While walking through the halls at work this morning I had a random thought enter my mind. It was inspired by an episode of Mad Men… they were discussing a company called London Fog, and then there it was. The realization of what it is really like to go through something awful, what truly happens to a person emotionally at the point impact. Of course it is common for a person to say they were “in a fog”, so common in fact that I do not think it registers what that means. I can only speak for myself and others who have shared their own experiences with me, but I find every little insight can be helpful.
From the moment I opened the door to the police on that day almost three years ago till about March, 2011, I was in the fog. This fog is like that that follows a terrible storm, the smoke and smog that follows a meltdown or explosion and surrounds you with a terrifying quickness. The image that sticks in my mind is after the Twin Towers fell and the dust and rubble surrounded all those nearby… or maybe a tsunami... When I opened the door to see the crew of police it was like that 2-3 seconds before the cloud hits you. You see it coming, but there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it. Then you are trapped. You are almost blind. You can’t breathe.
It is so easy to be lost. There are those who give up and live the rest of their lives in the cloud, or those who try so hard to get out, but are just unable to. Then there are those who get out and find the sun again. I was one of the lucky ones who can say I feel the rays on my face again. It was a lot of hard work, but some of it was luck also. So, now I get to my advice:
• Don’t panic. Never make a move without thinking it through! If you were really in a fog or tsunami, every move would count. You would not want to go running and flailing through the unknown. It is dangerous and a waste of energy. There are hazards in tragedy as well. You have lost your sight in the fog, so use your other senses. Before you say yes or sign any paperwork, read it of have it read by an attorney/trusted neutral party. It is more than ok to grieve. It is not ok to take your pain out on others or yourself.
• Don’t ignore. You can’t pretend that everything is fine. Of course your personal tragedy should not be the only thing you ever talk about, and you shouldn’t spill your guts to everyone you meet, and remember to keep professional at work. However, if you are constantly pretending that everything is fine and it will fix itself, you stand to lose a lot. Especially when it comes to financial and legal manners you need to get your ducks in a row.
• Move forward. I have said it before, I am saying it again. Push yourself daily. At first it may be a battle just to get out of bed, take a shower, get out of the house. Set yourself small goals and push yourself forward. Standing still for too long will bury you in the debris and going backwards will put you into the burning embers.
• Protect yourself. Get a lawyer, a therapist or other professional that fits your particular situation. Stitch up your wounds, care for yourself and prepare for aftershocks and future battles.
• Keep your cool. Aside from panic there is also anger and overreaction. Do not let this take over. Saying things you do not mean (or even things you DO mean) to the wrong person can be bad for you. Posting your anger online could be giving someone else ammunition. In a divorce/custody situation the other party may fight to keep you in the darkness and the brink of self-destruction. Don’t help them. It will also surprise you how clear your head can be when it is not tied up with anger/vengeance. You will be able to navigate and feel your way through the fog better, I promise.
• Rebuild. When you find yourself in the clear or close to it, make sure you begin to rebuild your life. Make sure you build a stronger fortification than the first time… but for every reinforced and armored wall you put up remember to place a door… the object is to be smarter not to cut yourself completely off.