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This Is What Anxiety Looks Like: a Letter to a Friend
I missed your birthday.
I was looking forward to it.
I really wanted to be there.
I know that sounds like a cover-up, but it isn't.
I've had to cover-up a thousand times and I'm sick of doing that.
So here's the truth:
I was in my room getting ready,
wrapping your present,
changing my outfit,
fixing my hair,
when my monster reared its ugly head.
You've never met my monster,
and, trust me, that's on purpose.
I hope you never do meet him.
Quite frankly, he's a jerk. And not worth your time.
He's not worth my time either, but I'm stuck with him.
My monster has horns, that he punctures my lungs with. He fills my lungs with water, suffocating me. I drown amongst my books, my words, my sinking sanity.
My monster has rocks for fists, that he uses to turn my chest to stone. Then he takes his branches for fingers and stirs up my stomach.
My monster has jumper cables that he hooks to my heart. My heart jumps from my chest, and he chases it as it jitters along the floor.
My monster breathes fire, and he blows his hot breath down my neck. Then he grabs ice cubes and shoves them down my spine.
My monster has steel toes, that he kicks my knees with; he sends them reverberating, crashing into each other.
My monster grabs my hands, implants one of those restaurant buzzers in each, watches as I try to grasp reality with vibrating fingers.
My monster has glasses that he attaches to my head. They make the world look scary, dismal, dark, even in the brightest of places. These glasses make parties look like riots and I'm caught in the crossfire. They make people look like monsters. They make crowds look like stampedes headed straight toward me.
The only way to get rid of my monster is to wait him out.
I'm stubborn, you see, so I can wait for eternities.
But my monster still gets the last laugh
because he leaves me battered and bruised
and gulping for air
and wobbling as I stand, unsure as a newborn fawn.
Only after he's satisfied with his taunting, my monster retreats.
But he is always watching, silent.
He follows me everywhere I go.
He perches on my shoulder.
He sits at the kitchen table as I drink my coffee.
He comes to class with me.
He tags along to dinners, the movies, family gatherings.
He sits, he waits, and every so often he pounces.
I view my anxiety separate from myself.
It's a coping mechanism.
I know it's not my fault, it's by fault of this little devil.
But I'm always left to pick up his mess.
I make excuses, cover up, hide.
I don't want you to see my monster.
I don't want you to see what he does to me.
Suddenly the phone ringing is as summoning and ominous as a guillotine
because I don't know what to say when I pick up