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.