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Saturday, November 3, 2012

I think I'm still sane.

Remember Catch 22? The Book and the Movie?
The premise was a complex conundrum: if you know you are crazy, you are then not that crazy!

Does the same apply to sanity? If you think you are always sane, you might not be?

When you go through a major trauma, you question your own ability to cope with all that's demanded of you, all that you demand of yourself. Keeping on top of these demands, coping with all that you must do to carry on will tire you; will deflate you' will make you wonder if you can make it through;  it will ask you to think short term the entire time, knowing that if you think long term, you will break down.

The people affected by Sandy have experienced the unthinkable!
Every second, they are experiencing additional doses of trauma, pain -discomfort -fear.  They tell each other that they are still coping; they manage to find positives to talk about. Yet, hunger, cold, dirt, and the devastation in front of them numb all other sensations.

We cannot picture this if we have not experienced it ourselves.

This is hell.

It took us decades for my husband, Brian and I to recover from the Northridge Earthquake where we lost our house, its contents, our savings, our child's college fund, our investments. Thank God for FEMA, for SMall Business Administration, the National Guard, Churches, employers who extended their hands and helped us cope, and even mortgage holders who modified our payments until we could begin to collect insurance.

Do you think your bills will stop coming because you no longer have a home?

It took us years to recover, and we had insurance and savings. It took us decades to find our way back financially, emotionally, socially, and even career-wise.


Tomorrow, Sandy and its aftermath will not be in the news. Yet, the harm, the sheer destruction will take years and decades to be repaired. People's nerves and finances will take just as long.
If you know anyone in these straits, know that they need to talk; they need to know you are there for them; they need to explain to you the details of their discomfort; and you need to be a giving soul, attend to them as long as they need; as long as they are hurting. Banks and many institutions will need to be charitable and kind, assisting in many ways, offering options that have never been on the table for these people who have lost everything.


23 comments:

Terra said...

Rosaria, with your own traumatic experiences in the earthquake you gave me a new insight into what people are facing with the Sandy storm, and also how to help them. Thank you. And I think you are sane :)

Brian Miller said...

oddly enough it is our greatest traumas as well that bring us together....look at 9/11, Katrina....at least on the disaster level...and it is much the same in life...none of us is untouched...there is something humbling when we realize that...

Joani said...

Thank you for this writing. What bothers me the most are the elders that really have no place to go and probably do not have the funds if there were places. Probably because I am an elder and if this happened to me....well. My prayers & thoughts are with the people of the area. Hugs

ds said...

You are among the sanest, wisest people I have ever known, Rosaria.
It is heartening to see the ways folks are coming together to help one another here: free hot meals, charging stations, places to go to get warm. I am among the luckiest of the lucky, now having power, knowing my friends, family and co-workers are safe and well, if not precisely comfortable. Brian is right: our greatest traumas do bring us together--the human spirit rises--and it is humbling.
Your experience was terrible. I am glad that it was (eventually) resolved in a good way, though its scars linger. Thank you for sharing it. Courageous suits you, too.

Roberta said...

Rosaria, I had no idea that you lost everything in that earthquake. I am so sorry.

I sit here and cry every time the news comes on and I see the women from Staten Island and the Rockaways crying and hugging. It was a truly horrifying event.

I have many friends who still have no power...........

Lisa said...

You shine a light on the pictures I see and news I read.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Thanks for this insightful post, Rosaria. With the experience of surviving a major trauma, you bring up the point -- too often overlooked by those unaffected -- that recovery takes years and, in some ways, the emotional trauma lingers even longer. It's important for us to remember that those whose lives have been turned upside down by Sandy will need help and support for a long time after the disaster has ceased to capture headlines.

Rian said...

I guess that's where the saying, "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger" comes from... adversity... all kinds. But thoughts, prayers, and physical assistance help pave the way to recovery. So hopefully all those people who need help will get it ASAP. People complain that FEMA is slow, but I agree with you, thank goodness for FEMA... and the Red Cross, good neighbors, etc.

erin said...

rosaria, always we need to be empathetic. this is your call. i hear you))))

and i am humbled to know how much you have lost. (while i write this sentence i know i still know nothing of what you have lost over the years.)

i think about what you have told me of your mother and her determination. i see it run through you. and while sandy has not run her course with you (this time) you manage all sorts of weather and turmoil, don't you.

strength and understanding for all those who struggle.

xo
erin

Cheryl Cato said...

