again!
Once the feelings begin again, I know I'm beginning to heal. As long as I stay open to the range of feelings that I'll have, I should be fine. So over the next few days, I am looking forward to feeling: sadness, tiredness, anger, rage, weepiness, relief, guilt, frustration, and hopefully, peace.
I'm working on a scrapbook now, touching paper, pictures, matching colors, cutting shapes, remembering good times from our cruise last winter. I'm watching the cat watch the workers put our neighborhood back together. These acts of creation and building are doing good things for me.
And I'm feeling better now.