I am walking softly onto the page. It is the anniversary of my fire and the PTSD is wicked bad. I just need a friend tonight.
I am not exactly lonely, I am a little afraid, I am wistful, I am needing to just sit with you and hold your hand. Can you sit with me a moment?
Yesterday it was three years since the fire and my life has never been the same. The bottom fell out of my life that terrible night and in the aftermath and I realize that I have never trusted life again since. Until that night my life had forward thrust, there was movement, I was planning a future, building a business, doing regular podcasts, mentoring people, so many things that I loved, and the fire swept it all away, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I had a house that I loved with all my heart. It was the first and only house I had ever bought on my own and I was so proud of it. It was a darling little place. In the eight months after the fire they did demolition and took the whole thing down but the shell. It is, for all intents and purposes, a new house, and I appreciate that the insurance company rebuilt it but the house that I loved is gone and I can’t get it back. It has broken my heart.
I realize that I am in this space, thinking about all of this, because your claim is open for 3 years. For three years anything you realize is missing since the fire you can put a claim in for, you continue to deal with the insurance company for 3 years and then they close the books on the claim. That was yesterday for me. House rebuilt, claim closed, subject moves on. But I haven’t moved on. I haven’t because the time just prior to the fire was a very particular moment in time. I had put my heart and soul into redoing the house just the way I wanted it. The kitchen was like a little doll house kitchen, it was adorable. And I put my money into training and working with good teachers and mentors and guides to build a business. And it opened the first of January 2014. It was a good investment. The business was doing well out of the gate, and because I work from home all of my business equipment, files, paperwork, designs, sketchbooks, and more were all set up here in my studio, and I was so proud of the work I was doing, but one month later, the night of the fire, I lost it all, and for 8 months I lived in a tiny house the other side of town. I lost my 4 parrots in the fire and praise God made it out with my 4 dogs, but it was disorienting and heartbreaking and all the work I was doing came to a dead halt. I tried to pick up the pieces afterward but in the alternate location and without all of my equipment I was not able to, and everything slipped away and everything I had invested in my future was gone, my future, as I had planned it, was gone.
I have said this before. I have said this too many times, but on the anniversary of the fire it comes back again, the waves of PTSD are like rough surf that can knock you down if you get too close to them. And this lovely rebuilt house has never felt like mine, and there was no money to begin again, and the future disappeared.
Now of course I must needs go on, but every attempt is filled with anxiety and fear. I do not have the resources to begin again in any practical sense so I am trying to carve out a life from where I am with what I have. I have been drawing and painting and writing the stories of the 100 Ladies but I have come into a hard time with them. When you try to press a creative venture into service, into a business, it can pull up anchor and sail away. In the past couple of weeks the Ladies have fallen silent. The stories have stopped coming. And while I have kept drawing the ladies are fewer and fewer in my sketchbook. Last time I wrote here I wrote that I should make my art and write my story and it seemed as though I may just be able to do that, but then I had a tragedy in the family, my darling pug Laverne had a stroke and at the vet she went to sleep in my arms with me singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow to her. I sobbed uncontrollably. My heart was truly broken. And I came home and the ladies stood still. Time stood still. Once again the world tilted off it’s axis. And then the 3 year anniversary. And now I have fallen as silent as my ladies.
I don’t know where to begin again. I don’t know what to do. And I’m tired of writing about being so afraid, about the fire, about loss, too many terrible losses in too many directions still echoing like the reverberations in an echo chamber. I want to find my way but I am so heartbroken I just can’t seem to find it. I struggle with bipolar disorder, with depression, and on the best of days I am even, but most days are a struggle. I can’t just go out and get a job, that would be wonderful. Going through a day, one hour at a time, is the truth of my reality and it is a struggle. There are terrible things happening in the world and I want to help but when even getting up in the morning can be filled with terror doing the things that one might like to do to be of service are short of impossible. I pray. I write what I can to support the effort. I cry out against injustice. I pull the blinds and I hide. This is not helpful, it is the truth of my reality. I am sorry. You don’t want to hear this. Trust me, I don’t want to write it.
So why do I write it? I write it in the hopes that one day it will run clear and I will find my way.
I write it because I have been told by countless people that they are lost and afraid too and it helps them not to feel so all alone.
I write because I know that somehow I will make it, I will not be another suicide. 5 years ago we had a suicide in our family. I know what that does to a family. I will not do that to mine. But I am here to tell you that being so afraid all the time just goddamned wears a body out. I am so afraid. Jesus God I am so afraid. And I am just so tired of being afraid.
There was just a siren screaming out in the night and it scared me to death, it took my breath away. You never get over that sound after a night of too many sirens, of men yelling back and forth to one another with hoses going, of EMT’s trying to give you oxygen and a kind policeman pushing you gently into the back of his car because you keep screaming and trying to run to the house. My birds were dying in there. I had to save them, but I couldn’t. Windows exploding out of the house, black smoke, neighbors and fire engines and tv cameras lining the street and screaming and sobbing and people crowding around. 3 years ago my life stopped. I am waiting for it to start again.