Surviving: Days 3 & 4

I am finding the mornings inordinately difficult. Waking up after yet another long, deep sleep, I feel increasingly exhausted, and less and less willing to leave the warmth and safety of my bed. I also seem to be most vulnerable to flash-backs in those first few minutes of consciousness, and have a constant feeling of nausea until I am out the house. I’m struggling to eat breakfast, and this morning resorted to a cup of Milo for sustenance.

Yesterday, at work, I was bright and cheery all day – not because I felt as if I had to be, but because that was how I was feeling. My new work laptop arrived, so I could busy myself with getting everything set up, and working out how much was on my back-up and how much I have lost. The messages and emails that kept trickling in lifted my spirits enormously. My levels of concentration, however, were extremely low, and remain so today. My brain seems willing to engage with practical tasks, such a re-organising files and folders, but is shying away from anything that requires real thought or engagement, such as responding to emails or slowly trying to re-populate my calendar from memory.

By the time I got home yesterday evening, the exhaustion had begun to feel overwhelming. I was merely going through the motions making butternut soup for dinner, my hands and eyelids feeling heavy, even speech a slurred effort. Clive was equally exhausted, struggling to concentrate through the day and finding clear thought a challenge. The children too were unusually tired, and it was difficult to keep all of our frayed nerves and short tempers together. At a time when we need more than ever to pull together as a loving family, appreciating every minute of being alive and being together, everything just suddenly felt like too much to cope with, and it was hard not to snap when Rhys slurped his soup and Tristan whined about doing his homework.

There are many little things to feel joyful about through the days: from friends sending songs so I can begin to slowly rebuild my beloved music collection, to my sister saying she has a fantastic camera she doesn’t use that I can have as a birthday present to replace my precious Canon 450D, and Clive’s solid, calm wisdom and support. There are unfortunately also nasty little shocks as I realise more and more things we have lost: with all of our documents and photographs gone, as they took not only the computer but our back-up external hard drive too, I think every now and then of all the photographs I took on our final holiday with my mom in Scotland which I never shared with anyone and are now gone, and the hours of meticulously putting together baby journals for my children, with photographs and stories as they grew, which I had planned to print and bind for them when they were a little older. I found myself inordinately angry when I realised my running shoes and heart-rate monitor were missing, as I have been seeing running as something to focus my energy on now that back and neck challenges mean that intensive paddling will no longer be sensible after this year, and upset when I put on my blue satin shirt this morning and could not find the amber necklace I usually wear with it.

Of course things are just things, and I have always believed it is misguided to place value or attach our happiness to possessions; in fact, after previous robberies, I have found myself coming back again and again to the deep belief that it is better to have less: the less you have, the less you have to lose, and the more you can appreciate life itself rather than being weighed down with the objects that clutter it. It is not, however, the objects themselves that I am missing, but the things they represent or what they enabled me to do: photographs as creative output, art, and memory-holders; shoes to enable the joy and therapy of running; devices to communicate with those I love far away; music to make my heart sing. I know they will slowly be replaced, and gradually be forgotten, but for now I’m giving myself a little space to feel sad for their loss: mourning is, after all, an important part of letting go and moving forward.

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5 thoughts on “Surviving: Days 3 & 4

  1. There is nothing useful I can say, but I just repeat to myself and you, that I am shocked that such a thing should happen to such a lovely family, and if these comments help in any small way to tell you how you are valued then that is a small something. There will be a way through this, and you will find it x

  2. Dear Laurel
    I’ve just done a course in Trauma Debriefing and the exhaustion and emotional rollercoaster you describe on days 3 & 4 after the trauma you experienced is textbook. I found it really fascinating to understand how our amazing bodies and minds cope with trauma, and how the lizard brain takes over, allowing our strongest instincts (fight/flight/freeze) to do what will ensure our survival. The flashbacks and the exhaustion kick in once the enormous surge of trauma-induced adrenalin subsides and the cortex part of our brain starts processing what has been experienced, making sense of the fragments and smoothing over it like the ocean working on a piece of glass.
    Having a textbook reaction to trauma is no consolation, I’m sure, except to know that your amazing mind and body are doing the best they can be doing, and that your mind is already engaging with processing, recovering and overcoming this assault on your person.
    Sending love, light and vuma.
    x Ruth (nee Townsend)

    1. Hi Ruth,
      I must say that I do always find it strangely reassuring when I fall into the ‘expected’ range of reactions to things 🙂 Sometimes, average is a pretty good place to be! It really is fascinating how we adapt to things. Thanks SO much for sharing that, and for your kinds words and reassurance. Much love x

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