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

I’m like a bird

Today a bizarre thing happened. My cat was sitting on the window sill of my bedroom window when all of a sudden she reached out and nabbed a bird in mid flight. This is strange because she’s a house cat and doesn’t really display this predatory instinct very often, but of course, she is a cat and it’s just natural.

Anyway, the poor bird was chirping like crazy so I hopped out of bed attempting to save its life. I chased my cat downstairs and she managed to run faster than I’ve ever seen her go, with the unfortunate bird still chirping hysterically in her mouth. She headed straight for the space under my sink where she knew I wouldn’t be able to reach her. Then she did a strange thing: she left the bird there and trotted up back to bed.

I wasn’t sure if the bird was still alive. I hadn’t seen it but I was assuming it must be pretty small because my cat is tiny and she had carried it with ease. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t even nearly fit into the space and it wasn’t like I could gently coax a terrified bird out of there.

So I waited. Sure enough, I heard the flustered fluttering and chirping from underneath the space after some time. Except now, the bird had moved further away and escape was looking a lot less likely.

I was worried. I love animals and I feel an indescribable empathy for them. I really felt for this little bird. I imagined him to be terrified and lonely and it really didn’t help that there was a pair of small bird constantly chirping outside my window. I imagined they were his little bird family, tirelessly looking for their lost friend. I know this seems silly, but I wanted to make sure I could help him to fly out the door safely.

Hours later, as I sat at my kitchen table drinking coffee, I heard the self-conscious flutter of wings. I looked over to the corner of the room where there was a mop and bucket and there he was, eyeing my with a fear I had never thought a bird would be able to express. I was so happy I jumped up a little too energetically. I had to calm myself.

“Hey little dude. Hey. You did it! Now we just got to get you outside,” I said as gently and soothingly as I could. “Jack! Jack, he’s out! He’s out!” I called up to Jack, who had been just as concerned as I was.

I treaded towards the bird as softly as I could but he was startled and began flying around the room in a frenzy.

“No, no, calm! Calm! But look at you, you’re okay!” I was smiling, surprised that he wasn’t injured.

And then it happened. I suppose I should have seen it coming. He went straight for the sliding door and THUD, he banged into it with such a force that I knew straight away that his bid for freedom was over. His life was over.

“No! No!” I screeched, as I bent down to pick his tiny little body up. He was still alive, or just about. I watched him squirm and try to make a sound. I saw pain in his eyes and I watched the life drain from him. I know to some it was “just a bird” and one I didn’t know, but it really upset me.

When Jack came down, expecting to see me jubilant, he instead saw me in tears.

“Hey, hey. What’s wrong?” I pointed to the bird in my palm, and he shook his head. “Oh dear.”

I was a sobbing mess. I could register the confusion on Jack’s face, possibly thinking my reaction was a little OTT.

Yes, I was crying because there was a tiny dead bird in my hand. But there was more to it than that. This bird had survived an attack by a much larger and stronger predator. It has gotten lost in a veritable maze in complete darkness and had managed to find its way out. And then it got killed by a freakin’ door. As I held the tiny lifeless body in my palm, I felt such a strong connection with it. This might sound completely crazy, but I felt like the bird’s struggle was my struggle.

Think about it. You work really really hard. You overcome all the worst obstacles and you take all the crap life throws at you, and then just as you are about to make it, to fly free, a door closes in your face. That’s how I have been feeling lately. It happened to the bird and it has happened to me on more occasions than I care to remember.

There was a silence for some time. Jack, sensing there was more to my tears than the bird, asked me what was wrong. I looked up at him and sadly shook my head. “Life is cruel. That’s what’s wrong. He nearly made it but he didn’t. He saw outside but he didn’t get there.” There was a silence for some time, as I looked at the bird’s broken body. I handed it to Jack to take outside and composed myself.

I don’t really know why I shared this story with you all. It’s not uplifting or funny. On my part, it was probably a total over reaction to something that happens all the time. I guess it just got me thinking about how sometimes you get through the door, and sometimes you don’t. And it reminded me of the struggles I have gone through, as well as the struggles my loved ones have faced. It’s funny what can get you thinking.