Nightmares and Change

Since about the age of fourteen, I’ve had this reoccurring nightmare where I’m standing alone on an abandoned road, and I turn and suddenly I’m face to face with someone I care about and I find myself asking the question, “Am I enough?” They whisper, they always whisper, “no.” The no seems to go on forever until it is ringing in my ears and I can feel it in every fiber of my being, “NO.” I haven’t had that dream for a few months, but, for some reason, I had it last night. Except for this time, it was someone new whispering that dreaded word. Usually, I can predict which of the three or four people that are typically standing there with me, but not last night. Last night I turned and found myself facing this new person and I could feel my whole body clench with terror. My brain started panicking, not you, not you, not you. 

I’m not entirely sure what triggered that nightmare, but I’m sure it has something to do with the stress of school and the fact that things are changing. If there is one thing in this world that I don’t know how to deal with, its change. Especially abrupt change. Ever since I was little, I didn’t handle sudden change well. Even if I was the one making things change. I don’t know how to handle that sudden shift in dynamics that happens when things change.

Now, some might say that the reason I don’t like abrupt change is that I take my time in everything. I’ve never been one to rush into anything. I will always be the one to ponder everything that goes into change. I’ll look at it from every angle, analyze every possible outcome, and consider every possible obstacle that might show up. I do this with everything, even if I know that the change is going to happen, no matter what I do or, if it’s my choice whether or not that change will happen and I know what my decision will be. If it’s of any significance to me, I won’t rush into anything or make a defining decision at one precise moment.

The only change I can handle anywhere near well is a slow change. The kind of change where it might be missed in the day to day if one doesn’t pay close attention. Like how people will go from an acquaintance to your best friend. In most cases, you can’t really give a specific moment that they shifted from someone you barely knew to the person you tell everything to. The shift in dynamics is slow and subtle, yet you can’t deny the stark contrast from when you first met too now.

In either form of change, my anxiety likes to run rampant. Anxiety causes me to question everything I do. Sometimes, this can be a good thing, like when I go to say a sarcastic comment in a completely inappropriate setting. Thanks to anxiety I don’t say the comment. But more often than not, anxiety has me questioning every interaction with the people in my life- especially the newer people. Maybe I’m too much or maybe I’m not enough. Maybe I said the wrong thing, maybe I didn’t say enough. My brain screams that I’m going to mess everything up, even though it has no proof or logical reason. The worst part is that I know it’s unreasonable. I know it doesn’t make any sense. But that doesn’t stop my chest from threatening to collapse in on itself or my brain from screaming to every atom in my being, run.

But I refuse to let it stop me from changing. My anxiety will not stop me from going to new places, whether it be geographically, mentally, or emotionally. I will get there, you just have to bear with me. There are days where I will stumble over the words in my mouth and the feelings in my chest, but bear with me, I’ll get there eventually. Somedays I will be open-minded and free and somedays I will be trapped in the cage of my brain, but bear with me, I’ll make it there eventually. One day, you will get tired of waiting for me to say that I’m ready to go to this new destination and ask me if I will ever be ready to go and I will look at you in confusion because I’m already there, I just walked slowly. Bear with me, I will get there eventually.

Change is inevitable. Change is unstoppable. Change is terrifying. Change is beautiful. Embrace it… even if you fear it. Change is how we grow. Its how we fail and how we succeed. Change brings new people and gets rid of old ones. It hurts and it is rarely easy. But one day, we will look back on the changes that have come and gone through our lives and the pain and the loss, the risks that proved wrong, and the mistakes will still be there, but maybe, just maybe, we will also see the things that made it worth it.

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Friends, Anxiety, and Life

We all have that one friend. The one you meet and you’re like “Alright, this person is pretty cool.” Then three months later they’re your best friend. They become that person you can’t remember NOT being friends with, even though you probably spent a good portion of your life not knowing of their existence. They somehow go from being that person you met last night to the person you Snapchat all the stupid stuff that happens in your life. All within no time at all. And occasionally, you just stop and think “Where did they even come from?”

Now, if you are anything like me there are pros and cons to this friend. On one hand, they are literally one of your best friends. Like right up there with your brother and your dog. They are on your short list of things you go to when you are trying to be thankful, even if everything seems to be falling apart.

