November 2012 The Night I Lost Myself.

I've been looking for a group online that I could read the stories of others, and maybe feel like there was someone out there I could relate to. It's been one month today that our home burned down. I was at home, with three kids. 15 yr old son, 10 yr old daughter and 4 year old daughter. We had all gone to bed. At about 11 p.m. the fire alarms started going off. At first, thinking it was a mistake, because our kitchen alarm would go off at anything.. I was fanning at it to make it stop.. then realized all the alarms were going off. I looked toward the front door and saw cloudy gray air... not really smoke. My son started yelling and I realized there were huge flames coming out of his wall. He was kicking at it, and then all of a sudden the whole area on that floor of the house was full of black smoke from the ceiling down, about 3 feet. Still half asleep, I could not believe what I was seeing. I got the girls up and my son all out of the house. I ran back in for my phone (which I still dont remember doing) and called 911.

It seemed like forever before the fire department arrived; however it actually had only been very few minutes. But by the time the first (out of four) fire engines that arrived - it was too late. The house was fully taken over by this monster wave of fire. I'm sure the flames were upwards of atleast 75 to 80 feet in the air above the house.

The four of us stood there, in our pajamas and barefeet, watching our home and basically our lives be swept away by fire and hearing the ungodly sound of glass shattering and blowing out of the windows.

I keep hearing "it's just stuff"... it wasn't the "stuff" I cared about. It was seeing what I saw, hearing what I heard and feeling completely helpless and severely lacking any control of the situation. We also lost two kittens we had rescued several months before from a bad home. Hoping that they got out; however, later my husband found one in the aftermath of it all.

Luckily, for the most part, kids seem to be doing just fine. The 4 year old gets upset every night at bedtime, afraid another fire will happen. The 10 year old seems completely fine as does our 15 year old. I on the other hand, cannot get a grip.

After spending the majority of this past month in hotel, roughly 30 days, we are now in a condo temporarily while we begin to rebuild. Thankful to finally be out of a hotel.... where we were all on top of eachother and our lives were unstructured and chaotic as best. Atleast now there is a little bit more space and I can almost see a light at the end of the tunnel.

However, I find myself very much on edge, anxious, moody, irritable, then I'll start crying, then I'll be mad... etc etc etc. I started counseling, mainly to learn how to cope with the weird triggers that throw me back into that night... smelling smoke, seeing fires (as simple as the ones in restaurants), hearing alarms, even sometimes seeing running water or hearing water. I will completely zone out and be back in the yard, watching those massive flames and can see the water and chemicals shooting out of the hoses the firemen were using. I smell smoke and it makes me sick to my stomach. I cannot focus on work and I am lucky (as are those driving around me) that I haven't rear ended someone or worse. Even driving, I catch myself just plainly and simply zoning out.

I went to my dr. and asked for a script for xanax, thinking it would help. I told him it was that or I'd be carrying around a wine bottle everywhere I went... and the meds would be more discreet. He did give me a script for xanax and even that doesn't help.

I keep going thru the "what ifs" of the whole situation. Which is completely rediculous.... There are no "what ifs" we all made it out.. and thats all there is to it. My husband was not there, so sometimes I think he would just rather i get over it and move on. I wish the same. I wish it were that easy.

I'm hoping to read more of your stories, and somehow hoping that if I see Im not alone and not the only one whose completely lost her mind and self. I'm desperately trying to get back to "me".... I just need some direction.
tcbali tcbali
41-45, F
2 Responses Dec 5, 2012

That's really sad. Don't worry; your not alone. I was also in a house fire 18 September 2011. I remember the date clearly. I'm here for you- its fine.

This was such a well written account of the disaster that your family endured. I agree- to say "it's just stuff" is dismissive of photos, awards and your children's art, to name a few. Perhaps they (we) should say "Thank God your family got out safely." I wish you and yours the best holidays under your circumstances.