By Marie Demasi
Dear 20-year-old Self,
I can talk to you now, 15 years later. I can tell you that you will be in this amazing space in your life and although difficult, not the same dark hole you once lived in. The place where your anxiety got the best of you and took you down and kept you from moving forward. It debilitated you and kept you in bed and wouldn’t let you live. You were scared to live, so scared that you thought it best to not go on. Not that you didn’t want to be here but the fear of your existence made it seem like the better option. You didn’t want to be the burden, you didn’t see your worth, you didn’t take the time to let the world take a few spins with cleansing breaths that you DESERVE TO BE ON THIS EARTH and have the many blessings that surround you today (the most important the 3 little miracles you brought into the world).
Let’s talk about those panic attacks and dibilitating anxiety that made you flake out on friends, cry in your car because you didn’t know what was happening to your body, not show up to jobs, school, and lose friends because you couldn’t “face your problems” like the rest of the world or you were “embarrassed” by what was happening to you. You can actually count all the times that anxiety kept you from an amazing opportunity, the excuses you created (Thanks anxiety) to get out of things, and the friendships you truly miss… but in that process you also learned who your friends were, many who to this day get it when that EVIL TRIGGER of anxiety returns and you check out a bit …. hound you or force visits/calls and coffee talks to not let you get to that dibilitated state again. Those friends know you don’t want to undo all the hard work you did to get yourself to where you are today.
You also have three kids that say “GOOD MORNING MOMMA! What fun things are we doing today?” They are relying on you, no time to be in the dark hole. Remember the feeling you felt on the day the twins decided to show up a month early… totally relaxed even surprising your best friend of 10 plus years. Her response on the phone, “you are strangely calm”. Not like you at all, but you had no time to think or feel anxious… they had to get out. That calm didn’t last too long as there were some complications and your anxiety got you in a panic. But that first year YOU WERE DETERMINED TO LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST!!
Every bump, you kept living, enjoying every little moment of being a mommy to the miracle beans. REMEMBER THAT FEELING, hold that tight! And how good it felt after months and months of stress, anxiety and fear that you would lose them…. how lucky you felt to have them and wake up as their mom. Little eyes are watching, you had to change your coping skills or lack their of. You can’t just lay in bed all day, forcing yourself to sleep to numb the pain, or cry uncontrollably. You learn to take breaks when you need them, getting the kids out in the sunshine and go for a walk, grab coffee or dinner with friends you feel comfortable just being with. LOTS OF HUGS. Closing the door, crying the tears, taking deep breaths and then function again.
The goal is to function every day the best you can and keep moving forward. Find ways to heal, for you it’s being a voice and fundraising/overnight walks with the AFSP (American Foundation or Suicide Prevention) changed you. Doing the 18 mile walk was cathartic and made you feel closer to your brother who you miss daily (that man will never leave, the memories will fade and that is scary but you feel closer when you are walking in his honor). You learn not to react so quickly and really take deep breaths.
Know that everyday you wake up and breathe YOU ARE WORTH IT!! YOU DESERVE TO BE HERE! YOUR MIRACLES DESERVE YOU AS THEIR MOMMA and most IMPORTANTLY “Love yourself more fiercely than anyone else”. I recently called my mom and said, “I love myself more to make a change.” I made some big changes in the past 7 months, many changes that 20-year-old Marie would never have done. Changes that were best for me and my children… I just couldn’t feel stuck anymore. The stuck reminds me of the dibilitating anxiety and that all leads to the dark hole. The dark hole with no way to climb out … YOU WILL NOT GO THERE AGAIN!
Challenges and challenging people are everywhere (it’s life) but surround yourself with the goodness, the ones who allow your authentic self no matter how vulnerable she may be… scars, bruises, mistakes and all. You said goodbye to the person who wasn’t comfortable in her own skin… the anxiety made it like an itchy tag turned into the most itchiest sweater and you started to love who you are and slowly see your worth in all her “Work in progress” now do your best to not give up on the you, you’ve become.
Your 35-year-old self.