I've been off Facebook for most of the last 2 months. A few days ago I went back. A friend had linked to a blog written by another woman who lost her home in the fire. Damn, I wish I'd thought of that name (I'll never again listen to that Talking Heads song without thinking of the fire). I wish I'd taken the time to make my blog look better. I wish I could write the way she does. I wish I had written:
- "There are people all around me, at all times." None of us have gotten used to people walking by our windows, looking in at us. Erin wonders why a car is stopping outside our house at night. Alan can't remember that blinds need to be closed. I forget that clothes are required in town.
- "Ninety-nine percent of the people I talk to each day are wonderful, helpful, incredible people. And every day – every single day, someone says something that is inadvertently hurtful, stupid or inappropriate, and it goes like a knife into my heart. Wonderful people. Well meaning people."
- "As a culture we are obsessed with “moving on” after a tragedy...People are like, ‘Hey, your tragedy is So Last Month. Whaddaya got that’s new?" People ask me if things are 'back to normal'. I will never be 'back' to normal. There will be a new normal at some point, I suppose. But, it isn't here yet. Last night after I boiled potatoes for dinner, I realized we had no potato masher. The little things in life help to define 'normal'.
- "Being nice and taking care of everyone is too exhausting. These days I am too tired to worry about what people think of me. There is a sharp, raw edge to everything, that seems to have temporarily taken away my Need to Be Liked."
What have I learned that Andi hasn't already written? I've learned that I hate the word, the concept, of "victim". I've stayed away from the free store where people donated things to "fire victims". On the surface I said it was because people who had no insurance and no support system needed those much more than I did. Underneath, it was because I didn't want that damn label of "victim".
I've learned that everyone has tragedy in their lives. Sometimes it's larger, sometimes smaller, sometimes more present, sometimes hidden. I could say I've learned that it's all about how we handle it. But that's just Mary Poppins bullshit. What I have learned is that, for me, it's about living it. Rather than hiding the anger, I've started to live it. Yes, I'm lucky. Yes, I have so much to be grateful for. Yes, it could have been (and was for some) so much worse. But, I'm still pissed. I'm angry at God, angry at myself for being angry, just angry.
And I've learned, that once I let the anger be, it starts to go. Yes, I already knew that. I took the psychology classes. I knew the stages of grief. I read the self-help books. I knew about expressing versus repressing emotions. It doesn't matter what I knew. Now I know.
So, I'm starting to come out of hiding. I went back to work. That helped. I traveled to California 3 times. Each time I got one good night's sleep. That was one more than I was getting at home. Now, I'm up to 3 good nights a week. That helps. I met a friend for drinks last week. I'm going to an event tonight. I'm writing on the blog today.
I may be back in hiding by tomorrow or next week. No guarantees. No normal, at least not yet.
(Thanks, Andi, for helping me to come out of hiding with your words.)