To the Editor: Emotional help after quake

I found quake emotional trauma help at the local Animal Rescue Center. Maybe you can too.

The two earthquakes of July 4 and 5, 6.4 and 7.1, shook me up in unexpected ways, repressing parts of my emotions, unknowingly, until detected by lack of emotive response to seeing a bolide at dawn on Aug. 10. This alerted me to “something is wrong.”

I found myself filled with a whole quagmire of unarticulated feelings, grieving as one of them, from loss of innocence of what it really means to live in earthquake country. This involves the four stages of grief — shock, anger, negotiation and acceptance.

Talking to small groups of friends and random strangers about the quakes has helped somewhat. I asked doctors and nurses at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital and Southern Sierra Medical Clinic if there was any therapy group that meets to talk about such quake trauma’s delayed aftereffects. They all said they had not heard of any.

I’m not sure how personally helpful it might be to yack more about it. Medi-Yoga is not for me, nor counseling by telephone, as available, especially arranged for Ridgecrest since they said they had so many requests, through California Earthquake Resources, Coping (800-221-0945).

What I feel I need to get at is in the nonverbal, subconscious mind, at a level of feelings, emotions. That could be done with one-on-one counseling with a therapist, if I wanted that indirect talk approach. My Zazen or Tai Chi aren’t helping enough. I was lucky to happen upon a wonderful alternative, a simple way to get at a comforting and consoling solution.

While I am age 78, the young boy in me (after Eric Berne’s scheme of Parent-Adult-Child psyche, in his Transactional Analysis Psychology) is broken-hearted, angry, scared and feels betrayed.

I’ve lived in Ridgecrest almost 20 years and had felt only one small quake here about 12 years ago, and had not faced the sobering reality that we live in earthquake country. I didn’t take seriously the British university student doing an earthquake preparedness survey in front of the old Walmart about eight years ago.

Recently a friend asked me to donate her bag of new, extra dog toys to the Ridgecrest Animal Shelter (on San Bernardino/County Line Road, about half a mile south of Ridgecrest Boulevard). I did, along with my own leftover cat toys (he died two years ago).

While I was there, a white, long-haired cat named Spade “adopted” me as I sat on the vestibule’s wooden bench, insisting on lying in my lap and climbing up on my left shoulder. A healing wonder. I returned the next week with more donations and he did the same thing! A little bit of furry heaven. The healing power of purr.

Can cats sense PTSD, depression or anxiety? The therapeutic effect worked wonders, and was exactly the nonverbal, physical contact of touch that works best for my emotional healing and wellbeing (per Chapman’s book, “The Five Love Languages”). He taught me the simple lesson of feline affection as the antidote at my time of need of quake-induced trauma emotional recovery. I still have a long way to go, and will visit Spade at least weekly. He’s a fixed three-year-old, born there.

The manager there said I could come any time to visit, and even be put in a cat room to engage with lots of cats! I suppose they need the socializing in order to be better adoption candidates.

I’m trying to regain the gallantry of a shattered soul. I found a kind of therapy that is helping me recover and better cope. Maybe it could help others out there still frightened by the disconcerting nature of quake trauma aftereffects, while not fully articulating that trauma by remaining at the nonverbal emotional level of non awareness.

The shelter’s hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There are plenty of dogs there too (200 extra, I heard, from the quakes’ devastating and frightening effects), for those canine-inclined.

Those barking mutts crave visitors! You’ll be surprised how much they appreciate your attentions — the love will be reciprocal ... bi-directional, mutual heart healing. Enjoy.

Maybe bring children too — ask the staff if it’s appropriate, depending on age and maturity.

Steve Canada

Story First Published: 2019-10-04