A Love Letter to Anxiety 

Dear Anxiety, 

Should I name you something? Maybe it would make you a little less intimidating and a little more human. I used to picture you as a fuzzy black shapeless entity that I couldn’t quite make sense of, clinging to my body and pulling me back from moving forward. I’m seeing you more clearly now, though. I’m getting to know your idiosyncrasies day by day. You seem to know me very well. You know my weaknesses, my doubts, my fears and always the perfect time to strike. 

I should hate you, but I don’t. I fear you. I resent you sometimes. I regret you. But I don’t hate you. 

You see, you’ve taught me so much. Because of you, I truly know myself. I feel liberated because I can finally accept myself for who I really am. I am flawed. I make mistakes. Not everyone likes me. When I mess up, you’re there to remind me. You make me feel it. I cannot escape you. Your grip is too strong, your voice too loud inside my head. In those moments, I have to confront my reality. Instead of running away, blocking out all negative thoughts, you force me to accept. Of course, many of the thoughts you throw my way are completely irrational. That’s kinda your modus operandi, isn’t it? There was a time when I ran from them and from you. I denied negativity, I denied sadness, I denied you. I pretended that I was okay, all of the time. Of course, you lurked in the background, waiting for me to let my carefully constructed guard down. And when I did, boy did you hit me with everything you had. It was terrible; the worst experience of my life.  But at least it was real. It was my truth.  And you gave that to me, so I owe you thanks. Thank you for finally forcing me to confront and accept the person I really am: imperfect but actually quite resilient.  

You are now an integral part of my person, a part of me that I will never fully be free from. You will be there, for better or worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, ’till death do us part. I could try to pretend that you won’t be, but ignoring you seems to make you stronger, angrier and more determined. So I will embrace you. If we work together, we might just be able to live together in relative harmony. 
So what do I see you as now? Well, now I see you as a cat. You play with me sometimes, but most of the time you get bored and fall asleep. And then I get to feed you fried chicken, so everyone’s happy. 

I’m sure I’ll see you soon. I’ll be ready.

Love, 

Jane x

The Perfect Response to Hatred

The following has been written by Antoine Leiris, a man whose wife died during the Paris attacks. I have taken the text from here. It is an incredibly moving and brave piece, and well worth a read.

On Friday night you stole away the life of an exceptional being, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you will not have my hatred. I do not know who you are and I don’t want to know, you are dead souls.

If the God for whom you kill so blindly made us in His image, each bullet in my wife’s body would have been a wound in His heart.

We are only two, my son and I, but we are more powerful than all the world’s armies… every day of his life this little boy will insult you with his happiness and freedom.

Therefore I will not give you the gift of hating you. You have obviously sought it but responding to hatred with anger would be to give in to the same ignorance that that has made you what you are. You want me to be afraid, to cast a mistrustful eye on my fellow citizens, to sacrifice my freedom for security. Lost. Same player, same game.

I saw her this morning. Finally, after nights and days of waiting. She was just as beautiful as she was when she left on Friday evening, as beautiful as when I fell madly in love with her more than 12 years ago.

Of course I’m devasted with grief, I will give you that tiny victory, but this will be a short-term grief. I know that she will join us every day and that we will find each other again in a paradise of free souls which you will never have access to.

We are only two, my son and I, but we are more powerful than all the world’s armies. In any case, I have no more time to waste on you, I need to get back to Melvil who is waking up from his afternoon nap. He’s just 17 months old; he’ll eat his snack like every day, and then we’re going to play like we do every day; and every day of his life this little boy will insult you with his happiness and freedom. Because you don’t have his hatred either.

– ANTOINE LEIRIS

Dear Future Me

Dear future me,

Have you seen the movie Tractor? No, me neither, I’ve only seen the trailer. Har har, get it? You always say open with a joke sooo…

Moving swiftly on. I decided to write this because I wrote a letter to fifteen year old me who obviously can’t read what I wrote because she’s in some 2002 time warp wearing combat pants and drinking vanilla Coke, but you can. You, future Jane, or present Jane by the time you read this (my braaaaain), you can read exactly what I wrote to you and heed my advice. Just because I’m younger than you doesn’t mean it’s going to be bad advice. I just want you to still have fun, even if you probably can’t drink tequila and put your foot behind your head anymore.
I reeeally hope you’re thinking:

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Source

I hope that everything is going well for you. If you are healthy, have a home, still have Jack, have a son or daughter and a steady job then I want you to know that you are very very lucky. Because you’re me, you probably complain, even when things are going well. But listen- you need to quit it and appreciate what you have. Don’t make me jump into my flux capacitor and come get you.

Right now, I’m happy…but there is so much more that I want. And I am hoping that you have some of those things. Of course, you’re not going to have them all. I doubt you’re best friends with Jennifer Lawrence, living in Aruba and hosting Letterman. But if you are happy, healthy and secure… Well, that’s all we’ve ever hoped for, right?

I want you to know that this Jane loves to laugh. She loves Jack very much. She loves the countryside and the sound of laughter. Her family are everything to her. She helps young minds open up to the world around them. If, for any reason, something has made you forget all of this, then I want to remind you: your life has meaning. You were happy. You can be happy again.

If your life is going dandy and you know it, then swell. It would be really great if you could master time-travel and come back to give me some dough. Come on Jane, I’m waiting. No? fine, I’m so putting you in a home.

