words matter

I’ve only had a handful of nightmares in my 23 years so far. I’m not a wild dreamer in the literal meaning – in fact, I rarely dream at night. If I do have a dream, it’s usually ridiculous.

Example: I had several strange dreams before my wedding. They were all the same. I went to pick up my wedding dress, but the seamstress dyed it red and turned it into a pantsuit.

Anyway.

Of the bad dreams I’ve had, there’s one I remember vividly.  I was back in high school with old friends – people who had a huge impact on my life while I was growing up – and we were hiking through the woods behind the football field of my old high school. Laughing, talking, reminiscing.

After a while, I realized we were hiking a mountain. I didn’t notice how high we were until we finally came to a clearing. When we reached the top, the wind was blowing so hard none of us could stand. We could only crawl. My hands were slippery.

I then realized the surface of the mountain was white and smooth. The mountain was also hollow: there was a huge hole in the center that was a dark drop thousands of feet down. My hands still kept slipping.

I soon realized the mountain was a tooth.

If I stood up, I would either slide down the cavity to my imminent death, or fall off the side of the mountain. I watched my friends fall away one by one.

Out of nowhere, a helicopter came and the faceless pilot threw a rope ladder down to me. My only way to survive was to jump off the side of the mountain and grab the ropes.

I pulled up as fast as I could and threw myself off the mountain with my arms reaching above my head, searching for the ropes, trying to beat the wind.

I woke up before I knew if I made it or not. I was panicking. Sweating, crying, shaking. I was flooded with emotions: fear, anguish, dread, even adrenaline. It took several hours for my heart rate to come down.

(Fun fact: I despise teeth-related things.)

Why would I share this creepy dream with you? Because I think it has tremendous meaning. I am certainly not one to live by dream interpretation. But I do think there’s validity in what our nightmares can teach us.

I once heard that the presence of teeth in dreams was a symbol for words. Have you ever dreamed about your teeth falling out? Perhaps they can be symbolic of the words you say, meant to say, or wish you hadn’t said.

In my case, I dreamed about teeth as a mountain. An obstacle.

Words can be obstacles.

I don’t know about you, but I often struggle with finding the right words to say–especially in a lose-lose situation. (Either fall inside the cavity or fall off the mountain). In my dream, the only way to live was a tremendous leap of faith toward the ladder.

Why did I have an anxiety dream about words?

Because words matter to me.

Words can make my spirit soar and cut me to the bone.

Examples:

The awesome gentleman who styles my hair told me once that I have a Downton Abbey face. He said I have timeless beauty. That will forever go down as one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me — and I don’t think he was intending to make my day, but he definitely did.

When I was in high school, I was at a store with a guy I liked for a long time. We were exchanging a shirt he purchased earlier. The cashier gave him his change back — some bills and small change. He said, “The change is for your girl — but she’s worth more than that.”

The guy I liked replied, “Nah, she’s not worth much more.” The cashier smiled at me apologetically.

(I knew how to pick them in 11th grade, didn’t I?)

Now, don’t get me wrong, I know there’s a margin of error for word interpretation. I don’t consider myself a highly sensitive person. I don’t go around looking for ways to be offended by “hey, can you pass the ketchup.”

But I do fear that in this age of social media, our words become more and more empty. It’s so easy to berate and bully others behind the screen of a smart phone.

How are you using your words?

Do you find yourself defending things you say?

This was posted on one of my favorite websites – Humans of New York – and I think this gentleman sums up my thoughts perfectly:

“I’m learning to be more careful with my words. Words that seem meaningless at the time can end up having a lot of power. Seeds that you didn’t even intend to plant can fall off you and start growing in people.”

2 thoughts on “words matter

  1. I think that’s quite true, though not many people realise it. Words have power, whether we choose to see it or not, so we should be careful how we use them.

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