Dear Daughter, I'm Sorry For The Way My Anxiety Has Affected You
You’re sleeping peacefully next to me in your bed right now, snoring quietly. It’s so calm in here, with the fan blowing, the white noise machine whirring, the soft light of your projector shining into the darkness. But inside my mind is like the aftermath of an earthquake. Everything in disarray, jumbled, chaotic.
That’s what anxiety feels like. And I want to tell you I’m sorry for letting you witness that earthquake so often. We spend a lot of time together, mainly because I’ve configured my life in a way to allow for that, yet I don’t take advantage of the time we have together. I find myself snapping instead of laughing, criticizing instead of accepting, harsh instead of gentle. And you don’t deserve that. You’re only 3.5 years old, yet at the same time you’re already 3.5 years old. It’s like you’re still a baby yet it feels like you’ll be going off to college soon, simultaneously in my brain.
I just need you to know that if you ever remember any of these days, these moments, that I’m truly sorry and I’m going to do something about them. None of this was ever your fault, at all. It’s my own internal battle that I’ve been fighting since long before you were born, and I hoped I wouldn’t bring it into parenthood but anxiety is like a virus that stays in your system. I hope that my behavior hasn’t shaped your future in any way, but then I wonder: how couldn’t it have?
You’re around me so often, learning my behaviors, watching my reactions…how could this not shape some part of you? I hope with all my heart that any impact this has had on you will be overwritten by how I’m going to become toward you. There will be a lot more years of the good stuff.
I also need you to know that you are, and always have been, perfect. Despite me fixating on your quirks and habits, you are a wonderful little human with so many amazing qualities. I should be focusing on those, nothing else. You’re an absolute genius. You’re creative and imaginative and funny and interesting and compassionate and loving and so very special, and I love you more than I ever knew it was possible to love another person.
I feel like our bodies are connected and when you’re in pain, I feel it too and want to take yours away. When you’re sad, all I want to do is suck the sadness out of you and make you smile again. You were my first baby, the baby I’d always dreamed of. You made me a mommy and I want to be the best mommy I can be. I’ve felt so much guilt about the way I’ve acted in front of you, and I hope that’s been somewhat of a penance in the eyes of the universe. I’ll always feel this guilt, and I deserve that, but I hope it eases up a bit one day because it’s a heavy burden to carry.
That’s something I’d love for you to take with you: if something is making you feel guilty, find a way to change what you’re doing so you can stop feeling that way. Guilt is a terrible, awful, paralyzing thing, and if you can make it subside somehow, do it.
I love you with all of my heart and I don’t know how long I’ve been this person I don’t want to be, but I’m going to do whatever it takes to become the mommy you’ve always deserved.
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