Opened wounds


I came back home from Paris, and there it was. A notice on my apartment building door.

”About the fire”.

I froze. A thousand and one thoughts at the same time, yet a blank empty space in my mind. A fire?! Apparently there had been a fire two days prior in the attic of my apartment building. My neighbors had been evacuated during the night, and of course traumatized by the event. No one got hurt and the apartments are okay, but our storage units are damaged.

This is the third fire I’ve had to face in my thirty plus life. I was 6 years old the first time when I had a sleepover at my best friend’s house. In the middle of the night we were rushed out of the burning house as firefighters were arriving. No one got hurt and everything was fine, but I was shocked. I can still sense the fear in my body. The second time I was 16 and the house I lived in at the time burned to the ground. Luckily I woke up in the middle of the night and saw the fire in my room. Fortunately we all got out in the last second before the fire exploded and spread throughout the house. We, more or less, lost all we had. But mostly it was a highly traumatic event and the memories and flashbacks haunted me for a long, long time. So when I earlier this week stepped into the stairwell of the apartment building and the smell of fire smoke hit me, I was in an instant thrown back in time. I hate that smell, I can pick it from miles away, because it is so closely linked to trauma and fear.

Since starting this beading path I pay attention to and listen to myself in a whole new way. I live so much more in the present moment nowadays which makes me be on the very surface of every single emotion. I feel everything, there is no more shying away. It’s like I have peeled away all the layers that previously covered me, which also means that my previous high defense walls have been taken down. There are no filters anymore.

So the first day when I discovered that there had been a fire, I was just so incredibly glad that I hadn’t been there when it happened. It would have been a highly traumatic experience yet again that without a doubt would have made old wounds flash open once again. I was so utterly grateful I was okay, and that no one got hurt. It didn’t bother me that I had lost my things. But then the second day, it hit me.

I went up to the attic to check whether my storage unit was damaged. The smell almost knocked me out, but I kept on walking. The black charred walls. The ashes. The smell. It all came back and was boiling under the surface. It had started to stir up a storm inside me. And I kept on walking to my unit. My things were still there, but covered with ashes, and in heavy smoke. I probably can’t save any of it, but the sense that I can say goodbye to it made me feel some sort of comfort. But I couldn’t stay there, instinctively I knew I had to get out of there. Fast.

I got back down to my apartment and opened the windows to let some fresh air in. But the smell of the smoke just kept on pouring in through the closed door. As I was cleaning the apartment I started to feel nauseous and dizzy, like I was about to faint. I had to stop every now and then to take a deep breath. I wondered if I had caught a bug and was about to get sick, but then I realized it was an effect of the fire. It was a growing anxiety, a symptom trying to tell me to stop and get out. Instead of pushing myself, which I would have done before, I stopped. I closed the windows and walked out of the apartment to head back to my boyfriend’s place.

The pre-beading Johanna would have continued on. I would have pushed myself. Probably leading to a bigger breakdown later on. Instead, I paused. I listened to myself, to what I needed in that very moment. And left. Took the evening off to self care. To treat myself kindly. To take deep breathes. And decided to try again tomorrow.

The word me and Mhairi will ponder this month is STAND, and that is exactly what I am doing right now. It feels like I am under attack, and instead of reacting or pushing back, I’m standing with two feet on the ground. I’m not getting knocked down this time around. Instead I choose to listen to myself on an early stage. Knowing that the only thing I can do right now to get by is to just do my best by standing.

Things happen in life and they take us off course, but only because they are meant to. So I am standing in the eye of the storm, not hiding from it or fighting it. It takes some courage as I am looking my fears and demons right in the eye, and I guess that’s what I am meant to do right now.

Love, Johanna.

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