Letter to My Anxiety: I’ve Met Someone Else. Her Name Is Hope.

Person with facial hair leans out window to look at city, smiling face shown in reflectionDear Anxiety,

Hello, old friend.

I wanted to take some time out and thank you. You have always been a steady voice in my life, ever since I was young.

We began getting closer back then, when I realized you were there to keep me safe.

When things were unknown or unfamiliar, you’ve been there to fill in the gaps and let me know what to expect.

That’s what you’ve done for me—you’ve always kept me comfortable. You make sure I stay within my limits. You remind me when I’m being too loud, too annoying, or just too much for those around me.

Sometimes you remind me of the people who told me the same things when I was younger—especially my mom and dad. Sometimes you even remind me of that teacher in elementary school who liked to sit me in the back of the room with the other kids who didn’t get the best grades.

Because of you, I learned early that if I wasn’t able to do something perfectly, I probably shouldn’t even try it. We’ve talked a lot about how much heartbreak that has saved me over the years.

I just wanted to talk to you about this new friend that I’ve been talking to lately. Maybe see what you think about her?

I met her when I started seeing a counselor. I started counseling because I was having these episodes where I was feeling more exhausted than usual and having trouble—almost every day!—with my marriage and focusing at work. It seemed like I was spinning out of control.

Remember? I was calling you all the time back then—when everything was in shambles and falling apart. I was going to get fired and divorced. I just knew my life was crumbling around me and there wasn’t anything I could do about it.

But then my new friend started telling me that things could be different.

I know. It sounded crazy to me, too, but I knew I had to start somewhere if there was a chance things could get better.

She and I have talked a lot about some of the things that you and I have had endless conversations about over the years. And you know what? I’m surprised, but it’s kind of refreshing sometimes to get a new perspective on things.

We laugh together sometimes. When she and I talk through some of those old conversations, she puts a different spin on them and can even make them sound a little silly.

She says things like, “Is that true? What if the opposite happened?” or “What if you had tried it?” and makes me think through possibilities I hadn’t considered.

She seems to think I have more potential than what we may have originally thought.

I realized the other day when I was talking to her that my parents and those others from my childhood were wrong about a lot of things—and that might mean they were wrong about me, too.

I don’t think you and I had ever thought about it like that.

In fact, I’m starting to realize that you and I hadn’t considered a lot of things.

I’m starting to wonder if our late-night conversations about what might happen tomorrow, next year, or when I’m older are healthy for me.

And I am wondering if it’s helpful when you insert yourself into my conversations with other people.

I wish you could meet my new friend because I think she could do wonders for you, too, but I’m not sure you’d get along. She seems to have a different perspective than you.

I also realized you are probably the only friend that tells me that I’m not good enough for what I have.

And looking back at some of the missed opportunities and regrets in my life, it’s interesting to consider whether everyone else might have some valid points.

Maybe I am smarter than I thought. Maybe I’m kinder. I know I try to be.

Maybe it’s not the end of the world to try something and fail.

My new friend tells me that I’m capable, and that I should try new things because the old things haven’t been working very well.

She says even though it’s comfortable to stick with what I know, there is potential to do more with my life. Sometimes it makes me excited—in a really good way.

And I can’t remember the last time I felt so excited.

Before I met her, I couldn’t remember the last time I even dreamed of a happy ending. It somehow feels possible now.

I know we’ve always talked about how I am a “realist,” but looking back and seeing that some of the things we talked about didn’t happen, how realistic have I been?

I wish you could meet my new friend because I think she could do wonders for you, too, but I’m not sure you’d get along. She seems to have a different perspective than you.

Her name is Hope. And I think she’s going to be around more often, for a long time.

Sincerely,

The new me

© Copyright 2018 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Brooke Williams, MA, LPC, therapist in Summerville, South Carolina

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • DD

    DD

    May 18th, 2018 at 7:30 AM

    I *LOVED* this. Anxiety is like that old friend that never has anything nice to say and you just keep them around because you have gotten used to their company. Anxiety is that toxic friend who NEEDS TO GO!
    I must say it’s also refreshing to see a therapist be so candid about their own anxiety. They’re human too.

  • Catherine

    Catherine

    May 22nd, 2018 at 1:17 PM

    Great piece. Thank you! I love the style of it.

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