In October of this year I watched for two weeks with anguish and concern the consuming fires sweeping through Northern California, taking homes, incomes, and even lives. This past week I watched again as fires destroyed parts of Ventura County, Los Angeles, and San Diego. As a Native Californian, I have never seen such devastation from fires. As I watched the homes burn, I thought of the many who are now without homes this Christmas. I was also reminded of how my father lost his family farm from a tornado when he was a young man.
At the age of 16, my father drove his family to safety as a tornado wiped out their home and farm including all their livestock and crops. In one instant they lost everything. Though their’s was not the only farm in this midwest town to be destroyed, they were the only ones to rebuild.
As the fires sweeping through California come to an end, people will return to their homes. Some will find their house still standing, while others will find nothing but ash. Like my grandmother, they will sort through the rubble to try to find any salvageable items. Some will rebuild, while others will relocate.
And they will grieve; grieve the loss of loved ones, the loss of their home and the loss of the life they had.
Trauma affects us all differently. Like a fire that destroys some homes while barely scorching others, trauma can leave one person feeling scared, weak, and destroyed, while another will walk away with little to no scars. The difference? It comes down to resilience. Experts have studied resiliency for years, and have discovered a variety of aspects that lead to resilience including sense of humor, spirituality, and healthy attachments.
Sometimes it takes going through a difficulty to help us build resiliency and discover just how strong we really are.
Did you know that the lead of a pencil is the same chemical element as a diamond? Both the pencil graphite and the diamond are two forms of carbon. The carbon in the pencil is dark, dull, and extremely soft which makes it easy to write with. It has little to no value. The carbon in a diamond is one of the hardest surfaces. It is clear, bright, shinny, reflecting light, and has high value. The difference? The carbon in the diamond has been put through the fire; it has endured high heat and pressure.
So I ask you, do you feel like a diamond or do you feel like a pile of ash?
If you choose the later, let me help. I can provide a safe therapeutic place and help you look through the rubble, find what is still salvageable, and reclaim the peace and joy that has been taken from you. In the process, you can become the diamond you wish to be: strong, brilliant, confident, and valuable.
Mikulincer, M., Shaver, P.R.(February 2012). An Attachment Perspective on Psychopathology. World Physiatry, Vol 11(1), 11-12.
Shapiro, R.(2010). The Trauma Treatment Handbook: Protocols Across the Spectrum. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. New York, NY.
Van Der Kolk, B.A, McFarlane, A.C., and Weisaeth, L. (2007). Traumatic Stress: The Effect of Overwhelming Experience on Mind, Body and Society. Guilford Publications, Inc, New York, NY.
*originally written for and published at anxietytraumatherapy.com