Hello, I’m Raquel’s backbone

oct 23 - Hello, I'm Raquel's backboneDear Anxiety,

Last month, I backed up into a tree.

It was dark; I was in Cypress Hills Provincial Park, so there were a lot of trees around. And I was driving a vehicle I wasn’t entirely familiar with.

It made a thud.

This is not the first tree I’ve backed into – or pole, for that matter (or Mercedes, but we won’t go there). Years ago, I even backed into a brick pillar at the end of a neighbour’s driveway and toppled it.

For someone so self-reflective, I never thought I’d say I ought to look behind me more often.

I also never thought backing into a tree – or a brick pillar thingy, would become so much a part of my identity. But the event triggered a very nervous reaction. I bit my lower lip, the way I did when I was scared I’d asked a dumb question in school – the way I do whenever I’m at confession. Now, imagine the act of backing into a tree at less than three kilometres an hour triggering such an enormous amount of guilt, you feel you need to ask Jesus Christ himself for forgiveness.

Even with the aid of medication, these moments still arise. So, Anxiety, I’m going to offer you a truce. Since you have no intention of leaving anyway, you dirty little squatter, I’ve come to terms with letting you stay.

Yes, you can stay. But you cannot define me. This isn’t me. I am not an anxious person. I am a person with anxiety. I am an easy-going, caring, sincere person with anxiety. You can stay, but there are times when you have to stay at bay – you can no longer interfere with my autonomy and my ability to defend myself. You may not cause me to second-guess myself and tell me I’m wrong all the time: you need to keep your opinions about my decisions to yourself.

Yes, you can stay – I’ve even become a little fond of you (when you’re not making me nauseous), but let’s get one thing straight: I’m in charge around here. I own me – and I own you.

I own you.