I am currently partaking in a study being done concerning women who were pregnant during the 2016 wildfire in Fort McMurray. I am asked questions in which I have to reflect on and journal about. I wanted to share with you one of my journal entries.
Here it goes:
*note: this is an edited version of my original entry*
My biggest fear was the fire.
I was born and raised in Fort McMurray. I have been here my whole 27 years of life and that has always been one of my biggest fears; having a fire and not being able to escape. Thank God, we did. One of my biggest fears coming to life still feels surreal. It feels like a movie that I could question actually even happening. That is, until I have a glance around and my sight is filled with thin black trees and the stories they tell. I guess I have a fear of feeling trapped. And of feeling helpless. Feeling out of control. Unable to protect my family.
During the evacuation, I would often stay up late at night unable to sleep, thinking about my hometown. How it looks. If it is the same way I remember it. If it is even there anymore. The place I learned to ride my bike. The woods and that little creek where me and my cousins would spend hours playing. The place I had my first kiss. My favourite park. Where I tried my first sip of alcohol with my friends. Where I graduated. The woods where we partied and the backyard I met my husband in. Is it still there? The hospital where my family, myself, and my babies were born… is it still there? The house I grew up in… my house? Is it still there? Or is everything I love, everything I know, all the memories that make up my life, are they all gone? I guess I had a fear of losing. Losing everything. Materials, memories, life as I knew it.
Now that I’m back I don’t feel that as much. Lately, in the last couple of months I have been having nightmares that consist of either re-living the fire or being in some other situation where I am in danger and have to escape and each time I am frantically trying to search for my oldest baby, who was 1 year old at the time of the evacuation. Every dream ends with me eventually finding her and we are eventually safe but the panic of looking for her during the dream is with me through out my day. My biggest fear would have to be not being able to protect my children. So big in fact I prefer not thinking about it.
Writing has really helped me through everything in my life. I tend to bottle my emotions so that I don’t have to really feel them and I often have a hard time expressing what I’m trying so hard not to feel. A blank page has become my most trusting friend and the most helpful therapist. I encourage all who endured the fire to try journalling. If you don’t know where to start, try talking about your biggest fear(s), you might be surprised with what comes out. I wish all my fellow Fort McMurrites healing, whatever way you find it ❤