Long before I met you I decided I didn’t measure up.
I spent most of my life disappointed with who I am. But do you remember that day you told me I was beautiful, in one of the hardest seasons of my life? I believed you.
I’ve worked so hard to order my world—to develop rhythms and strategies to be able to love you and the kids, do the work I love and not fall apart. I know my perfectionism made you feel at times like I cared more about the house than you, but it isn’t true. I just didn’t know yet how to make peace with imperfection and trust that my world would not come crashing down around me if I loosened my grip.
I am so sorry for the times I yelled or freaked out—it had absolutely nothing to do with you, but was rooted in fear. I didn’t know then how to ask for help, or even how to admit what I was really feeling, so all my grief and fear poured out over you and the kids.
There is nothing more important to me than family.
Here’s what I need you to know about my anxiety: for much of our marriage it made me feel broken and inadequate but I have decided to learn to love myself even as I learn to love you.
You don’t understand procrastination, but I have fought it my whole life. I want to do well at everything, so when I doubt my ability to do so, I freeze and do nothing at all. I have slowly learned to face things head on and your understanding helps.
When you text me to tell me you are proud of me or to cheer me on, I feel affirmed and loved and remember I do not have to prove my worth.
The days you find me curled up in bed with Netflix are usually days I’m feeling small and afraid. Afraid of failure or afraid of my success. My brain never stops scanning for what needs to be fixed or what I ought to do better, and sometimes the way to shut this down is to numb out for just a little while.
When I forget something or make a mistake, I need you to be patient, forgive quickly, and remember that I am always doing my imperfect best. Otherwise, this feeds my hungry inner critic and confirms what I have known since childhood—I don’t have what it takes.
Sometimes I wrestle with shame because I cannot do all the things some other women do and I’ve wondered if you wished I was different. But if I sacrifice sleep or nutrition for productivity, if my life is packed to the brim, I crumble.
Here’s what I need you to know about my anxiety: sometimes it lies heavy in my chest and takes my breath away and I wonder if everyone has to work this hard just to show up to life each day.
This isn’t just a feel-good exercise but one of the ways I fight for life.
It is so hard and uncomfortable for you to talk about my past—but we need to be real if we are to grow old together and if I am to heal.
Sometimes you think I am mouthy or stubborn, and it is true. But what you might not see is how these fiery traits have helped me persist and fight for wholeness when I am in despair.
Your willingness to hold and touch me without expectation, even though this didn’t come naturally to you, has been huge. Your touch is one of the best things in my life and I feel safe wrapped up tight in your arms.
Here’s what I need you to know about my anxiety: even though I have worked hard and come far I can’t always control when it shows up and I am always a little afraid of it.
As I build resilience and develop a healthy stress mindset, I love how you grow alongside me. You recognize that this is not only my journey; our lives are forever intertwined.
Your willingness to practice vulnerability by opening up about your own fears reminds me I am not alone.
When I tell you I need to quit wine because the numbing has gotten bad again, hear me. Do not downplay it and suggest I have just one drink; I don’t know how to have just one drink anymore. If I have the courage to tell you the truth, then you need the courage to hear.
You see me as proficient and reliable, but I mask well. I have lived with chronic pain and anxiety so long that I deal with most of it on my own. I keep so much inside. So when I tell you my anxiety has spiked and I need help, I really mean it and I need you to listen.
I can’t always advocate for myself when things get bad. I need people watching and speaking truth into my life. I need you to take me to the doctor or drive me for blood work. At that point asking for help feels like the straw that will break me and sometimes I can’t see what you see.
Here’s what I need you to know about my anxiety: I am still learning to heal and live with joy and I’m so grateful I get to walk out this messy journey hand-in-hand with you.