Aftershocks

I’ve said in previous blogs about the earthquakes we went through in Christchurch and Canterbury and New Zealand that, on the last anniversary (or maybe the one before) that I was “over it”. And it did feel that way until a few days ago.

The earthquake near Mexico City on 19 September 2017, and the images coming out of Mexico, have seemingly triggered anxiety about earthquakes. The last few days haven’t been horrible but they haven’t been pleasant either anxiety-wise.

For example, yesterday was my Mom’s birthday in the States. We are normally there for her birthday, but due to the universe seemingly conspiring against us this year, we didn’t make it to the States this year. I luckily had the day off so I called her, and we got to speak.

Mid-conversation, there was a loud rumbling, and my stomach dropped and I felt my entire body course with that burning you get when your nerves fire. Instinctively, I braced myself, but no shaking happened. My logical mind wrestled control from my primitive brain and deduced it was a truck driving by. But the damage was done; I was a nervous wreck. I’m only hoping my Mom didn’t hear that on the other end of the phone line.

Last night before bed, and after I went to bed, I felt as if I was ready to bolt at any second. The physical burning sensation wasn’t present, but my body was full of something pressing me to be “ready”. In the end, I managed to calm myself down by thinking pleasant thoughts.

I’ve had panic attacks before, and this wasn’t one of them (thank God for that). But I tend to get like this before we have an earthquake — either when a big one is coming in the middle of a rich aftershock sequence or after we haven’t had a quake for a long while, no matter what the size of the quake coming — and I’m not sure why, but I am. I have had several times where I’ve said to Noel or whoever that I felt a quake was coming in the next few days, and more often than not, I am right. Once it hits, that tension releases, and I feel fine again. The spring has uncoiled.

(As a side note, several people can tell you that rising unease made me call the 22 February 2011 quake. At Robyn Francis’s leaving party at work at Unit 7, I vividly recall telling the students and staff that a big quake was coming and to be prepared. Me and my big mouth.)

There are other times, as I said before, where I am wrong. Leading up to an anniversary of the 22 February 2011 quake, one or two of the years I have felt something bad coming. A foreboding, if you will. This is that same feeling. So maybe it isn’t anything but a feeling being triggered by what’s going on in Mexico, especially since those quakes are somewhat similar to ours.

They had a major quake (8.1) which caused damage and deaths, but it wasn’t until a smaller, closer quake (if you can say 7.1 is “smaller”, really, in terms of damage) that killed more people and probably caused more damage. The same thing happened here: the 7.1 quake on 4 September 2010 had no direct casualties, but the 6.3 on 22 February 2011 was very much closer to Christchurch and very much deadlier: 185 deaths. Our city was brought to its knees.

Maybe it’s because I tend to be a sympathetic person, and that combined with my experiences with earthquakes has provoked these feelings. I don’t know.

I do feel a bit better today (although, as I type this, someone upstairs dropped something, and I nearly tore myself inside out), and I acknowledge I can’t change any future earthquakes from happening. But maybe I wasn’t as “over” the quakes we went through as I thought I was, and maybe I never will be. That’s okay too, as long as I don’t let it rule (and therefore potentially ruin) my life.

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