Dear Twenty-Something Year Old,
Let me start by telling you how sorry I am for turning into an unpredictable, needy mess last week. I would love to rewind the clock and take back everything I said and texted to you. It may surprise you to know that I actually have a much better filter now that I’m almost forty … or at least I thought I did until last week when I was experiencing extreme anxiety and I somehow managed to completely screw up a perfectly good working relationship. I know my words may have caused irreparable damage and I hate that because I'm the kind of person who becomes friends with the people I work with, especially when they are someone like you who is focused on encouraging others, not criticizing them.
And while you were aware that last week was stressful for me, I wish you truly knew the level of stress and anxiety I was experiencing. If you understood that sleep deprivation and high levels of stress cause me to go from being my quirky, overly open self to a tab bit crazy ... well, maybe slightly more than a tad bit, then you would know that you shouldn't think anything of my bizarre behavior.
Yes, I told you that sometimes I think you're flirting with me and you were quick to shut that down ... so quick! I knew the moment I said it that I didn't really mean to say it, but then your reaction was a bit unsettling. Our conversation moved on and I tried to let the whole interaction go, but in my crazy state of mind I kept replaying that scene over and over again. I couldn’t help but feel like a creepy old lady trying to seduce a much younger man. I hated feeling that way, especially because it didn’t reflect my intention in the least.
So hours later what did I do? I texted you hoping to explain why I said what I did, but of course, with me being anxiety riddled and lacking of any actual common sense I shared with you far too much without actually explaining what was going on. Which only made everything much, much worse.
Even my husband couldn't help but laugh while feeling sorry for me when I told him what I had done. He asked me what I was thinking and I told him the truth ... I wasn't thinking. If I had been, I would have known that saying something like that could never turn out well and trying to following up via text messages is a recipe for disaster.
What you didn’t know last week was that for nearly a week before I changed our relationship from playful and fun to awkward and uncomfortable, I had been feeling extreme anxiety over a looming situation with my daughter. I had been struggling to eat, I couldn't sleep, and I constantly felt like I was going to throw up. The physical pain throughout my body was nearly unbearable. I felt completely out of control which only made me feel even crazier because while I might seem easy going and relaxed, secretly I am a bit of a control freak.
If you had known all of this, then maybe you'd understand that in my uncontrolled state of mind, I suddenly felt the need to clarify that while I enjoy our playful banter, I needed to make sure you knew that it couldn't go anywhere. Clearly, something I didn't actually need to clarify. Ugh!
And while there is a large part of me that wishes I could change the interaction that took place between us, the reality is I'm grateful it happened. My crazy behavior with you helped me to have an incredible moment with my daughter who has extreme anxiety on a daily basis. I shared everything with her, from the physical pain the anxiety caused to how I made a complete fool out of myself with someone who doesn't know me well enough to know that my intentions were in the right place.
I let her know that I now understand why she sometimes acts the way she does ... why she allows herself to be consumed with activities which bring her so much joy that she can temporarily forget about her anxiety … why she becomes obsessive with trying to comprehend exactly where she stands with other people in her life. I was able to verbalize and empathize with the fact that unfortunately, through her attempts to gain clarity, she has lost friends because they didn't understand that her anxiety was causing her to question everything when all she really wanted and needed was to be assured that she belonged.
Now that my anxiety has subsided and I’m thinking more clearly, I know that I can never send you this letter because I wouldn’t want to further damage our relationship with another attempt to better explain my bout of craziness, but writing about it and laughing at how completely insane my behavior was has definitely made me feel better. It has also helped me realize how blessed I am to have had the opportunity to relate to my daughter in a way that was authentic and vulnerable, which I think we both needed. So, I guess what I'm saying is ... thank you.
Blessed │ Wife │ Mom │ Friend │ Founder of GOOD │ Author │ Public Speaker │ Golf Fanatic
It took me years to find my voice and even longer to learn how to use it so that I’m creating GOOD rather than just fighting the bad. Now I use my voice to heal myself and hopefully others along the way.
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Sending love to all those who struggle with mental health and/or have lost a loved one to suicide.
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