By Tammy Fryer
Yay! Today is the first time in 4 years that I can finally get groceries, school clothes, and school supplies without that feeling of “something bad is going to happen”.
My PTSD will never really go away but it sure has diminished quite a bit in my mind. I have put on a lot of weight and can’t throw anything away since the fire. Since I started RET sessions (a few months ago) I have made healthier choices, lost weight, and now I’m deep cleaning my home and finally letting go of some things. I’ll be having my first yard sale in a few weeks. I think we’ll use the proceeds for my son’s church mission.
I’ve enjoy watching the TV show called Hoarders on TLC and have always been afraid that that will be me someday because of all the traumatic events I’ve survived. I’m determined to not let that be me!
Everyone goes through something that’s traumatic but not everyone seeks help with dealing with it, such as counseling. I’m stubborn and always felt like seeking help was a sign of weakness.I may have developed that attitude from being raised by men in the military service. Boy was I wrong! I have been humbled and learned so much from counseling.
I worried more for my children because they had “lost” everything before and I wasn’t sure how they’d handle it again.
On Sunday, August 26th 2012, I went to bed at midnight and was awoken by the smell of smoke at 2am. When I woke up my living room was on fire. I checked the front door to see if we could exit that way then walked towards the hallway back towards the bedrooms. As I was yelling for my oldest son, I kept coughing and choking on the smoke. It itched and burned really bad. The smoke was so thick I didn’t see my son until he was right in front of me. He ran back to his room to get his little brother out of his toddler bed and carried him out. Thank goodness my eldest daughter was spending the night at her friends house. As we walked down the stairs passed the fire and onto the sidewalk our sliding glass doors fell inward and shattered. As the glass doors fell in the fire rushed throughout the entire place. The fire was now fueled because all doors were open and 1 back bedroom window was cracked.
After the fireman put the fire out (hours later) I thought I could go back in. I didn’t realize the severity of it until the next day. I never went to sleep that night or the next day. It was supposed to be my kids first day back to school. As a single mom it was frustrating to have spent all my money on school clothes, school supplies, and groceries the day before and lose it all the next day.
A lot of people ask, “Didn’t you have insurance?” Yes and No. I had a prompting to get it so I called my car insurance company and asked them if they had rental insurance. They said yes and I added it. The money would be withdrawn the following Friday with my autopay. Because the money had not been withdrawn from my checking yet (or wouldn’t be for 5 more days) I didn’t have (renters) insurance yet according to the insurance company. Some people suggest I sue the people smoking below me that started the fire by accident, the landlord, and the insurance company. I’ve been hit by 5 drunk drivers and have had many opportunities to sue but my heart won’t let me.
If it weren’t for the people in my church I wouldn’t have anything. Thank goodness for good and kind hearted people. I’m eternally grateful for all who helped me and my children. Especially my husband. He wasn’t my husband then but I also didn’t know he would be.
It took having a fire and losing everything for me to realize how much he (my future husband) ment to me. When the fireman asked if I had any family or friends I told them no and had to think who I could call. I didn’t realize they wanted me to find a place to stay because I won’t be going home tonight. I thought of him and searched my neighbors phone book. So, I called him and told him. Thankfully Red Cross came and set us up in a hotel for 3 days. On the 4th day DVS set us up in a nice hotel. I paid for the 5th, 6th, and 7th day at the hotel while I search for available apartments to move to. I took the first one that accepted us. People were donating clothes and stuff like crazy and the piles at the hotel were getting bigger. The best thing to donate is coat hangers. I had to make time as a single mom between working full time, going to college full time, figuring out how to get my kids to school and replace their school supplies/school clothes, while looking for a place to live and going through all the donated bags of clothes. Someone was kind enough to donate a laptop but one day I came home from work and it had been stolen from our hotel room. No one had access to our room but us and the houskeepers.
I tried to go back to our burnt apartment to retrieve some items but the insurance company wouldn’t allow anyone in for a week or 2. By that time when I was able to go through my things I had lost it to the fire, water damage, smoke damage, or mildew. Everything was ruined! I tried to save what I could and wash some items but almost nothing was salvageable. I couldn’t take my food storage because the heat from the fire could’ve caused food poisoning in the cans, I couldn’t take anything plastic (even if it wasn’t burned) because when plastic heats up it releases a poisonous gas. Our clothes smelled of smoke and almost everything was covered in ash or black stuff.
I had the help of some really good people in the church that volunteered to help me go through it all, try to salvage some items, saved furniture and new items for us, fed our family, and even offered us a room to sleep in (The Noah’s and Koepsell’s). I’ll never forget the box of food the primary children had gathered for our family. I can’t express enough in this blog how grateful I am for them and always will be.
This talk by Henry B. Eyring helps me to be grateful for all things at all times.