The Fires of San Diego, Symbolism, Sadness

The fires here in San Diego are encroaching upon the place I’ve been temporarily staying, which is in Escondido. I’m staying with my mom in La Jolla for now and will lose some things I care about, but it could certainly be worse. I’m waiting to see if it gets an evacuation order. I won’t go back to get anything, too scary and it’s a 40 minute drive and I didn’t bring too much anyway as it was only for 2 months, but it’s hard to concentrate on work when I know the fire is coming so close to that area.

Of course, while from the selfish standpoint I’m worried about my stuff, I’m also sad and worried for all the people, animals, and all life that is affected by these fires. Wishing all well. Oddly, I often think of people who have been burned and the symbolism of their healing postures.

When in unbearable pain, either physical or psychological, our instinct is to curl up into a fetal position. It’s a very primitive action. With burns, unfortunately, that fetal position of comfort is the most damaging, because of the risk of contractures. Their body may heal into that position and then the person can’t stretch anything. They end up in an "airplane" position or what I think of as a crucifix position thanks to my Catholic school background. It’s the exact opposite of the comfort they crave. And yet the open position, the lengthening, the bearing of the body and exposure, is where the true healing takes place, the person has the best chance of functional recovery.

In my journey through a path of psychological healing from chronic trauma (a story coming one of these days), I always think and use this analogy to help me. That while my instinct is to hide, to be fetal, to contort into a closed position that feels most comforting and safe, it’s actually the most damaging. That the healing takes place when I am open, when I expose myself (um, mentally, lol), when I allow myself to symbolically open and be seen.

There hasn’t been many injuries related to these fires, as of yet, and I’ve actually never experienced fires. I wasn’t living here at the time of the San Diego Wildfires of 2007. Yet for years I’ve thought of the symbolism of healing from fires.

I pray and hope you pray (in whatever form that takes), that those in the path of danger, or those who have been, are able to handle their circumstances with grace and peace.

May 15, 2014 | Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: 1

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