one year anniversary... aka me whining some more about the tornado - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 11 Old 03-02-2008, 12:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Today is the one year anniversary of the tornado that took our home while we were in it. This is not a person, I know, but apparently it gives the same type of grief as losing a loved one. Not because of the material items we lost (those don't matter), but because of the loss of my "self". I was a different person before this. I was positive and so happy and not very fearful or processes of the earth, as was my dd and ds. Now we all shake like leaves with the slightest mention of severe weather or the sound of thunder. I am so grateful our lives were spared. I don't feel like a "victim".

I do feel like I lost the part of myself that I loved so much. I don't feel depressed really, although my therapist says I am. I just feel like I'm grieving ALL THE TIME. I watch weather obsessively and expect tornado sirens with any storm system. I won't go anymore into that because those of you who've read my threads are probably over hearing about my fear.

I need my "self". So much... I need to find my new self and I haven't been able to. I lost all my knitting and crochet stuff and haven't made much effort to replace it because I don't feel like "living" (not saying I want to be dead, just that I don't actively pursue my interests). Same with most of my art supplies. I was a creative, positive, loving, not sad at all, encouraging, earthly, motherly person and now I'm not living. I eat, sleep, work, parent, and worry. I don't want to worry anymore.

Things I'm doing to help: attending support group meetings, therapy, actively seeking out others who have experienced this I can talk to, reading tornado statistics and educating myself about weather systems to better prepare for them, getting bodytalk treatment.

Positive things that came out of the tornado:
I now live in a neighborhood that my kids can play in without me worrying about living on a busy street.

I am seeking a way to help others. Possibly mentally once I work my crap out. I'd like to visit places that have had a damaging tornado and help comfort them and their kids.

I got new furniture (although I gravitate toward the used donation furniture and avoid the "nice" room like the plague.

I have a tighter knit with my family and friends, and strangers who have gone through this.

So there are positive things. I'm having trouble avoiding those negative things and focusing on the positive.

I want to live again.

Thanks for "listening".
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#2 of 11 Old 03-02-2008, 01:32 AM
 
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Sweetheart, you do have your self. You survived, and are still here to tell the tale. What you lost was just 'stuff'. Let me give you a Buddhist perspective on this. When we lose something permanently, we are thrust into the gift of no-escape. This is a situation which, no matter where we turn, forces us to confront our deepest fears. It forces us to simply put one foot in front of the other with nothing between us and the pain. This is how we learn that everything, everything will eventually be lost. When we can detach from the idea that we are our stuff, suddenly we are free to just...be. You have actually been given a great gift. I know it does not feel that way, but truly, what makes us suffer more, the loss which happened once, or the story we tell ourselves over and over? Each of us lets go in the time we are supposed to. There is no right or wrong in grieving. The meaning of our loss though, ultimately comes from the story we tell about it as well. Without that story, we just are in the circumstances we are in, and it's exactly right in this very moment. Right now DH and I are watching as the business we built for the past 8 years has been decimated, we are watching as two mortgage companies are refusing to help us and will likely take our house within the next several months. DH and I both have pretty serious chronic pain issues which limits how much either of us can work. And we are sitting with it. Just sitting. There is nothing we can do about it but what we can do. When the answers come, they will come. I know I can't force anything to happen that is not meant to, KWIM?
Mama, I know it's hard. But we're here. We can do this.
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#3 of 11 Old 03-02-2008, 10:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm rereading your post several times because it does make sense, I just need to smoosh it in. The actual material loss isn't an issue at all. I came to terms a long time ago with fear of death and came out of that one okay. I'm not scared to go because my beliefs tell me that it's all a continuim anyway. I am horrified by the idea of leaving my young children behind without a mother. I'm horrified by the actual experience of a tornado sucking the roof from above our heads and throwing debris about us. I need to find a way to not replay that in my head. My therapist compared this replaying to that of people who have been to war and replay the sounds of war daily. I don't think it can be that serious, but sometimes it feels like it,

I do feel like I've been given a gift of some form I'm just trying to find out what this gift is. I know I have to eventually come out of this a stronger person, but when? It's been a year and I've done nothing but sidestepped in recovery.

