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I spent some time googling “trauma expert” and “science behind trauma” the other day. It is really quite complex, I didn’t find much concrete information.
I am not going to bore you with these details, as you can also google in your free time.
What spurred this google sesh was there was a fire in our apartment building. Thank G-d everyone was safe, including the family who’s apartment it was in. Everyone evacuated and stood on the sidewalk in the dark surrounded by at least 5 fire engines with lights flashing, lots of emergency personnel, and everyone in some state of clothes and/or pajamas. We were outside for a good half hour, perhaps longer.
Why do I write this? Because I realized that I underwent some level of trauma that night, though thank G-d it was not my personal apartment in which the fire happened. I went through an initial disbelief internally that it was a true emergency or fire before running out of the apartment, followed by slow-motion putting my shoes on, knocking on a neighbor’s door, and then running downstairs still not fully believing that this was real. I’m not sure what this was about – perhaps some sort of defense mechanism or survival technique, but that’s what I felt.
Outside I felt the shock of what was happening, realizing that the family lost all their possessions in an instant. That they had no place to sleep that night. That was terrifying, upsetting, shocking, all at once. Tears came to my eyes when I realized how fortunate and blessed we all were on the sidewalk, how thankful I was that someone called the Fire Department, that they put out the fire, and that the family had run out in record time.
I’m writing this because I’m curious how you all (readers) process and go through trauma. We all endure some levels of trauma in our lives, just from living on this planet, some unfortunately to greater degrees than others.
I’m also writing this because perhaps my method of dealing with/processing the trauma can help someone else.
What I did:
I’m a kinesthetic learner, followed greatly by audio, lastly visual. I’m mentioning this because I’m very much a doer, and learn by doing. I’m not a trauma expert. However, I was so shaken up, I knew I had to DO something to help myself process this trauma without having nightmares and becoming OCD with every siren I hear outside (call me sensitive but this is how I felt after the event).
So I did some steps to help myself process the fire.
1. I spoke about it with other families in my building who had all experienced more or less the same thing that night
2. I asked around, found out where the family was staying who had experienced the fire in their apartment, and I went to ask how they were faring and offer my support in any way. She is a friend of mine and I genuinely cared about her emotional and physical wellbeing.
3. I bought 2 boxes of Duncan Hines brownie (link: https://amzn.to/2DEAnRA) and white cake mix (though at my local store the kosher symbol was different than this: https://amzn.to/2qKRMzs), baked brownies and white cake (used a hack to make the white cakes honey cakes for the Jewish Holiday season), and took an uber to the fire station, also armed with some pamphlets about the Jewish holidays in case any of the firefighters were Jewish. I thanked the firemen, they were some of the people who had been on call and responded that night to our building, and gave them brownies and honey cakes. I asked them questions about how to make my apartment more fire safe, and how to light candles in a safer way. It was fascinating to be there, I highly recommend to anyone who hasn’t visited. I learned a lot about how they work just from being there and observing, and seeing the firemen and engines up close took some of the trauma and fear factor away as well as the practical information to quell the worrying.
That’s pretty much all that I did. All in all, I feel very much like a part of me was healed and can move on. The reminders are always there – the burnt and black apartment I pass in my building, and neighbors still speaking about it, as well as my friend who moved into a new apartment. I feel that I have helped myself to move past the fear and into a healing place, and I can do that without feeling guilty instead feeling grateful and blessed, as well as inspired to help more in my community as much as I can.
I’d love to hear how you’ve helped yourself process and heal from trauma- Drop me a line, leave your comments below -let’s all share the wealth. You never know when your tip can help another! ~Shirit