CW: There are actual pictures of damage from the fire, both my own house and the house next door in this blog post past the read more. Also, talk of PTSD and of course Trauma.
Things that cause us trauma can happen at any time, we don’t really know when they are going to hit. And while it might have not been sexual trauma, it can still affect how we process and find pleasure. However taking back that pleasure afterward, while it can be a long journey, is also in our power to do so.
One year ago, I woke up to the house next door on fire. I was the first awake in my house. I was the one to alert the whole of my family we needed to get out. The whole experience of the day is both burned1 into my memory and hazy at the same time. Everything afterward for months was hard, my room didn’t feel right. Windows had been knocked out, now covered with plywood. The house next door, or at least what still stood there, creaked in the wind. If the sun hit it or it rained, the smell of the fire caught my senses, and the memories came back. Isolation was one of my only calms. Even now surrounded by my chosen family, I find it happening. Though I am also finding myself shedding it slowly again reading Angel’s post really helped.
During that time, I had toys I needed to review. I used them, but looking back it was forced. I wasn’t able to take pleasure in masturbation for a while. It didn’t feel safe to let myself feel that way. The whole ordeal had shaken me to the core. I was a few months later officially diagnosed with PTSD and Anxiety. While it was not the fire that was the sole cause. It was all my mental state could bare to handle without any outside help.
Taking Back My Space
My room was a mess. Things were pushed into places so the room could be dried. Our carpet had been almost soaked through. One of our doors busted through because it was painted shut. Everything was out of place and it felt wrong. It no longer felt like the room I had only moved into months ago. Space my girlfriend and I had set up to share.
It took weeks to slowly get it cleaned up. Being up there just brought all the feelings back. Looking at the windows I could see out of I saw the house that could have been ours. Every day, however, I would do something. Even if it was just organizing one drawer or box.
It also took waiting, waiting for the house next door to be finally torn down. It took them almost 4 months before it happened. When the house was finally down. The lingering scent of burnt wood finally stopped drifting through the cracks in the plywood on my windows. I could sleep through the night not startled awake by the worry something was wrong again. It was a hard 4 months of hearing it creak in the wind. But when it was down I could sleep again.
It took about 5 months. But the room was my space again.
Taking Back My Sound
Having no doors and plywood on the windows. I was suddenly worried about being heard again. Not by my partners or housemates. But by The World™ outside my broken windows.
That was a mental hurdle to get over. One the husk of a house next door was knocked down. The house next to it was empty from the damage it took. It took remembering that there wasn’t anyone else to hear me. No neighbor I may run into. Because they were gone.2 So I would just test my limits. See what I could do when I was letting myself relax. Having other background sounds helped like my air conditioner or a fan in the one window we did have. It gave me just a little bit of illusion.
Taking back my sounds, took time. Little by little day by day. Opening up more.
Taking back my Time
I had to find the time again for pleasure. It stressed me out, trying to not fall behind. But it wasn’t helping me because the stress just added to the anxiety. So instead, I chose to focus on myself and make my own pleasure my priority. No testing toys. No writing notes. Just took whatever thing I fancied using that day. Enjoying my body and healing.
Getting back to actually enjoying myself took time. Everyone heals at their own rate. It took me almost 7 months. Where others might take less or more. And that is okay. The way you heal is valid, no matter how it happens. Be it a few months or never-ending, your healing takes work, as I learned from Megan Ashley.
One Year Later
This year, I have learned so much after the fire. I have learned that I have people who care about me. I have learned that I can do so much more than I ever expected of myself. We are grateful to have not lost anything more than a few things to what damage we took. We still don’t have windows as of the date of this post, but we are moving shortly so it won’t be much of an issue soon.
It highlighted to me that sometimes our pleasure can be taken from us by forces that aren’t inherently sexual. Learning was rough, and at times it was hard to get through. It was a lot of inner self-care and learning to adapt to my situation until it was right again. But I did it.