I'm sorry to hear you're having such a struggle, too. That must be a really hard position to be in. It's amazing that you are able to not let that stress get to you. I hope to be able to get to that point, also. I hope everything works out okay for you, and thanks for your kind words.
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#4 of 11 Old 03-02-2008, 01:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by funkygranolamama View Post
My therapist compared this replaying to that of people who have been to war and replay the sounds of war daily. I don't think it can be that serious, but sometimes it feels like it
Definitely. The human brain is a recorder, that's it's function, KWIM? If in the moment we begin to relive the past trauma we can consciously ask ourselves, Is it real right this very moment? We can honestly aswer "no" and this is the beginning of sort of deprogramming the brain.

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I do feel like I've been given a gift of some form I'm just trying to find out what this gift is. I know I have to eventually come out of this a stronger person, but when? It's been a year and I've done nothing but sidestepped in recovery.
I would say that actually you are in exactly and precisely the right place...for you. How do we know? Because that's where you are. Again, there's no right or wrong; we process the events the way we process them.

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I'm sorry to hear you're having such a struggle, too. That must be a really hard position to be in. It's amazing that you are able to not let that stress get to you. I hope to be able to get to that point, also. I hope everything works out okay for you, and thanks for your kind words.
Well, heh heh, I wouldn't say I never let it get to me, but what I do know is that it is the thoughts about what is occurring that are unkind and stresful. I love what Byron Katie says about reality-that it is always kind. I know that sounds strange, but if I go deep, I know it to be true. I have absolute faith that everything is exactly the way it is supposed to be, because it is that way.
I too hope you will find peace, mama. We may live in a culture that equates happiness with everything outside ourselves, KWIM? But all that stuff is an illusion, or at the very least, temporary. At the end of the day, we can choose to identify with our stuff or know we are spiritual beings having a human experience. For me, stuff has always ultimately left me unsatisfied and empty. Which is of course, as it should be
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#5 of 11 Old 03-07-2008, 03:14 PM
 
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I am so sorry you are dealing with that ... I can definitely imagine how that would impact your life tremendously. We went through a hurricane once and it was so scary - I cannot even being to imagine what it would be like to have your home destroyed by a tornado while you are in it.
I hope that you find peace again.


Adding-

I just went back through your old posts and found the original post where you describe what happened, and tears are running down my face for you. Like I said, we went through a hurricane (was "only" a category 2) also while I was pregnant, we sat in the bathroom and held our child and waited to see what would happen - I remember how scary that was and so I can try to picture what you went through - of course what we had was nothing like that, just saying I can picture the situation. I am so sorry you and your kids went through that, I have no doubt it has made you stronger even though you may not know how yet. You kept your babies safe and that is the most important thing. (((((((((((((((hugs)))))))))))))
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#6 of 11 Old 03-07-2008, 04:35 PM
 
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I don't think you're depressed. I think you might have PTSD and I'd mention that to the therapist. I see a lot of positives here though, especially you wanting to visit other tornado-devastated places. I think it would be very theraputic for you to do that and to help others who've been through the same thing. As for your knitting and art supplies, I would go to the store and replace them ASAP! The way I see it, if you don't restore those parts of your life, you're just "allowing" the tornado to keep sweeping it all away. And I don't think you're whining at all. I cannot imagine going through anything like that, and continuing to talk about it helps you recover. Best wishes
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#7 of 11 Old 03-11-2008, 11:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by MommytoTwo View Post
I am so sorry you are dealing with that ... I can definitely imagine how that would impact your life tremendously. We went through a hurricane once and it was so scary - I cannot even being to imagine what it would be like to have your home destroyed by a tornado while you are in it.
I hope that you find peace again.


Adding-

I just went back through your old posts and found the original post where you describe what happened, and tears are running down my face for you. Like I said, we went through a hurricane (was "only" a category 2) also while I was pregnant, we sat in the bathroom and held our child and waited to see what would happen - I remember how scary that was and so I can try to picture what you went through - of course what we had was nothing like that, just saying I can picture the situation. I am so sorry you and your kids went through that, I have no doubt it has made you stronger even though you may not know how yet. You kept your babies safe and that is the most important thing. (((((((((((((((hugs)))))))))))))

I imagine it was rough for you. Just sitting in a bathroom waiting to see what happens IS nerve wrecking. The scary thing about hurricanes to me is that tornados form in the outer rings, so I know what you mean by sitting and waiting.

It is such a memory I'd like to let go. My therapist is trying to help me do that. There's no need for me to think about that exact minute or two of trauma every single day. I saw a cool dalai lama saying yesterday that made something click in me. something like "I find hope in the darkest of days and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe". I feel like this statement alone has started a new era of healing for me.
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#8 of 11 Old 03-12-2008, 12:01 AM
 
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Just wanted to add that its very possible that youre suffering from PTSD.

