Suddenly, fire blazed across the sky. Every living thing looked up in astonishment; what could possibly burn in the sky, where there was nothing but the occasional winged thing floating on currents of air?
But there it was, for a blazing, breathtaking moment – a huge glowing THING with a long fiery tail that lit up the world. And then …
An asteroid struck the Earth, offshore from a place which would be known a mere 66 million years later as Chicxulub, Mexico. (What is it with that part of the world, throwing in those awkward Xs in the middle of things?? Aztecs and Incans, no doubt, having a laff riot with the language.)
The Chixulub impactor was the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs. There was chaos and madness and fire at the impact site, and then there was dust and darkness and death – but geologically speaking, that trauma lasted barely any time at all.
And then in the 1970s or 80s, some guy discovered the impact crater off the coast of Chicxulub, and it was a HUNDRED MILES WIDE – so big that even if it hadn’t been underwater, it would have been hard to grasp.
(There’s a kind of glass that’s forged in impossible conditions – nuclear reactors and asteroid strikes are two of them. That’s how they identified the impact crater.)
Wait, you say – thanks for the ancient history lesson, but isn’t this a health and fitness blog? Shut up; I’m getting to it.
Maybe 20 or 30 years ago, it was discovered that the Chicxulub impactor crater was just the INNER ring of this massive, dino-killing asteroid. The outer ring?
The Gulf of Mexico.
That’s why it’s shaped in that arc, from the tip of Florida and down through Mexico. Look at the map; looks like a big, round bite’s been taken out of the area, huh? Yep. That’s the one what got the dinosaurs.
So – here’s the lesson:
When trauma happens (be it asteroid strike or the death of a husband/mother/dog or the continuing strain of a pandemic), there is chaos and confusion at first and then you adapt – but it can take distance and time and perspective to recognize just how hugely that impact has altered your landscape.
July 1st is the first anniversary of my mother’s death (followed three weeks later by the day I had to have my dog put to sleep), and all that comes hot on the heels of my husband’s death three years ago. And a pandemic. And political chaos. I’m kind of losing my mind.
What does that look like? Well – I’m sort of mean. I’m suffering from depression. I’m over-reacting to things that shouldn’t be messing with me. I’m not sleeping well. I’m eating poorly. I’m not drinking enough water.
So I had a Zoom appointment with Regina, the remarkably astute biofeedback counselor at Body Dynamics. (A virtual meeting meant no electrodes glued to my scalp – huge bonus!) And Regina gave me the words that created a handle on my situation:
“Your emotional reactivity is causing a loss of higher-order skills.”
YES! I shouted – that’s EXACTLY right! Let me write that down. Now: what do I do about it?
She gave me two tools. First, adjust my expectations of what I could accomplish, and how badly I felt about myself if I did not succeed. “It’s not permission to give up. But if you have ice cream for dinner, just get over it and try again tomorrow.”
And next, she advised that I create a “connection mechanism” with my mother. Write about her, listen to her music, do something she liked to do. “In the Jewish religion,” said Regina, “a tombstone isn’t put up until a year after the death. Everyone goes back to the cemetery and has a second memorial, and it tends to come at a time when people really need that.”
Oh, Jeezum – that’s an awesome idea!
So yesterday I invited my sisters over, and the family of my mother’s best friend. We sat on the screened porch at socially-distanced remove and had lunch. We talked about impact craters, and how it’s so hard to see what’s making you crazy until you stand back and look from a distance. And it helped.
I’m not over my “emotional reactivity” yet; I have a few big anniversaries (or deathiversaries) coming up that I’ve got to get past. But I feel like it’s been valuable to recognize just how far the impact craters extend from the traumas of my recent life.
And maybe you’re dealing with impact craters of your own. I hope that recognizing them helps you deal with the aftermath. Remember: It’s not SUCH a bad thing that all the T. rexes and velociraptors got the boot!
Peace to you – and to me. Onward.
Boom. Impact crater, creating new landscapes. Like the Man in the Moon – impact craters so huge you don’t even recognize them. Jeesh. Any parallels in YOUR life, maybe?? Take care of your mental health (she said, trying not to sound patronizing) – because without that, your physical health ain’t no thing at all.