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An open letter to my anxiety…

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Dear Anxiety,

I know I don’t normally speak directly to you.  I normally spend my time trying to avoid you, push you down, or numb you out.  But it’s time we had a little heart to heart.

Sometimes I hate you. I think about how much you run my life and how powerless I feel around you.  You make me feel small. You make me feel weak. You make me feel crazy.

You make me worry about things I have no control over. You make me obsess about getting everything right.  I have yelled at my husband and flipped off random drivers when you bubbled out.

To avoid feeling you, I push myself too hard, work too long, and put my needs on the back burner.  I deplete my body with caffeine, alcohol and bad food just to keep you at bay. I have done everything I can to tell you that I don’t want you around.

But you aren’t getting the message.

The more I avoid you and push you away, the more powerful you seem. In fact, my whole life has turned into an f-ed up game of hide and seek.  And you always find me.

I’m done hiding. Let’s talk. Let me understand you. Let me know who you are and what you need from me.  Tell me where you came from and where you get your power.

Why must I get everything right? What would happen if I didn’t? Who would care? And why should I care what they think?

I heard an amazing quote last night. I can’t remember the exact language, but the meaning was this: When you start to care more about what you think, you start to care less about what others think. Cheryl Richardson, author of Radical Self Care, said this in a lecture about guilt and shame. 

Anxiety, I want to care more about what I think.  In reality, neither of us have any idea what others think.  We just tell each other stories about what other people think and then react to them. That’s just silly.

Tell me why I have to worry. Isn’t worrying just picturing the worst-case scenario? What good does that do us? Does that make us any more safe by trying to prepare for the worst? If the worst happens, it’s still going to suck.

Why am I spending the present worrying about things that will probably never happen? How many things have we worried about that never happened? How much time did we waste?

I know you are trying to protect me. I know that you are trying to make me safe. But all you are doing is hurting me.  You are making me less strong, less able to cope, and less resilient to stress.

I know you are scared. I feel you, like a small child afraid of the dark. We can work together. I don’t have to run from you. I can comfort you. I can make us feel safe. I can turn our attention away from the worst-case scenario and clear these thoughts.  I can breathe to calm this body.

Let’s do this together, hand in hand.  I can accept you. You are a part of me. I can forgive you for all of the pain you have caused me. Maybe I can’t do it today. But I’m open to the possibility that one day, I will be able to forgive you. I will be able to forgive myself.

But let’s just start slow, where we are right now. Let’s just try to be friends. Let’s just try to coexist, one step at a time, one breath at a time, one thought at a time.

Sincerely,

Lauren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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