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anxiety.

I was five.

I cried, "Mama, please don't leave me here. Mama, I'm afraid."

It was school at which she intended to leave me, and it was school where she had left me, everyday for months.

The teachers told her I would adjust, her friends told her I wasn't good enough, she told me it would be okay, but I knew she could see the pain in my eyes as they all lied.

And I couldn't say anything more, 'cause I was just five.

Then, I was ten.

I hadn't adjusted, so they decided to homeschool me. But, I still went to events, and cooperatives, and classes.

When she dropped me off at these places, I thought, "Please don't leave me here, Mama. I'm afraid."

But, I was a big girl. Or so they told me. And big girls don't cry, big girls are brave.

Soon, I was fourteen.

I quit dance lessons, I lost friendships. I realized that I was far too obsessed with the way others saw me, and I the way I saw myself also began to change.

I wasn't just afraid, anymore.

That summer I went to a summer camp. As my mom drove me, I cried, this time aloud, "Mama, please don't leave me there. I'm afraid." She left me, and I enjoyed it, but it was immensely uncomfortable and I was nauseous the entire week.

I was sixteen.

I didn't want to drive. When I held the steering wheel between my shaking hands, all I could see were bad situations scrawled along the dashboard in invisible ink incited by my fear.

I didn't get my drivers license that year. Or the one after.

Whenever I tried to operate the vehicle, I mumbled from the drivers seat, "Mama, please don't leave me here. I'm afraid."

I'm eighteen.

And I can't let my story end with those words.

"Mama, I'm afraid."





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