• Jaime Pollard-Smith

Drum Roll Please: Yes, I've Changed

“People look at you strange, say you changed. Like you worked that hard to stay the same.” Jay-Z

This one time at a drum journey…


If I didn’t lose you with that woo woo opener, stay with me. I promise there is a point.


I was laying on a bed of yoga bolsters and cushions covered in bright blankets. A lavender scented tie-dye pillow covered my eyes to block out the light. Musicians choreographed the soundscape, wandering between us with chimes and Tibetan sound bowls. I could feel the pulse of the drums radiating through my arms, chest, legs and entire body. The rhythm became hypnotic inducing complete immersion in the present moment.


It was about 60 minutes into the 90 minute experience when I had a vivid epiphany and transformative vision. My recurring childhood nightmare was me as a young, scared girl running through the forest. The tree limbs were arms all trying to grab me. It was terrifying and woke me in a panicked sweat for years. But here in this room filled with soothing sounds and energy, I returned to this nightmare. I was in it as clear as a movie scene, with one major difference.


I stopped running.


I looked at the trees and realized they were indeed reaching out to me, but it was to protect me. They wanted to stop me because I was going the wrong way! That scared little girl was running full speed towards the outer darkness. When she stopped and looked behind her, she realized the light was at her back the whole time. It was her true self. She didn’t need to run and nobody was trying to trap or hurt her.


Change the way you think and you will change the way you live.


I have spent a long time unpacking that dream. Sometimes I laugh that the silly girl spent so many years scared of nothing, but other times this same realization breaks my heart. I could write for hours about the context of the forest, or societal restraints, or rigid belief structures that might have contributed to my early nightmares. A dream analyst could have a field day with it, but it has helped to dismantle some of the self-made fears and unrealistic expectations I have used to keep running all these years.


Turning around to return to myself, literally, meant a huge sigh of relief. It meant I was fine, not broken. It was a homecoming.


However, everyone in my life has not been so thrilled by the turnaround. I frequently hear, “You’ve changed” in a non-flattering tone— a derogatory statement meant to belittle my personal growth. Just last week when someone was saying this to me, I threw my hands in the air and said, “GREAT! I’m so glad. I hope I always do.” It can be exasperating to constantly hear my hard work criticized, even if I know that what Susie says about Sally says more about Susie than it does about Sally (BAM! Say that five times fast).


I am working to trust my knowing. Learning to pay attention and honor my intuition is a new one for me. When you spend most of your life silencing and running from yourself, it takes discipline and courage to turn around. I have identified one major obstacle that trips me up regularly. I want everyone else to change too.


Yes, I have changed, and with new awareness and perspective, I tend to look back at anyone who didn’t come along and feel extreme disappointment. If I am working to be my best self and see others stuck in the same pattern, it makes me sad. And I have to stop reaching back to try and pull everyone along. Stop. Drop. Serenity Prayer. Oh, the things I cannot change. Stay in your lane, Jaime. I cannot keep my hula hoop up when I’m reaching out to hold up someone else’s. That’s all on me. Accepting that it’s possible to outgrow places or relationships doesn’t steal their valuable role in my story; they just might not be in the next chapter.


I trip up a lot — even now that I am walking with greater attention instead of running in full on escape mode. Yet, learning to identify these weaknesses has given me the power to change them.


I should also note that oftentimes “you’ve changed” is a disgruntled response from people impacted when I started establishing healthy boundaries in my life. The ones who use this term tend to be the ones who benefitted the most by my lack of boundaries (to be continued in a separate post).


What we don’t change, we choose. So for now I can proudly say, I hear ya, Jay-Z, yes, we have changed. Damn straight and thanks for noticing.


Me in front of a gorgeous mural at the Metropolitan in Charlotte, NC. It reads: "May all your vibes say I got this." Photo cred my BFF and editor, RBF.
"I got this!"

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