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A Letter to Myself, After Using Anxiety to Protect Us

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Dearest Self,

We are human. We will make mistakes. We will doubt ourselves. But it’s what we do with these things that matters more.

My sweet Self, believe me when I say your doubts are not the truth. They are just our fears you have made manifest in order to protect us from loss. I can understand that. We’ve been hit so hard, been betrayed so horribly, failed miserably and struggled for so long against ourselves. We try to work with a mind that doesn’t work quite the way it should, riding the roller coaster of ups and downs of bipolar disorder type 2, the constant dread of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and many, many traumas. They are the stories you created from whispering fear of the worst things that could happen, because, sometimes, the very worst did happen. I understand all of this. I have been right here with you, but, these stories? They are not the truth. They may be formed by valid emotions in our reality. But, dear Self, they are stories only, just stories, and not the truth. They are not our truth.

Self, do we want to live a small life, a “safe” life? Do we want to be the constant supplicant, depending on external validation rather than trusting our own power? Do we want to continue to be afraid to step out of our own door? Do we want to be too timid to extend our arms, reaching for what we want? Or do we want to be more? I think we both know the answers to those questions.

Thank you for the doubts you have made and for trying to protect us, but, we cannot let them, these stories, rule us. We cannot be so afraid of failure that failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Laugh at the pun of self-fulfilling, my Self. But, most importantly, see that we can be self-fulfilling. We don’t really need anyone else to create the biggest, brightest lives we can possibly have, the life we have always wanted. We have survived over and over things that should have ended us, body, mind and soul. Do not think me a fool. Bad things will come again. Pain will always be a part of our lives. Blows too fast for us to avoid and too strong for us to stand against will knock us down. But we are fighters, you and I, and these things are the bitter contrast that makes life sweeter. You don’t have to be so scared all the time. The world will be cruel and ugly and horrible. It will contain failure. It will contain sorrow and pain. But, it will also be wondrous and kind and soul-achingly beautiful. It will contain success. It will contain joy and pleasure. For us, my dear Self. It is all there for us, if only we are brave enough to embrace it.

Trust me to guide us down our twisting path. Trust me to be quick and brave and clever enough to get us out of the quicksand we may fall into. Trust me when I say, “feel the pain, feel the sorrow, feel the hopelessness, feel the anxiety.” For only by accepting these things, only by embracing ourselves with compassion and unconditional love as perfectly imperfect, and by allowing the storm to have its rage, will it all pass. Trust that, as Maya Angelou so eloquently said, “still I rise.” Still we rise, despite it all. Trust me and trust yourself. Trust that I trust you. We have not been able to trust ourselves for so long. It is time to embrace each other again. It is time for us to be on the same side again. It is time to be whole again.

It will not be easy, my sweetest Self. We will have to work together every day to build us up again. We will have to work every day to face and overcome the challenges we will have again. We will have to work every day to allow the river of our being to flow again. We will have to work every day to look in the mirror and see our strength, our power and our beauty, instead of searching out the flaws and weaknesses. But, you will not be alone. I am with you — every day, I am with you — and we will work together.

Vincent van Gogh, who painted those wonderful sunflowers we love and that brilliant starry night, once said, “If you hear a voice within you say ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” We will fight back against that voice. We will silence it. We be the artists of our life again. We will be vibrant, brilliant and visceral. We have to be ourselves again. We will give ourselves permission to be ourselves again. We can do it, you and I. We will paint with the broadest strokes, with the most audacious colors and with the most passionate soul. We will, again and again and again. No matter what may come.


Your Self.

Photo by Yulia Pantiukhina on Unsplash

Originally published: November 1, 2019
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