Trauma in a Time of Fire #sonomastrong

Imagine it, you are under major stress and someone says “Just stay in the moment”. You roll your eyes, “being in the moment” sounds impossible, or just plain ridiculous. During times of extreme stress “the moment” is not a pleasant place to be and yet, it may be what we need the most.

But yet we fiercely avoid it. We fill our schedules so much we attempt to edge out the pain. Or we numb it out, with alcohol, drugs or other ways, enjoying a respite, however brief. And we may stay locked away in bed, or glued to the couch, harnessing ourselves from the world, watching TV or eating to dull the waves of pain inside.

There are many ways to avoid, the hard part is to stay in it. To stay present, to stay in the moment. Even when that moment changes everything.

Just a couple weeks ago catastrophic fires ravaged gorgeous Sonoma County, hitting our beloved neighboring city of Santa Rosa the hardest. It devastated thousands of homes of our friends and neighbors as our rolling green hills were tarnished black.

The pain of this devastation stopped us in our tracks, transfixed by the images on the news and in the papers of our beautiful county burning more by the day. Hearts broke reading stories of the pain our neighbors, friends and families suffered. We were in a state of dire emergency.

Sitting in the pain and fear of this catastrophe was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I read through the stories and photos of devastation as press conferences updated us with hard facts about everything the fire was taking away from us. Places I loved were burning, friends homes were gone, loved ones homes still threatened.

My body, heart, and mind would fill to the brink, before I needed to turn it all off, and give myself a moment to try to absorb it all. Sometimes that meant putting on a protective mask and walking the smokey streets, other times it meant checking in with those around me, sometimes I just sat and stared into space, and other times I would just cry without any control over my tears.

I noticed that the sadness and pain was like a wave, reaching a peak and ebbing out, multiple times throughout the day. For me, being present through that tragedy, meant tuning in to what was going on inside, the emotions, thoughts or lack of emotions or thoughts. But tuning in, and if there was a need, taking care of it.

But staying in the moment did not always mean staying in the pain. We can’t stay in that pain 24/7, it’s just too much for our systems. We had family that had been evacuated staying with us throughout the week. We moved through the ebbs and flows of the fire together. On Friday someone turned on a song and we realized we hadn’t listened to music all week. We turned up the music and turned down the lights and danced and laughed the night away. That was the moment we needed.

We must temper what we take in, giving ourselves time to metabolize it through our systems. It’s important to recognize that we all metabolize pain and trauma at different paces. Recognizing your own process of digesting pain is so important, as well as taking a moment to ask yourself “What do I need?”, “How can I take care of myself right now?”. Sometimes you may not have an answer. But sometimes you may surprise yourself. And these tiny moments of self-care add up and with time and a ton of patience, we will begin to move through this together #sonomastrong

By |2019-01-14T19:42:00-08:00October 28th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Kim Buksa, MFT is a licensed therapist located in the Bay Area, California. She specializes in working with children and adolescents with anxiety and excessive worry. She also works as a mental health counselor at an Elementary Charter School.

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