Rosaria, this is a wonderful post. I did not know you were in the center of the Northridge earthquake. I an understand the devastation & how disheartened these people feel.
The wildfires that went through Bastrop County 1 yr & 2 months ago (Labor Day) destroyed 1600+ homes and burned 32,000 acres. It has been a mess to clean up. The houses that burned had nothing left except the foundations. The waterlines underground melted, the telephone & TV cables burned & electricity was out for 3 to 4 weeks.
Just this week the tree cutters began in our area cutting down hundreds, maybe thousands, of trees that are endangering power lines, roadways, & property. All this is in an area of Lob-lolly pines & oaks. Some people are rebuilding, but many, many decided to move elsewhere. Only three of our neighbors are rebuilding out of 13 on our street alone.
I used my iTunes account last night and donated to the recovery effort because I know exactly how they feel.
Gerald & I were lucky in that we did not loose our home & we have 2 neighbors beside us whose houses were spared.

yaya said...

Thank you for sharing what must have been a horrible time in your life. You have had a few of those and have been open and always honest with your feelings. We live in an "instant gratification" society and expect things to just be over in a snap. Short memories and moving on with our own lives pushes the continuing need of the victims out of our minds. Thank you for reminding and educating us on what is important. There are many ways to help the people of "Sandy" and hopefully we will all do what we can.

Helen said...

Dear Rosaria,

Thank you for writing this ... no matter where we live we are all impacted in some way. I sent a donation to the Red Cross last night during the concert. It was wonderful seeing the celebrities who hail from that part of the country set aside whatever they were doing, to help.

Eva Gallant said...

Those among us who were not touched by this disaster needed to read this. Thank you so much for writing it. And never doubt your sanity; you are soooo on top of it all!

Step-parent's Cove said...

I guess I needed to read your post!

Yesterday I received an email from a crude customer. She was writing to ensure I would honor a contract forced from her deceitful ways. She had been affected by Sandy. Normally I am compassionate towards those who have lost everything to any type of disaster. Under a different circumstance I would have given her a full refund and told her to keep the item purchased, and wished her a better day. But I refused to allow self to find pity for a woman who felt it was okay for me to pay for her mistake. Refused! However, after reading your post I have a small portion of empathy for the bitter woman. She may have cost me $20 or $30 dollars but she has lost more than she gained.

I know your post wasn't about karma but it did help me find an ounce of sadness for a swindler.

janis said...

wonderful post and so true. I feel that whenever someone is going through a similiar tragedy it triggers our own tragedies.
Rosaria~ your words speak strength... you are an amazing person that I greatly admire and have pleasure in finding your writings and appreciate your insight.

She Writes said...

What would we do without one another?

joeh said...

I think you are insanely sane especially for all you have lost in several tragedies. Sandy is just an inconvience for me, but a half
Ole away hundreds have lost everything. Thanks for your thoughts, tha ks to all who donate, and thanks to the workers from all a cross the country who have traveled to help put our infer structure back together.

Linda Myers said...

I watch disasters from afar, thinking myself able to connect but having no idea. I wish there were something I could do for one particular family - any family.

Zimbabwe said...

You have obviously experienced one of the worst things ever to loose your home and all your belongings. Then of course you went through the horrendous loss of Brain as well. I often wonder why some people seem to get it all. You seem to have held it all together through all of this and I am happy that you are still who you are.
I have friends in Delaware that I was so worried about with Sandy, but they have come through it all with everything intact, it was a worrying night for all concerned though.
Keep well and take care Diane

becky said...

I can't believe you've lived through something so traumatic...so few of us do...and yet there are so many of us that do. From a distance, we have so little to do except to write that check to support a recovery...which I am doing.

Ruth said...

I too am astonished and humbled by your earthquake experience, and the toll it took for so long. You are so right, that we go on with little steps, unable to think about the whole thing at once. Thank god our minds can do this.

I agree with DS that you are wise and sane, and while you have a tender heart, you have a bold mind. I look to you for a no-nonsense view of life. There is something freeing about this life of ours as we live out our years, as we leave behind the limitations of youth (even though we face other kinds of limitations). Thank you for how you show us, with beautiful openness.

Amanda said...

rosaria, i didn't know you suffered through the northridge quake and lost your home and so much else. as erin said, i am humbled by the loss in your life. you alone understand what those are now struggling with on the east coast. yes, the news coverage shifts away once another story grabs the headlines. but like haiti, or japan or katrina, the recovery is ongoing. perhaps forever.

Brendamyve said...

What would we do without one another?