May 2016: Fire
The fire was followed by a period of grieving and then by an incredible lightness, freedom, and mobility.
May has been a strange month thus far and doesn’t appear to be changing as the end approaches. It’s been busy and chaotic with one of this month’s themes being fire. Principally wildfires that have devastated parts of Northern Alberta and British Columbia. It is overwhelming to think of the long recovery process, in all its aspects, from basic physical needs to the more complex trauma-related ones.
I also learned this month that my former residence in a neighbouring town had been destroyed by fire and replaced with a new unit. I lived several years in that original mobile home. Practiced my fledgling interior decorator skills on numerous projects. That home was kind of a ‘baby’ to me as well as a created and creative haven.
Many memorable moments happened there as well as personal and professional stepping stones. We had moved to the region so that I could start my Masters studies in counselling. It was the first community my husband and I lived in without nearby family connections. We built up our lives from scratch so-to-speak. Lasting friendships were made, new skills learned, careers evolved.
Now that the home is gone, it is like a symbolic marker of my life has disappeared. There are photos and stories that attest the moments did occur; but somehow there is something missing without the physical structure there anymore.
The irony of the home’s destruction by fire is not lost on me, either, as that has been a primary fear of mine for a long time. The entire time I lived there, I worried about losing everything to fire each time I left the house. In retrospect, it was a very unhealthy, obsessive fear which I no longer suffer from. Not that fire ceases to be a concern, but it no longer consumes me or contributes to obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviours. Now that is a relief and source of freedom!
I have never lost anything to fire before, so my fear was not based on experience. It was quite irrational. Loss by fire is so absolute. Not unlike loss by death. As a young child, losing my mother was very absolute and all-encompassing. I lost many tangible and intangible ‘things’ with her death. To lose to fire the life (and its symbolic shell) that I had built was similar to me. It was like losing my anchor.
I have since learned to be more grounded in my sense of self than in things or people. I know I could survive the loss of home, or person, or pet. Experience has taught me it is incredibly difficult, but do-able. As the above quote says, there is a period of grieving followed by release. The grieving is intense. The recovery, fruitful. Growth does follow tragedy.
Fire represents so much. Destruction as well as healing and re-growth. The old is burned away so that new can develop and blossom. Fire is seen as a purification and restoration process. Above all, it is incredibly dangerous and must be respected—whether it be literal or figurative.
How are you handling the fires in your life?
May you experience growth and renewal whatever fires life brings your way.