The Sunflower Project
Helping survivors turn towards the sun

Letters to Survivors: A Blog

Prescribed Burn: Preventing the Forest Fire

Back home in California, we have these things called prescribed burns. It's really dry out there (we're in a drought), so the brush in the forest gets dangerously dry and is at risk for catching fire easily. This is no good because people live in the forest! And fires are generally bad... So they prescribe burns, meaning they purposefully start a fire and then contain it in order to prevent a potentially deathly forest fire.

When I was in high school, after my abusive relationship was over and I was out of his reach yet still somehow under his control, my friends did not react terribly well. They ultimately turned their backs to me, after continuously expressing that I should just be happy and not be depressed, and just forget all about it. They didn't believe a word I said when I confided in them about the terrors that was our relationship, and the continuing terror he wrecked for almost a year after we broke up. I went to them for help, and they said no.

This could have been the end of my crusade for help, but somehow I managed to continuously ask for support from others. I knew that was the only way I would get through what was happening, so I kept prescribing my burns and asking for help, even though it hurt like crazy, so as to prevent the forest fire I saw as a possible future. 

This is what Prescribed Burn is all about. While we know it's going to be rough, it's going to hurt like hell, and oh god is it going to be hard, we must continue to ask for help until we get it, and then we still have to ask for help because we will never be fully "healed". It's scary and too often it fails. Giving help is hard, needing it is harder, and asking for it is the hardest of them all. Especially when people tell you no over and over and over again.

To all the survivors out there: somebody will be willing to give you help - the right kind of help. And one day, you'll do the same for someone else. Don't stop asking. Prescribe a burn, prevent a forest fire.



Leah Zeiger