I have lived eternities in my head, and it all started when I was a little boy.
I would spend hours in my head. I would make myself sick with worry.
I would plan for every possible scenario. I would try to be “perfect.”
I would do these things.
Now I know that it was anxiety causing my overthinking.
But I didn’t know it then.
My anxiety narrowed my vision — it made me feel like I was the only one in the whole world going through it.
Now that I am grown, I know that what’s most personal is the most universal — and that I wasn’t alone.
It doesn’t make any sense, but it’s true. We are connected by our secrets.
Shame grows when we don’t share them. Vulnerability sets us free.
But I was too anxious and naive to know it then.
And now that I know it, I need to write my 10-year-old anxious self a letter so that we can both accept it and let it go.
Dad still calls me that from time to time. It’s not as annoying you think it is. 20 years of calling me the same name!
Remember that. Those little things. It means he loves you. It’s the little things that you will miss when they are gone.
First, the most important one.
And you are lovable just the way you are. Don’t ever forget that.
It’s called anxiety.
And lots of people have it.
I know, that made me feel good hearing that, too.
But you are not your thoughts.
I know, I know. It doesn’t make much sense, especially when they feel like they are part of you.
Yes, even the worst kinds of thoughts, even those.
You don’t have to tell me what they are. I know.
And you want to know something? Other people have them too, even those.
Unfortunately, it can happen when you have an active mind.
I know it’s hard to fall asleep. And I know that when you do, you wake up from bad dreams. And that you realize you are dreaming and you need to wake yourself up to escape what’s chasing you. They do go away, so be brave for a little longer.
The things you do and the words you say will make you into the person you one day become. I am who I am now thanks to you.
And you’re still a part of me.
It’s amazing, really.
Thanks, buddy boy. I’m glad I wrote you this letter.
Originally published at byrslf.co