Let me just end by reminding you that you once touched Nick Carter as he was thrusting in leather and covered in sweat, just incase you forgot. Who am I kidding, of course you didn’t forget. I just wanted to revisit that memory. *goes to dark part of mind*

Also, I’m dying my hair already because I’ve spotted a grey hair or two. If you could keep that up so I don’t resemble a Shakespearean hag, that’d be great.

I’m going to go do handstands while I still can, don’t be too jealous. You’re still a total catch.

Yours (literally),

Past Jane (creepy smile) x

A LETTER TO MY FIFTEEN YEAR OLD SELF

Hey fifteen year old Jane,

It’s twenty six year old Jane. There’s probably lots of things you’d like to know, like which Backstreet Boy you’re gonna marry or how the career of that cute girl from ‘The Parent Trap’ is going. It’s bad news on both counts. Don’t sweat though, I’m not writing this from the maximum security wing of some futuristic women’s prison. That’s all I’ll say about where I am, I remember how much you like surprises.

So you know the way you’re the bane of your teachers’ existence with your constant chatter and witticisms?(In your head, anyway.) Well, GUESS WHAT? You are now the recipient of this behaviour; you decide (I think you’ll be around seventeen) that it would be just WONDERFUL to become a teacher. And you know what? It is wonderful. You’ll have a pretty stressful few years in your career (you’ll be thrown in to teaching a maths class and you know how crap you are at maths), but you’ll love it and you’ll even get gifts from your students from time to time (as well as grief, but it’s all part of the job). Remember this one tip: teenagers will work insanely hard for rewards of a chocular variety.

Also, stop messing with your hair. At the moment, it’s a very bright blond and you look RIDICULOUS. I’m sorry, but have some sense woman/girl. You’ll get to eighteen and you’ll realise that being a brunette suits you so much more. And also, the bleach will actually result in some of your hair falling out when you’re seventeen. I’m sorry, ok? You were going through your obsession with The Simple Life and it got out of hand. But right now, I have very long and thick hair (I don’t really care anymore but I know you’ll appreciate this). Also, an amazing invention known as hair straighteners will mean you won’t look like Melanie Griffiths anymore #winning (sorry, a little futuristic humour for you there).

Now, you’re gonna need to sit down for this one (maybe on that really cool bean bag that you end up losing in college). By twenty six you still won’t be married. Or have kids. Or a very stable job. But hear me out.

Soon enough, you’re going to meet the person that will change your life. You won’t know it at first but he will make you happier than playing snake (which I know is totally your thing right now). He’s handsome, funny and intelligent and you’ll even start a little pet family together (really, you could open a petting farm). I won’t tell you anything else because the journey you’re about to take is the best thing that will ever happen to you so just act surprised when you meet him, okay?

You will think about marriage and babies for a long time, but then you’ll realise that you’re happy just being in the moment and going with the flow. The moment is pretty great.

You have some tough times ahead. You know Mam and Dad? Yeah, they split up. And you know the way you faint sometimes? That’s not low blood sugar like you self diagnosed (thank you, dial-up Google), it’s epilepsy (but you kinda kick its ass so don’t worry). You’ll be in a car accident. But look, you’re still here. You’re alive, you’re relatively healthy, your family are safe and you currently have a cat sitting on your shoulder…how cool is that? (Just to clarify, you have the cat there by choice, you’re not in some dingy alley way somewhere surrounded by stray felines.)

The friends you have now? You keep lots of them, but you also lose a few. One of your male friends will profess his undying love for you and you’ll both laugh about it years later. Try to guess which one.

You’re gonna end up moving around a bit, but strangely, you’ll enjoy it. You’ll end up far away from home (and so will your brother, who you’ll miss terribly) but you’ll be okay. In fact, you’ll thrive. You gain far more confidence in your early twenties and you will learn to be more assertive. It won’t be an easy process but you become a person that you finally feel proud to be and because I know how low your self-esteem is right now, that’s pretty amazing.

Your sister (who you’re probably squabbling with right now, HEY PUT HER HANSON CD DOWN) will become one of your best friends. I know you don’t believe me now, but no one will ever make you feel as loved and protected as she does.

I want to say one last thing: you’re a teenager which means you’re…well, you’re kind of a bitch sometimes. Stop pouting at me, we both know you’re not scary. When you get to my age, you’re going to really regret how shabbily you’re treating Dad. I know you find him annoying and embarrassing now, but you’ll look back and realise that he loved you and nurtured you in the most selfless of ways and you were just a big bag of nasty hormones. Go hug him right now.

So Jane, twenty six year old you is not that much different to fifteen year old you. You still watch Kenan and Kel. You still wear jeans (they don’t really go out of fashion but they become a lot tighter) and you still love spaghetti like Miley Cyrus loves twerking (I just realised that pop culture reference makes zero sense to you, just take my word for it). Things have changed though. You’re living with a real life boy. You have a career. You drive (you just got a speeding ticket tut tut) and you haven’t seriously injured anyone yet. All in all, you’re happy.

Just please, please don’t get in anymore photos where you’re wearing dungarees. They will come back to haunt you in ways you can’t imagine. And stop over-plucking your eyebrows, you look like a meth addict.

P.S. No, they don’t have flying cars yet but they do have something called ‘Facebook’ which is just as creepy as it sounds.

If you could write to your fifteen year old self, what would you say?