Today is Tuesday, September 2nd. We were evacuated August 19th. My house burned down August 20th.
I have these dates written on a white board in my mother’s spare room, which is where I’m living now. I keep them, because there is an avalanche of information I’m expected to take in and process, and stuff like that gets pushed out. People would wonder what’s wrong with me if I can’t remember the date of the most traumatic thing that’s happened to me in years.
I don’t have a template for this.
Everyone keeps telling me I’m doing fantastically. I’m cheerful, I’m working, I’m in meetings, I’m solidly fixed on the future. But I honestly don’t know what else I could be doing. I comfort myself by solving problems, and this is a Costco-sized pile of problems.
At the same time, I’m feeling fragile. Any second, anything can rub me the wrong way and I could cry, storm out of the room, bark at someone. I realize that’s a perfectly normal response to a tragedy of this magnitude, but I still find it scary.
There are two kinds of loss of control – losing control of a situation, and losing control of yourself. This fire means that I lost control of the situation. There is nothing I can do to get my house back sooner. There’s a lot of cleanup, a lot of bureaucracy, a lot of planning and figuring and dealing with people who either want something from us, or have something we want. I can do nothing to change any of it. I’m not scared of that kind of loss. I have been feeling almost light – like I have no weight, I’m a ghost who can’t physically touch anything. All I can do is provide information to people who want it, and that’s easy.
But if I lose control of myself, what happens then? It’s not enough that I wouldn’t be able to control myself, but I wouldn’t be able to participate in fixing things. I would end up shifting that burden onto other people who might not be able to deal with it either. I can’t do that. It’s just not in my nature. I can’t let people who depend on me down.