A Love Letter to Anxiety

Dear Anxiety,

We go way back. I didn’t know your name for a long time and I don’t remember exactly when we met, but I do recall when I was five or six, having that chronic fear of being lost, being locked in rooms or being locked out of the house. You stole a lot of fun and joy out of my childhood.

I got to know you better when I was twelve years old and became convinced that my chronic headaches had to mean I had a brain tumor. I still didn’t know your name, so every time you showed up, I just assumed you were a symptom of whatever was killing me. Finally, I found out that I needed glasses, and when my vision was corrected my headaches went away. But you stuck around in the form of that crippling fear of death, which took years to ease off.

And then, December 2014. That was your big breakout, wasn’t it? I was sitting on my bed and thought I was going insane from the all the thoughts and fears spinning around in my head. I felt so physically ill, I wondered if I’d caught a stomach bug. I grieved a relationship that wasn’t even over yet because you had me so, so, scared. I fought with you for six more months, and finally, I was able to get past you and make the decision I needed. With nothing I could love and lose to torment me over, you faded into the shadows.

But you’re still here. You got a good grip on my heart that night in 2014, and now it’s easier for you to sneak back up on me. (Kind of like heat exhaustion.) You keep flaring up whenever I have to do something new, whenever I fly on a plane, whenever things get too crazy at work, whenever I’m alone for too long, whenever I drink too much caffeine, whenever I perceive something wrong with someone, and whenever I care about something a lot. Could you stop doing that?

At the end of the day, you aren’t me. I believed that lie for a long time. But you’re not. You’re something that happens to me. I know you come from some weird survival instinct, this need in me to protect myself from getting hurt, to weigh the risk vs. reward before doing anything. I’m learning that it’s not my job to protect myself from everything because that’s impossible. At some point, after I’ve thought things through and done my best, I have to trust God enough to let my future be uncertain. 

You and I are probably going to spend the rest of my life together in some capacity. And that’s okay. I won’t live my life afraid of you. That being said, you better believe I’m going to work every single day to be stronger and smarter than you. My life is so much better when you’re in your proper place: keeping me from jumping off of bridges and away from possibly-rabid cats.

I’m choosing not to be afraid of you. Even when you jump me and pin me to the floor, sitting on top of my chest and asking me a million questions, I’m trying to choose not to be afraid of you. You drive me straight into the Garden with my God who was so anxious, He was sweating blood. He knows you better than I do, and you didn’t stop Him. You won’t stop me, either. 

As I wrote in my journal back on January 21st: “This is just anxiety. It’s just something that is happening to you. It will go away, and when it does, you will still be here. Don’t be afraid.”

Love,

Clare

Blogmas 2017 – Day 20/31 – Story Birds

Originally posted here 3/23/17. Why I write.

Some Thoughts – 3/23/17

“Is this it? Are you really going to be a writer?”

I was in my car, on my way to the coffee shop (to write), and as I was going over the train tracks, I asked myself this question. It popped into my head, kind of from nowhere, but it generally spawned from the following self-reflection: “Here I am, driving 20 minutes to go sit in a coffee shop and write when I could have sat at home to write, because I seem to focus on writing better at the coffee shop than at home,” 

So the thought came chasing me down, as it has done before, but never this strongly. “Is this really it? Is this what you’re going to do with your life?”

I am a class-A self-sabotager, so my brain was trying to trick me down all the usual rabbit-holes: calling me out on my flakiness, how I was super into writing as a kid/teenager but I let it drop for three years, how I’m lazy and scared of hard work, how I always aim low in life, my fear that I can’t actually support myself as a fiction writer/playwright, etc., etc.

But I stuffed all that down for a moment, and I thought, “Dang, I want to try. I want to put in all the work and see where it goes,”

As I walked into the coffee shop, carrying my new bag that I bought specifically for the purpose of hauling my writing stuff (to the coffee shop), I greeted the barista who recognizes me because I’m kind of a regular. I’m the girl who comes in and always sits by the window and always gets a small cappuccino. Honestly, I found myself hoping she’d ask me what I do so I could tell her, “Oh, I’m kind of trying to become a freelance fiction writer,” She didn’t.

Kind of? Trying? As I look at how I talk to myself/about myself as a writer, I realize how serious this self-sabotaging thing is. I am becoming a freelance fiction writer. I think I might already be there. Just because I’m not making money yet doesn’t mean I’m not freelancing.

Every time I say, “It’s worth driving 20 minutes so I have better focus and can get more outlining and writing done today,” Every time I say, “Sorry, guys, not tonight, I haven’t written yet today,” Every time I’m reading a book and I highlight the things that stand out to me, things I want to emulate. Every time I pin and (more importantly) read articles on improving one’s writing on Pinterest.

This feels especially important to me right now, at this moment in 2017, when I’m 22 and still living in my parents’ house and trying to save up enough money to move back to a city I loved living in. I have spent so much of the last five-six years of my life lost and insecure. I spent most of those years caught up in a dead-end relationship and a vision of myself as a pathetic, stupid, little girl, which has kept me underachieving and unhappy.

I can feel how, over the last eight months, my mindset has shifted. Back in August, I made this post about the fact that I had officially decided I wanted to start taking my writing seriously. I guess this is a bit of a followup post. I keep praying about my writing and I feel like God is cheering me on, or at maybe doing the God-equivalent of Shia LeBeouf saying “Don’t let your dreams be dreams!!”

I want to. I want to fight for these stories. I want to fight to get them into the world, like beautiful little birds who will land on other people’s windowsills and become part of their lives. I. Love. Telling. Stories. And I love sharing my stories with people. So, please, don’t let me get away with talking like a flaky waffle. I’m already doing the work I need to do to be successful as a writer; I’m writing. Every day. I just need to be brave and keep at it.

So, yes. This is it. I’m a writer, and I’m going to be a writer. As long as that’s where I’m called, that’s where I’ll run. Hopefully, I can send you some story birds soon.

Thank you for reading this. God bless,

Clare

 

My first story bird. 

Check out the rest of Blogmas 2017