November 12, 2020

What I Learned from Watching my World go up in Flames.

We are never truly prepared for the uncertainties of life.

That’s why they are called uncertainties, obstacles, or unpredictable events. Sure, you can plan for certain scenarios, but there are still some incidents that you don’t ever think would truly happen to you, like a house fire.

Instantaneously, you find yourself in somewhat of a time warp without any time to think. Your true nature pushes to the forefront, and your subconscious self makes an instant decision if you are a flight-or-fight person. Whoever you are will dictate what actions you take.

Will you lead or follow?

It is a bit strange that everyone’s true natures align so perfectly and automatically without any real time to think it through. However, you can only hope that personalities do not clash and start working against one another, creating even more chaos.

In many ways, when everything is burning to the ground, everything slows down. But it speeds up at the same time.

Your actions become automatic, almost robotic, and any emotions that would normally emerge are pushed into the backroom—dealt with later on. It’s like a rollercoaster ride you did not stand in line for; you were pushed into it or drug along.

In these crazy scenarios, it feels unreal—you struggle with the reality of what is occurring right in front of you. Firemen are storming the house from all sides, and you wonder what is going on. This is your home, but suddenly you feel torn between despair, loss, disbelief, attachment, and detachment.

The fire marshal asks for the sequence of events and then leaves. As a matter of fact, everyone leaves. You were the top attraction for an hour, and then everyone disappears back into their own lives. But you now have nothing to go back to.

You step inside your home, toxin-filled smoke hits your lungs (again), and all you see is the rubble of a once cozy environment. It feels strange, disconnected, sad, confusing, and empty.

You are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start putting everything back together; because you can’t. You cannot just start cleaning up, picking up broken pieces as if you just dropped a vase, and shattered porcelain pieces are across the floor.

Everything is broken, engulfed in smoke and debris.

Where do you start?

Do you start?

What do you do?

Only questions come to mind. Even hints of answers are questionable.

It all hits you at once, and the wave of emotions you were pushing back the entire time is now taking over. It’s like an enormous monster that swallows you up whole without an escape.

Your heart is beating a million miles an hour, your lungs hurt, your head hurts, and you are still trying to hold it all together for the sake of the people around you.

But it keeps building, and the more you think about it, the worse it gets. You are only one step away from opening the dam of tears and emotions, but realize that nobody would be prepared for that, so you keep it hidden inside. You swallow it.

Now what? Nowhere to go. Nobody to provide directions, a game plan of what’s next.

This is the time when family and friends are your rescue team. And I cannot thank everyone enough who has reached out to lend a helping hand, no matter what that might look like: a temporary home, shelter, food, a shower, or merely providing a sense of “normal.”

You are displaced and aware of this every second of every day after the fire. You are trying to piece your life together as fast as you can—to erase the event’s reality, but it is not that easy. There is no Band-Aid big enough to cover up the wound, the gaping hole that’s left behind.

A fire is like losing a family member; everything you have known and experienced has literary gone up in smoke. You are forced to start from scratch—rebuild your physical and emotional life—while trying to keep a positive attitude for your kids. Even in these tremendously difficult and challenging times, you don’t want to make them think hope is a thing of the past.

A home fire, just like any other unforeseen impactful event, is traumatic, and everyone recovers from it in different ways. No matter what, it takes time, and the emotional aspect will leave scars that you carry with you forever.

However, I am extremely grateful to be surrounded by family and friends.

If nothing else, an event like this reveals what truly matters in life: relationships and the feeling of belonging.

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