The first question people people ask me now that I live in Florida is, Where are you from? The second question, after they hear I'm from the Big Easy is, Were you there for the storm?
Yes, we were there. We had moved back to New Orleans in December of 2004, ready to start our life back there after having our first baby. It was our second move back home after living in Southern California and South Carolina.
The question used to hit me squarely in the chest, poking at a pain that I was trying to forget. We thought we had reached a pinnacle, a point where we would be safe, sound, and secure in our hometown. Katrina proved otherwise. I was pregnant with our second baby and our first was 14 months old when the storm hit.
I won't review every detail of the storm, I'll just say that what we thought was going to happen after it hit and what actually happened was grueling to watch. I was fortunate enough to have my sister in Baton Rouge, and after it was apparent it wasn't going to get better for quite some time, we took off. I was on the road for 6 weeks, hopping between Orlando, Montgomery, AL, and Nashville, TN.
Our friends were amazing, helpful, and I was able to find a midwife back home, once we were allowed back in the city. Nothing looked the same. The peace that we found right after the storm blew through was nowhere to be found. My husband had gone back to the city to work two days after the storm, and had seen much more than I did.
Everyone was scattered due to the flooding. Living arrangements were complicated but we all did the best we could with the space we had. Our side of town didn't have as much damage as the side that flooded due to the levee and canal breaches, and the mess was everywhere. It took us a good year to get back on our feet and back to normal.
Ten years later, the city is completely different. The funds that Katrina brought in enabled the city to expand and grow. People started to move in instead of away, and brought with them a breath of fresh air. The city looks better now than it ever has.
So the question for me became, how to deprogram the button? We all have these buttons, soft spaces in our hearts or minds that hold old hurts and are pressed easily by a casual comment or question. People died in the storm. My husband was not the only person who witnessed the dead on street corners. My father's mental status seriously declined after the storm. My family took time to rebuild.
And we moved away, again. First to Iowa, then Orlando. Memories of Katrina were pressing and didn't leave easily. As a practitioner, I work with the energies of trauma and have techniques I use for trauma release. The next question was, would they work for me?
I have gradually released trauma from my system, using Reiki and Healing Touch every day. The anniversary still brings up old memories, but they are not as stark and cutting as they were before. When someone presses the button now, it doesn't hurt quite so much.
The third question was, does time help? Like any other trauma, the pain lessens but doesn't completely leave. It becomes fainter and less pressing, and we pick up the pieces and go on with our lives. I am happy to say that the more we focus on our buttons and what originally caused them to connect, the simpler it becomes to release and let go.
I tell my clients that one of the best ways toward healing is through. Not around, not away from, not avoidant, but through the pain. Once we recognize and validate pain, we can release it. One of my mantras is, it's usually much simpler than it looks in the energy world.
The way through is the path to healing.
Image is the author's, Aug 2005