Sifting through the flood of memories


As the anniversary of the great flood of 2013 rolls around, you may be surprised by how emotional you become.
Memories stored in the body, submerged in consciousness, may surface.  Rebirth comes of its own accord—but the old trauma, the fear of the unknown, still loiters.
Many clients come to me, especially as the first anniversary approaches, saying they feel anxious about the flood. The potential for unexpected devastation looms in a way that it never did before.
“What’s coming up?” I ask my clients. “What’s triggering you?”
The trauma gets stuck in the body and find no way to discharge.
Even something as right as rain can feel wrong—dangerous even.
EMDR can help cope with the heightened responses you may be experiencing.
The fact is trauma can lodge itself like a thorn. You need to find a way to access your pain, your beliefs around that pain, in a way that is helpful—and supportive.
With the help of therapies like Brainspotting and EMDR, you can process on a somatic level. By addressing the body first, you can then process emotionally –with less of a charge.
Ultimately, the goal for is finding a way—completely personal for you—toward acceptance. Whether you lost your home, your basement, your neighborhood, or your town, or even endured minor inconvenience, disasters leave their residue.
For me, the aim is a duet between surrender and acceptance. Things will never be the same.  But different does not have to mean horrible. As much as we need to look back, we also need to look forward.
To arrive at acceptance, there are many creative, cathartic tools that can be essential companions. Here are a few of my favorites:

Write
Write a letter to a friend, to yourself, even to the river expressing your feelings around the flood. As the anniversary approaches, there are several opportunities (such as open mikes) in which you can read your work or listen to others’ words.

Plant
Planting a specific flower, plant, or tree is a powerful way to pay tribute to an event or person that literally rocked your world.  It becomes a beautiful, living reminder from nature that life goes on.

Volunteer
Helping others is a great way to become more involved and feel empowered. There are still several ways of participating in the rebuilding efforts. Good places to begin are www.lyonsvolunteers.org, jamestownco.org/volunteer/, and http://volunteer.unitedwayfoothills.org.

Ask for help
Don’t feel like you should be over this by now. There is no shame in still processing the residual feelings that come with being part of a national disaster and experiencing personal loss. Therapy is an invaluable tool for providing a space to grieve. A lot of people push their grief down, but far healthier is to let your grief emerge —and transform.

What I remember most about the flood was the kindness of our neighbors.  Everyone pitched in, moving furniture, tearing down dry wall, even just bringing by coffee. At the grocery store, I was no longer a random person buying food but a fellow survivor—in other words, a friend.
The other thing I remember was the sheer panic of it all: our communal bubble of protection had been burst. In the end, for the most part, we were all safe. No one was hurt. It was all stuff. And stuff can be replaced.
But the chance to heal, both privately and collectively, to mingle our own rebirth with that of our landscape—is priceless. Now is the time to befriend the river and let the currents wash over us, pulling us deeper into their insistent present.