*Squints eyes*  Okay God. I am choosing to be thankful. Umm… My dogs? And… And… my family. Umm… Ummm… OH! I am thankful for that person. Yeah, they’re cool. I like them. Thanks for them.

On the other hand, they are your anxiety’s favorite topic. I mean, you haven’t known this person THAT long. Do you really know them that well?  I mean, sure, they are your best friend, but are you theirs? Do they even really like you? Sure, they have said that you’re one of their best friends, but their other best friends have known them longer and probably better. And of course, the closer you get, the louder these questions become.

Yep, we can probably all relate to this at some point. What’s funny is that it doesn’t have a single thing to do with the other person. It all comes down to the fact that we are terrified that other people, especially people we are close to, will see us the way we see us. Something that we all struggle with is looking in the mirror and not seeing all the ways we aren’t perfect. All the reasons why we keep stumbling, why we didn’t get that job, why we didn’t get a better grade, why there isn’t enough money in the bank. We tend to look at ourselves and see all the reasons why we are failing. Why we aren’t good enough. Why we aren’t what we wish we were.

It’s at this point that I would like to point out that never, ever, ever, in my whole life, have I ever been obsessed with a character in a book, movie, or t.v. show that was perfect. Or anywhere near perfect. Go on Tumblr and you will find that I am not alone in this. Because any story with a perfect character, who always knows what to do or say, is nothing. There is no story to tell. We love characters with flaws, weaknesses, quirks, and epic fail moments. So the big question is, why are you hating yourself for what you love in others?

Which brings us back to that one friend we all have. You have not known them as long as their other best friends. You, probably, do not know them in the same way as their other best friends. Does that make you any less of a friend? No. You are not their other best friends. And that’s okay. You aren’t friends because you are like someone else. You’re friends because your weirdness and their weirdness collides into an even more epic weirdness. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else. You aren’t them. And they aren’t you. Don’t compete with people who aren’t even in the same race as you.

This applies, not just to friendships, but to all aspects of your life. Your life will never be like someone else’s. You are going to succeed. You are going to have adventures. You are going to live a fantastic life. You are also going to fail. You are going to have hurricanes wreck your world. And sometimes, your life is going to suck. You are a mess. A beautifully fabulous, disastrous, mess. Don’t worry. We all are. Embrace it.

 

Breathe

*inhale*

When you feel overwhelmed. Your plate is full. So full that things keep slipping. And when you try to pick them back everything else starts to fall too. You end up in this state of limbo, just barely managing to keep it all together. Just surviving.

*exhale*

Finally, you say no to something. You prioritize. Until you only have the essentials. Only what you really need and want. And finally, you can breathe. Finally, you can take five minutes. Finally, you can live without feeling like you are dying.

*inhale*

Then someone says something. Someone reminds you that you  had to say no. Someone tells you it’s not that bad. That you are just being a coward.

*exhale*

You smile. Laugh. Take it like a joke. And they chuckle and walk away. Not seeing the self-doubt leak into your head. Don’t see the pain ooze from your heart. Don’t see how you stop breathing.

*hold*

What do you do then? What happens when someone steals your air? What happens when you are drowning in your own head?

*hold*

In the garden, when all of the world was on His shoulders, Jesus did not act like He was all good. Like He was excited to die. In fact, He told the disciples, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death.” The Bible says He became “grieved and distressed”. God does not expect you to be perfect. To never struggle. To never fear. He did not come for perfect people.

“It is not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick. Likewise I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners.” Mark 2:17

God does not want perfection. He wants humanity. He wants you to go to Him with your quirks and weirdness. With all the cracks in your skin. All the bruises on your heart and all the doubts in your head. He wants to share in the despair and the joy. You don’t have to be happy all the time for Him to love you. He knows that happiness is fleeting. God loves your heart that bleeds and your mind that drowns itself.

And best of all, He understands. He’s been there. You can take it to Him and He won’t tell you to suck it up. Won’t tell you to get over it. Won’t belittle it. Won’t trivialize you. Instead, He brings you an oxygen tank. He sits with you until you can breathe again. He turns on a light and helps you up. Then He takes your hand as you start walking again. Step by step. Breathe by breathe.

*inhale*