This letter was a therapy activity given to a young woman who suffers with anxiety. The assignment was to write a letter to her anxiety.
She did such an introspective and well-written job with it that I asked for her permission to share it with you so that you could look at your relationship with your anxiety in a new way. Let us know your thoughts about this piece…
A letter to my anxiety:
I’m sitting in the sun, on the beach, on the most beautiful Easter Sunday morning. I just biked 3 miles, did yoga and jumped in the ocean. This morning couldn’t have started better. And right now, it feels like you’re about as far away as you can be.
But that’s the thing I hate most about you. On a good day – when all is right in my world, when I’m at peace and I believe that my worries are being handled by God – you just pop up out of nowhere. Uninvited. Unannounced.
You take a seat next to me when I least expect it. You wrap an arm around me and into my chest and squeeze. It feels like you are strangling me with fear, tangling me up in irrational, circular thoughts. It’s a physical sensation of dread – it’s poisonous worry. My adrenaline – or something – leaves me ready to fight at your command.
I really crave the freedom of life without you – but I don’t know if we’re meant to exist apart from one another. You know me so well. You’re always just one thought away. You watch and wait for the perfect moment of vulnerability…when my defenses are down…to jump back into my mind.
When I wake up, you’re right there. You’re the first person to greet me in the morning. There are so many, too many, days when you drive my waking thoughts. You send me running out of bed to my to-do list, or you paralyze me with dread. At 3:45am, you remind me of the uselessness of working for $9 an hour. You remind me that I’m not where I should be. You tell me I’m stuck. Poor. Hopeless. Lost. That I’m not the person I used to be or dream of becoming.
When I hang up the phone, when I think of home, when I think of my failures (real or perceived), or the future, or my age, or my church, or my friends, you are right there. You make me feel like I am the exception for hope and healing.
You drive me and motivate me and paralyze me – and this is not fair. Because this body & this mind don’t belong to you. They’re mine. And I need you to take a step back and let me control what’s happening inside of it.
I want more than anything to live free from you. To have a quiet mind. A body that’s relaxed – not constantly prepared to run and fight. I want to be able to live in community. To stop hiding from them in fear.
That’s the power you have that I fear the most. You hold me back from being known. I feel you even when I’m around the people who love me and accept me. You tell me I’m too awkward, too weird, to belong with them. That I don’t belong and I’m not wanted there. But maybe it’s because you’re jealous. These could be the people who could light the way for me to walk away from your grip on me.
I wish I knew how to leave you. Because I don’t need to live in fear. I shouldn’t let you break down my body. You shouldn’t have control over my thoughts or my actions. You shouldn’t make me feel fragile. You shouldn’t suck up my strength. You shouldn’t make me second guess every word that comes out of my mouth.
And as much as I hate you, sometimes I wonder if you’re an injured part of who I am instead of something foreign that’s attacking me from the outside. Maybe you’re just a part of myself that needs to be healed. Who hurt you? Who made you this way? Who ignored your voice? What did you need? If I could help you heal – if that would mean freedom for me – I would show compassion to you, my greatest enemy. I would listen.
I would do whatever it took to live at peace with you.