Can you hear me?

As a 16 year old, I have some things that I worry about. School, my future, my friendships, my family. Hell, I have a boyfriend (I know, go Sapphire!!) who I can’t tell anyone about because of how people would react. My eldest brother has a girlfriend (I think) and my mum and stepdad were okay with that… My older brother doesn’t go anywhere except college, so I don’t know if anyone expects him to ever get into a relationship… And then there’s my younger brothers. We don’t really like to think about them getting into relationships. 

Anyway, back to worries. This school year, I got a new Music teacher, who I didn’t really want to get along with. However, we get on very well, and I often talk to him about my worries. Because he listens. And, yes, I suppose he has to listen, given his position as my teacher, but he advises as well, rather than sweeping me under the rug abound pretending all is okay. 

Recently, I opened up to my boyfriend (we’ll call him Patrick) about some recurring nightmares, and, bless him, he tries to help me, he really does, but he doesn’t know how he can help. So he suggested talking to my Music teacher (we’ll call him my Music teacher, because reasons). And so, last Friday, I spoke to him. The conversation went (roughly) as follows:

Me- Sir, I have a problem, but I don’t know if I can talk to you about it…

Sir- If you want to talk about anything, you can do, but only if you want to. 

Me- Okay. I’ll have to think if I can tell you…

Sir- Okay. I’ll be shuffling pieces of paper, so speak when you’re ready.

*long silence, occasionally broken by papers shuffling*

Me- I’m worried you’ll ridicule me…

Sir- Well, that depends on what it is.

Me- … Right… I’ve been- Right, so, for a while- Right, well, I’ve kinda been having some… recurring nightmares… And they affect my sleeping and therefore my school life? (At this point I went red)

Sir- Right… You say they’re affecting your school life, but is it your school life that’s affecting your dreams? 

Me- Sir. They’ve been going on for 8 years. I was very much stress – free in Year 3.

Sir- Ah. Well then. Well, is there something you’ve been prioritising since then that’s been- (I didn’t hear the rest, as I knew he was clutching at straws)

Me- Sir, if I knew what’s causing them, I’d be able to start stopping them.

Sir- True, and maybe that’s why you should try counselling, like *other teacher* suggested. Maybe talking about them will make them stop, because you’re acknowledging them.

Me- But Sir, it doesn’t work.

Sir- Ah, but counselling is like riding a bike. Go in thinking “this will work”, and it’ll work. Think negatively, and it won’t work.

Me- …

Sir- Okay. It’s like a music performance. Go in thinking “this will be great”, and it will be. Think negatively, and it won’t go well.

Me- … (I’d recently fucked up a music performance)

Sir- Right, counselling is like drugs. (My thought- “why the hell would this example apply to me?”) Are you familiar with the placebo effect?

Me- Ah, yeah… (at least he didn’t think I was a junkie)

Sir- Right, so, even if it doesn’t work, if you go in thinking it’s a miracle cure for your bad dreams, it will work. (Then he started a ramble about cancer drugs, which I chose to ignore, because I didn’t want to hear about cancer)
Yeah, so that happened. I might go to counselling. But I’m skeptical about it. It’s never worked for me in the past. Maybe in a few years when I’m out of high school and I won’t feel judged for it.

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