We lost everything to Hurricane Katrina and it hit me a couple months after the disaster, after we got settled into a new place. For those few months, I was just surviving. Once we moved in to the new place, I had to start dealing with everything and had nightmares all the time. I couldnt drive for months, didnt want to be around people.

Ive had lots of therapy and last December, started my own form of exposure therapy in the form of learning to dive. I have to face my fear of waves 'flooding' in order to get the satisfaction and gratification of the underwater beauty. Just passing my Open Water certification brought me a long way in recovery and this weekend, Im taking my advanced dive course.

My advice is to continue with therapy as long as you feel you need it and explore exposure therapy.

I realize that August 29th is always going to mean something to me. Every year, it gets a little easier but I dont think I'll ever forget the loss, the damage, the things I'll never get back and the pure hell we went through just to survive for 3 months after our world was turned on its end.

With every day that passes, I have to force myself to keeping moving in the opposite direction of the tragedy. I HATED hearing ourselves referred to as 'victims' or refugees and it was that anger that I eventually tapped into to force myself to face the exposure therapy.

I wish you all the best. I know how hard it is.
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#9 of 11 Old 03-12-2008, 11:48 PM
 
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mama,
I have not gone through anything like what you have experienced, but I have survived much trauma, have healed of PTSD, and have an interesting method of dealing with the flashback-type of "tapes" that play in your head. I have been plagued by the same kinds of images and tapes of the traumatic experiences.

One thing you can do is everytime the tape starts to play, you can imagine yourself taking the tape or DVD out of the machine and erasing it/smashing it/turning it into a flower....whatever alternative helps you the most, suits whatever emotion you have about it. Sometimes I take the tape, load it into this canon thing, and shoot it into the sky where it explodes in this beautiful sunburst thing.

OR

You can play an alternative tape that you make up, again one that is most suited to your emotional needs/personality. When the tape starts to play, turn yourself into Super Woman and blow the tornado back into the sky, or imagine a loving goddess come and hold everyone in her arms to keep you safe, or boink everyone to the safest most happiest place you've ever known, or pile everyone in the car and head for a picnic.... you get the picture.

You may have to do this a lot, every time the scary tape starts to play, but it has been really helpful to me. I have not only found relief but a sense of empowerment from this method.

I won't give you cliches about "healing takes time." Well I guess I just did. So here's another one. You will be reborn into a full, content human being again, not the same as you were before, but you may find that you really like the new parts of yourself. You sound like you have a lot of inner resources and you're facing this with honesty, integrity and courage.

Jocelyn.
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#10 of 11 Old 03-13-2008, 10:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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mama,
I have not gone through anything like what you have experienced, but I have survived much trauma, have healed of PTSD, and have an interesting method of dealing with the flashback-type of "tapes" that play in your head. I have been plagued by the same kinds of images and tapes of the traumatic experiences.

One thing you can do is everytime the tape starts to play, you can imagine yourself taking the tape or DVD out of the machine and erasing it/smashing it/turning it into a flower....whatever alternative helps you the most, suits whatever emotion you have about it. Sometimes I take the tape, load it into this canon thing, and shoot it into the sky where it explodes in this beautiful sunburst thing.

OR

You can play an alternative tape that you make up, again one that is most suited to your emotional needs/personality. When the tape starts to play, turn yourself into Super Woman and blow the tornado back into the sky, or imagine a loving goddess come and hold everyone in her arms to keep you safe, or boink everyone to the safest most happiest place you've ever known, or pile everyone in the car and head for a picnic.... you get the picture.

You may have to do this a lot, every time the scary tape starts to play, but it has been really helpful to me. I have not only found relief but a sense of empowerment from this method.

I won't give you cliches about "healing takes time." Well I guess I just did. So here's another one. You will be reborn into a full, content human being again, not the same as you were before, but you may find that you really like the new parts of yourself. You sound like you have a lot of inner resources and you're facing this with honesty, integrity and courage.

Jocelyn.
Wow! That's a great idea! Thanks so much for sharing that with me. I will definately try it to see if it helps. It'll take alot of willpower to not allow that moment to just take over me, but maybe with time it will grow easier. THanks, again!
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#11 of 11 Old 03-13-2008, 10:54 AM
 
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that's great!

Yes, it won't make the flashbacks go away, and it will take a lot of time, but at least you have tools for dealing with them. You don't have to just sit there and take the nightmare images!

Jocelyn.
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