Your soul

Why You Should Write To And For Yourself: It’s An Art

By December 10, 2015 0
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I recently came across a letter I wrote back in May of this year. I have no idea who I was writing it to at the time, and I clearly wasn’t writing it to myself; perhaps I was just typing and writing to my laptop? Who knows. But I do remember writing it and feeling better after it was done. Not “I-can-conquer-the-whole-freaking-world” better, but better.

It’s a very honest letter, and it’s vulnerable. It’s a glimpse into my mind and heart. I’m hoping it will bring awareness to anxiety, but I’m also hoping to bring back the art of writing yourself a letter.

I suffer from severe anxiety, both social and every day anxiety. When it becomes something that affects you to this level, you are forced to find little comforts that will help you cope. Ever since I was a little girl, my biggest coping mechanisms were always my dogs, and that statement stands ever-true today. It’s amazing to me to read this and see the anxiety fuming out of it, and to know that I’m okay now.

I’m okay now.

Here goes:

“The start of the summer has brought me the special opportunity to add another dog into my life. Dogs have always been such a huge and important part of my life. I have been a dog-sitter/dog-walker for over five years now. In addition to having my parents’ dogs in my life (the dogs whom I have grown up with), I want to add my own dog to the family and into my life. We currently have an almost-13-year-old German shepherd mix whom we adopted 12 years ago, an almost-nine-year-old yellow lab who has been in our lives for seven-and-a-half years, and a Chihuahua/pug mix (chug) who is a year-and-a-half old. These boys are my whole world. They’ve been with me through thick and thin, and I can’t imagine having grown up without them. So, why do I want to add another dog into the family?

Well, I just recently finished my second year of college. I’m actually transferring from my current school to another one – this means huge changes for me and my life. I mean, HUGE changes. This presents some problems because I am a creature of habit, no joke (for example, when I was walking to class on campus every day, I had to – had to – walk to the building on the same path and walk into the building through the same door every single day I had that class. Yes, it’s rather severe. This is somewhat ironic considering I grew up an army brat and my life was full of nothing but change, i.e. nine moves in 16 years. I suppose becoming a creature of habit for the little things is my way of taking control over my life when I never really had that chance growing up).

Since there are so many changes happening in my life, I needed to find my own little piece of comfort to accompany me on this journey of transferring to a new school, as well as moving away from home. So, what is this little piece of comfort? Actually, she’s not that little – she’s a sweet, fluffy girl who comes up to my knee, and she has had an incredible impact on my life. You guessed right! This not-so-little fluff ball of comfort is a dog I hope to adopt soon (fingers crossed)!

For me, dogs are my comfort zone. Growing up, no matter where I was, as long as there was a dog around, I was comfortable. I could easily be myself at a birthday party where I barely knew anyone, or at a gathering for my dad’s work where the only people I knew were my parents and my two older sisters, as long as there was a dog around whom I could pet and play with. When I finally came around to the hard decision that I needed to transfer schools, I felt so overwhelmed. This is me making myself vulnerable here, but I think it will help you all understand me better – I have anxiety on so many different levels and for so many different things that it makes changes like this one hard for me. So, what brought me peace? What made the idea of this change easier? That’s easy. The one thing that has helped me get through this and helped me with my anxiety: the thought of getting a dog. Eventually, I narrowed that description to one specific dog, but we’ll get to her later, you can count on it – I love talking about her.

I’ve been searching for a dog since November of 2014 when I first came to the conclusion that I had to leave my current school, Campbell University. My roommate, who is a very good friend of mine, helped me reach this conclusion during a serious conversation over lunch one day. This decision was a hard one. I love Campbell. The first time I visited the campus I knew instantaneously that it was the school for me – it just felt like home. Unfortunately, things change (there’s that word again, change). In the beginning, my roommate and I decided to apply for East Carolina University (ECU). Unfortunately, our plans changed again when they accepted me, but not her. This time we chose North Carolina State University. I got in (yay!), and she’ll be coming with me to live in Raleigh while she goes to a different university for psychology. Here’s the thing about Campbell vs. NC State – Campbell is a small, private university while NC State is most certainly not small at all. I’m an introvert (hence why I stick to hanging out with the furry “people” at parties and gatherings instead of actual people). So, this really is going to be a huge change for me. Once that sunk in, you can cue the anxiety levels going through the roof. Man was it bad. However, deep down I knew this was the right decision, and I knew I had to get over my reservations and fears as quickly as possible, otherwise I would make myself sick to my stomach every time I even thought about going to NC State.

In addition to the anxiety starting, this is also where my search for a dog became more intense. In February, my boyfriend went with me to a shelter in Fayetteville where my family has adopted from before. I met a sweet hound mix who I wanted to take home with me. Truthfully, there was no real connection between us, I just thought he was beautiful and a well-behaved dog who I wouldn’t have to worry about too much while I was in class. Fortunately for him, shortly after I met him, he was adopted by a sweet family. It wasn’t meant to be for us, but I’m so happy he found a good home! In early April, I met another dog – one who stole my heart. Honestly, it was love at first sight. There’s no other way to describe it. The thought of her is the thought of being home (I can say the same about my boyfriend and my family dogs, that’s how I knew it was real).

It’s been one speed bump after the next in regards to adopting her. Right now, even though she hasn’t come home with us yet, she is my not-so-little piece of comfort who I know I can’t go through this huge change in my life without.

So, what is it that helps me get through changes in my life? Dogs – my own and those whom I watch/walk – and my loved ones who will be with me every step of the way. I won’t be able to live away from home, in a new neighborhood without my sweet dog. She’s the one who has made the idea of moving an exciting event in my life, rather than a scary one that makes me want to crawl into the fetal position on the bathroom floor (there’s an image for you).

 

So, that’s that. Anxiety overload has now ended, and like I said before, I’m okay now. You have no idea how happy it makes me to be able to say that and to know that it’s true.

For me, I love being able to look back and see how far I’ve come. Maybe it’s not that long ago, and maybe it doesn’t seem like I’ve come that far, but it represents progress. My heart is full – I’m so incredibly happy and grateful.

Rereading this letter has re-opened my eyes to the struggles of this past summer (something I think I purposely forgot). It’s made me realize how much I’ve grown. I think it’s important to write letters to yourself, even if you don’t know who you’re writing it to or for – it’s important to write it anyway. If you have something to say, say it. Don’t keep it bottled up inside.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway.

Let it out. Bleed.

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