Surviving: Day 2.5

After writing yesterday morning, my day went through some interesting ups and downs. Soon after arriving at work, no longer having a husband or children around to be strong and calm for, and having to see and talk to other people at last, the tears finally overcame me – and once they had begun, it seemed impossible to hold them at bay. I sobbed, and sobbed, and finally let the emotions wash over me rather than remaining calm and in control. Fortunately I was able to access crisis counselling at this point, and had a long and very helpful session with a lovely counsellor named Janine.

It was so helpful to hear what is ‘normal’, what to expect, what I should be doing. She said that the first five to seven days are the most crucial, and that I should expect my emotions to be all over the place during this time: I will probably find myself standing in front of the fridge I had just opened wondering what on earth I was doing there (this has, in fact, happened since then!). She said that I really should force myself to talk to people, and tell the story over and over again – that each re-telling is part of the healing. Lastly, she explained that it is only if any overwhelming fear, anxiety, or other strong emotions remain after this seven-day period that intensive counselling might be required. However, while she thought Clive and I handled and are handling the entire situation exceptionally well, she was more concerned about some of the previous traumas in my life that I have not fully processed and moved on from, and thus suggested that I meet with a counsellor on Thursday to start to work through some of those past events.

I couldn’t have asked for better support at work – wonderful colleagues being respectful of my wishes, giving space or hugs as I alternately desired, and a CEO who was not only happy to be a shoulder to cry on and a supplier of tissues, but to order me a new work laptop immediately, knowing how important it is for me to get back into my usual routines as quickly as possible.

I felt much better for the counselling session, which was followed later in the day by a Chiropractic treatment that, while painful, helped a great deal with my physical recovery. By the afternoon I was feeling mellow and relaxed again, and got home to find that Clive had arranged for his parents to look after the children for the evening. He said it was in order for us to begin to get quotes for some of the items that had been stolen, so we could start to piece together what – in the absence of any insurance – we would be able to replace.

While we did complete this task, Clive had an ulterior motive, and whisked me off for dinner. This turned out to be the best possible therapy: we shared some wine and a delicious meal, and laughed as we talked through the events of Saturday night: deep, honest, full-bodied, connecting laughter. We laughed again at the futility of leaving Clive’s asthma pump by his head; of quite how stumped they were when Clive said his grandfather was born in South Africa, and when, pushed on why we don’t own a gun, he said, “I don’t believe in guns”, which flabbergasted them as much as if he had just said, “I don’t believe in fairies.” We spoke of our relief that they had left the toolbox on the kitchen floor and within reach, and the various thoughts that had gone through our heads. It was fascinating how I had focused mostly internally, and on Clive: controlling my breathing, relaxing my muscles, keeping up a calming dialogue in my head – while he had focused predominantly externally, listening intently to every movement, the tone of their voices, and what little we could understand of their Zulu dialogue.

We were both a little anxious coming home, though I had a pleasant distraction on the drive: a conversation with my father, which lasted the entire journey, and kept my focus away from thoughts of the empty house ahead. We both over-rode the anxiety with logic, and calmly locked up the house and collapsed into bed for another exhausted, deep sleep, feeling firmly on the road back to normality, though knowing there is still a bumpy journey ahead.

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