An Open Letter To My Mom: I’m Not Okay

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Julie Johnson / Unsplash

“How did you let it get to this point? How have we not talked about this before?”

I don’t feel like I can talk to my Mom about my anxiety. I know she’s going to read this and call me and ask why I chose an article to “come out” about my emotions, and truthfully, I don’t think I have the courage to just call her and tell her. How do I explain a random phone call on a Wednesday afternoon saying, “Hey Mom, I’m just calling because I’m having feelings and I don’t understand them and I need help and don’t know what to do.”

So, I wrote a letter instead.

Dear Mom,

I tried to handle this on my own. I didn’t want to bother you; you’re always so busy. We function on opposite schedules and with the limited free time you have, I want it spent on your husband, your other kids and yourself, not your 22-year-old daughter who (I think) should have a handle on herself by now. I don’t want you to think it’s something you did… or didn’t do. I don’t want you to blame yourself, think it’s your fault or bear the burden of guilt.

But, I can’t go on having you believe I’m completely okay, or in a good place emotionally, when I’m not. I won’t lie anymore. I hate what this is doing to me, that it’s nearly the only thing I can focus on, that it absorbs my thoughts and envelopes every happy moment I try to have.

The truth is, I feel lost. I feel swallowed by my emotions, by feelings of insufficiency, doubt, and panic. I find it difficult to get through my day; I have to consciously push away negative feelings and angry impulses. The thought of disappointing someone pushes me into a continuous downward spiral where all I can do is sit on my bare bathroom tile floor to keep from keeling over. There’s something about cold, hard linoleum my body finds calming.

I have trouble sleeping; I know I’ve told you before it’s because of my breathing or the light from my window in the morning, but it hasn’t gotten any better. It’s worse. And, I didn’t tell you a key component to the sleep troubles was exactly what was keeping me awake, what keeps me awake through the night. I lay awake imagining every possible worst scenario for the day ahead, and the week ahead, and my life ahead. I toss and turn from side to side so rapidly I’m afraid I’m going to wake my boyfriend up. It’s very quiet in my room, but my thoughts feel like they’re screaming at me, “Stay awake, stay awake and pay attention to me.”

Please don’t tell me I’m being dramatic. That’s what I’m afraid of: that you’ll think I’m blowing this out of proportion.

I know you have enough to deal with, and I don’t want to be “another thing to deal with.” I just want you to be proud of me. I just want to be your daughter, not a problem.

I’m trying, I want you to know that. Every day, just before I get out of bed, I remind myself, “Today is a new opportunity to be better than you were before.” I encourage myself to not give up, not let stress and fear and uncertainty win – to take the day minute by minute, one moment at a time, and not let ambiguity keep me confined to hopelessness.

I’m not going to give up. I refuse to be consumed by these feelings. I will not be a victim to my emotions. You have taught me to never accept the rain, but always look beyond the clouds to the sun trying to shine its way through. And I promise, I’m trying to wade past the fog to that light.

I’ll call more. I’ll try to talk less about just what’s going on in my life and more about how those events make me feel. I’ll let myself need you more.

You raised me to be strong, to never rely on anyone but myself. You encouraged me to relentlessly pursue the truth, seek answers to questions I had or problems that confused me. You told me I never needed anyone else to be me.

But I need you, to help me to remember who I am. To remember that these feelings, these crippling pains of unworthiness, do not define me. I need my Mom. TC mark

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