How do you know that you’re safe?
As I work with other women who have survived the loss of their homes to fire, this is one theme that has emerged.
The uncertainty around “safety.”It’s something that I’ve been thinking a lot about for myself, too, as the one-year anniversary of my second house fire approaches. Last year at this time I was ambitiously preparing for the launch of my brand new website. My “coming out” so to speak, as a sexual sovereignty coach for women. Putting the finishing touches on my website felt exhilarating and vulnerable, as I was allowing a new, more real, more authentic face of myself to emerge. It was short lived. The next weekend, while I was cooking dinner, my house caught fire and burned to the ground. In a matter of hours I went from having a comfortable life to being homeless owning literally the clothes on my back. My car, my purses, my wallet, my glasses all burned up. My website launch completely faded into the background as I scrambled to attend to my son, my partner and my self… to keep us together, to try to reinforce some idea of “safety.” As the weeks went on, I realized that I had changed dramatically from January to February. Who I was, who I was supposed to be as a coach, all of that was something new that I had to discover.Bessel van der Kolk, author of the wonderful book “The Body Keeps the Score,” says “When the body feels safe, the mind feels safe.”Safety, I am learning, is not a place as much as it is a state of existence that you can cultivate within yourself. I am learning that it takes practice. Slowing down, feeling the feelings, making space for them to crest and recede helps. Tracking “glimmers” – small positive events in the day – helps retrain the brain to look for and focus on the positive instead of the negative and that helps, too. Naturally, as a coach, I looked for other coaches to help me after my house burned down, and I didn’t find anyone who worked with fire survivors. Over this last year, I have taken my own experiences of living through the loss of two house fires (yes, two), and my trauma conscious coach training to create a program that will fortify and support other women who have been thrust into the grief, the overwhelm, the trauma of rebuilding their lives after a fire. My mission is to help more women build their lives back better than before, to turn their trauma into a source of strength. I’ve created a guide to help called “From Ashes to Empowerment” and you can get it here.