It is Christmas morning. All of the stores are closed. The family is waking up and expecting Christmas to be here. Extended family will be coming by later. There are no presents under the tree, no tree, and nothing to wrap. The refrigerator is empty and I have no way to buy any groceries for Christmas dinner. The grocery stores are closed. Once again, I have waited too long and the results are complete devastation……
I sit up straight in bed. I’m sweating and realize that it was only a dream. “Why?” I ask myself “do I continually have this dream??” I’ve never come close to blowing off Christmas or any other holiday quite to this degree of failure. Certainly, there have been those that have been better than others but they have always met at least minimum standards.
I’m walking the halls at the Middle School (somewhere). I don’t know where my locker is and I have no idea what my schedule is or where to find it. I have no idea which of these classrooms holds the classes that I am supposed to be attending. I wander aimlessly feeling my frustration level rise to almost unhealthy levels……My eyes fly open. I realize I’m dreaming again. This is crazy! I always loved school and although day 1 could be a bit stressful, I always seemed to manage.
These 2 nightmares are reoccurring in my life. I have come to realize that their true meaning points to having important tasks to complete and feeling the stress of them not going as I would like. It might be a deadline that I am nervous about meeting or a self-expectation I have that I have no idea how to complete. I fall asleep to get a bit of a respite and then I dream the nightmare(s) again.
I used to say that I performed best under stress and often I did. I would click into a kind of extreme calmness and handle the task at hand. Those around me were always amazed at my ability to remain calm and to handle difficult situations- and so was I. It was only after the stress ended that I fell apart and wanted to hide under the covers.
Now, as I grow older, it doesn’t matter if it’s good stress or bad stress. I feel overwhelmed, unable to think and often get the feeling of “I don’t know what to do next”. Lately, when this happens, a calm comes over me. I ask the questions “Is anyone bleeding?” or “Is anyone dead?” If the answer to both of these questions is no, I choose to handle the situation to the best of my ability and move on. If there is simply too much to do, I ask for help, let some of the expectations go, or simply make do with the best effort I can put forward.
I no longer go to sleep for fear it will be Christmas Morning with no presents or the 1stday of school with no schedule and a lost locker. Strange thing stress. I think I’ll let it go at least for now.