Thursday, October 26, 2017

Coping

I have a feeling I am going to be writing in here again. I do better vocalizing the things in my head by writing them down.  I have tried but I never feel like the things that come out of my mouth accurately convey what I am feeling, or thinking. I don't know how to describe it ... and I feel like saying it is opening myself up way too much. So, I write ...


Does anyone else have an inner monologue? I don't "talk to myself" but I do go over things in my head and sometimes talk myself through things. I like to think it's my dad's way of somehow reaching me from beyond or whatever.  Even that sounds a little crazy.  Bear with me.  If I am nervous about a situation, my inner monologue might be saying "It's OK, Nik, just remember to breathe".  This happens a lot when I am working out.  During a WOD when I feel like giving up, I start chanting to myself in my head "Just finish, don't worry about your time, just finish". Well, the inner monologue has been talking a ton since this fire began.


It started with the drive to work.  It was a constant "What the F" over and over.  Then, it was "Please God, make it stop" which was more of a prayer than any voice talking to me. Yes, I was praying up a storm in the midst of all that, hoping that there would be some relief.  I even dropped to my knees in the stairwell on my way out to the porta-potty, pleading with God to make it all stop. But then, after the praying stopped and the monologue kicked in ... I was torn in half.


My heart aches, and I feel sick and I honestly do feel like I am having some sort of reaction to being in a crisis-mode for over two weeks. I can't sleep, I wake up constantly in the middle of the night.  I am having nightmares and if it's not a nightmare there is still some sort of flames in the dream. I cry all the time ... I think about it all the time. And, for reasons I can't put my finger on, I find myself shaking at times. I want to go out of town for a day, but I can't fathom leaving my cats in the house unattended without someone there that can evacuate them if needed.  I am more irritable than normal, and more sensitive than normal.  I know ... me?  More irritable and sensitive?  Look out world.


So this is where the inner monologue comes in. I keep lecturing myself. Over and over again, I find myself telling the rest of me to 'get over it'. I remind myself that I still have a place to live, my pets and family are OK. I have a job. I am OK. So why do I feel this way?


I need to remind myself that it is OK to feel the way that I do. I am not alone in this AT ALL. Our community is broken even if we physically came out of it unharmed.  It was a HORRIFIC, DEVASTATING, DISASTER. Once the first threat was over ... for me, at work, it continued because there were evacuations in different areas in what felt like days.  Not only did I constantly have to hear about evacuations, and go through logging them, etc ... I was also talking to people who I knew had lost family members, I was talking to people who lost their homes, their pets, their cars, their jobs ... it was constant devastation over and over and over again.  For days into weeks on end.  My regular routine of work was completely flipped on its head.


Everything I knew about the daily running of my job (as unpredictable as it is) was different. We had all the other agencies, we had upstaffing in the room, our channel lineup was different. Instead of the usual briefing by co-workers about specific calls, there was a huge fire update, and just general weirdness.  The building still smells of smoke, there are still fans running downstairs to try and fix that. We still have roads closed in some areas.  While things are slowly trickling back to the regular day to day operations, there are still HUGE work-related reminders: Missing people, closed roads, thank you notes hanging up ...


Not to mention, the reminders that I see moving about Santa Rosa. I grew up here.  Born and raised in Santa Rosa.  I have spent almost 38 years moving about Santa Rosa. I lived in Coffey Park on Crestview Ct from 2001-2002. That was the place to trick or treat growing up (I never did myself but it was the place!).  We used to park up on the newly created roads of Fountaingrove and look out over the views of Santa Rosa while that area was under construction.  I remember how sad we were that a house was then built in the spot where you could see the best view.  My ex-in-laws lived on Linda Lane. Sadly, their house was lost in all of this. I spent many a day there and I have fond memories of the house.  My heart breaks for them whenever I think about it.  Our friends who lived both in Fountaingrove and Coffey Park, I can't even ... the day after this all began, my husband drove over to try and get eyes on the part of Coffey Park where a friend of his lived ...we were able to see it.  It was gone.  I felt sick.  I don't even know how to react to that.


Don't even get me started on the businesses.  KMart hit me hard.  We shopped there a lot when I was growing up. It was like all these memories going into the abyss. The McDonalds on Hopper was where we purchased many a cheeseburger and hot fudge sundae on graveyards. Arby's and their Market-something sandwiches had fed me on many days I didn't make a lunch and realized that on my way to work when I worked swings.  The Applebee's?!  That gorgeous red Round Barn, the Hilton where we rented a room on my 19th birthday so that we could hang out and possibly drink things I wasn't supposed to be drinking when I was 19.  I remember a friend of mine mentioning using Peppermint Schnapps for mouthwash because we didn't bring toothpaste!!! Don't worry - we were all very very sober when we left the hotel room. 


Santa Rosa is my hometown. It is my home.  I know that it will rebuild and houses and businesses will sprout back up in the spaces they were knocked down but it still doesn't alleviate the pain I feel in my very being.


The only way I can describe it is ...  I see each house as a living being. Because, if you think about it ... they are.  Each house either sheltered a family, or a group of friends/roommates. The houses sheltered the memories all together, birthdays, Christmases, any sort of celebration. Funny moments, food fights, sleepovers. There were the same trash cans lining the streets on trash day, the same cars in the driveways at night as everyone was tucked in for the night.  When I see the destroyed homes, I just see a loss and it feels to me like the loss of life, even in homes where no one passed.  I can't explain it properly.  Maybe because I can't quite get my head around it.


I am not alone in feeling this way. I know this. I know that eventually, I'll be able to get myself put back together again. This isn't forever.  It's a processing thing.  We are all going to have to put ourselves back to whatever normal we are going to have going forward. Some have a monumental journey ahead of them, as they have to rebuild and actually put their whole life back together.  I just need to rearrange the puzzle pieces in my head, to shift certain fears back into a realistic spot. Alas, it is still a sort of adjustment of my own.


Thankfully, this didn't affect my love for my job.  I don't walk in here and have any sort of adverse reactions to things I experienced during the melee.  If anything, coming to work made me feel secure.  I knew what to do, even having NO idea what to do ... I knew how to do my job, I knew that I just had to dive in, and I was able to do it.  It was when I wasn't here that I wasn't feeling in any sort of control.  And yet, I still love this ... even in the face of all of that. I never, EVER, want to go through that again.  But, I do know that there is a chance that I will have to. I work in public safety.  That is my job.  I answer 911 calls, I talk to deputies on the radio as they face down dangers. This could come around again in some other sort of way.  It's life.  It's unpredictable.


For the time being, I will work on putting the pieces of my heart and mind back into a manageable shape.

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