• Brandi Nikkale

Why I Left California



I am safe.


This has quickly become one of my most used affirmations.


I have never needed this affirmation before. I have always taken my feelings of safety and security for granted. I had a lot of challenges in life but feeling like I was in danger was not one of them. After all, I have always lived a pretty low risk lifestyle.


In the summer of 2021, a switch flipped in my life and I suddenly felt unsafe in the world.


I began experiencing frequent panic attacks, night terrors, nighttime anxiety and general feelings of nervousness.


There was a point where I could not even sleep in my room for fear of my safety.


I wasn’t involved with the mafia or anything else that would have triggered this fear.


I simply felt afraid.


After multiple talks with my therapist, talks with myself and examining of my life, I realized that a lot of this fear was rooted in my aloneness.


I don’t mean romantic aloneness....I was actually dating pretty regularly at the time.


I mean aloneness when it comes to being close to people who know you, care about you and will be there should you be in need.


Dating can be fickle. I was not relying on any of the men that I dated to be my support system. It’s just the reality of dating. Most men that you date will care about you as long as they are smitten with you.


I was in California with no close friends, no family, no support system.


Thoughts that I frequently had:

  • If I disappear, how would anyone know?

  • If I am in an urgent situation, who can be there quickly?

  • I am alone and anyone that decided to observe me could easily figure this out.

  • If I want to do something, I have no choice but to do it alone.

  • I am clearly unloved or else I would have people.

  • I must be unlovable or else I would have people to spend time with.

I am aware that most of this thinking is illogical but understand that my emotions and my fear were running the show at this time. I was living in a very fearful mental space.


Everything in my life appeared amazing and don’t get me wrong, the majority of the time I was doing well. I was not depressed. I was simply very fearful and would suffer from these waves of panic that stemmed from my aloneness. I did not even feel lonely most of the time but I could not shake the fact that no matter what I felt, I was alone and my physical and emotional state could no longer tolerate that.


And so as much as I love California, it was time for me to move on.



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I needed to be closer to people that I know and love and people who can and will show up for me when I need it. I am a low maintenance person in my familial relationships and friendships but there is so much value in knowing that if you do need them.


I have been in the metro Atlanta area for exactly 3 months as of today and my life has changed drastically in that short amount of time.

  1. I feel more social. When I was in California, I found myself fighting against the urge to be a hermit. I am naturally an introvert but it was extreme. I was feeling stress when I had to leave the house for anything. Since moving here, I regularly DESIRE social interaction. I go to dinner and happy hour and events and on dates. I feel really good. I feel more like my balanced self.

  2. I am literally lighter. I am not doing much different than what I have done in the past in regards to physical fitness and yet, I have lost over 25 pounds in 3 months. My body was able to release a lot of the fear and stress that I was holding on to and with that went a significant amount of weight. Please note that I am not saying that weight is equal to stress. It isn’t always but situationally, it can be.

  3. I sleep better. Yes, I have a new comfortable mattress but it’s more than that lol! I am rested when I wake up in the morning even when I did not get the appropriate amout of sleep. Again, when you feel safe and secure, you experience the peace you need to truly rest.

  4. I have become a night owl. I am naturally a morning person but given my new work schedule and school schedule (I still work and attend school on California time), I am staying up so late at night lately. And you know what? I have no regrets. It is a change for me but I find myself being productive and as long as that is happening, I m happy. Also, I don't feel so drawn to sleep because of sadness. I get a sufficient amount of sleep but I am not sleeping my days away anymore.

  5. I smile more. You don’t realize how much joy has been stolen from you until you get it back. I am more pleasant to be around these days, I smile more, I laugh louder. 90% of the time, I feel really good. A year ago, it was more like 70%.

When you look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Safety is the most important human need after our physiological needs. If there are any areas of your life where you feel unsafe, I pray that you do WHATEVER it takes to find that safety. That’s what I did.


XOXO,

Brandi Nikkale

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