For years I let it win.

Each day that it chased me, I let it catch me. I let it in when it came knocking, offering it drinks and good company.

It loved it.

It loved it when I fed it with bad habits like food, impulse shopping, and meaningless social media dopamine hits.

It grew as I fed it, as I filled my mind with thoughts such as, “did I say something stupid? Was that post too much? Is my outfit perfectly put together enough? Did they notice I gained weight?”

It grew and it grew. Each time it took over, I managed it in a way I thought right.

“Things are out of control,” it said.

I listened.

I created meal plan after meal plan. Goal after goal. New life strategy after new life strategy.

“You failed,” it told me.

I listened.

I promised that, tomorrow, I would start to be perfect, because today, well today I am a failure.

“You aren’t good enough,” it shouted.

I listened.

I blew up every rejection, every negative comment that had ever been made about me in my head, forgetting every single nice one — every single accomplishment.

“You need to be different,” it stated.

I listened.

I listened for so long, I fed it, I gave in to it’s power.

It loved my weaknesses. It loved taking normal, beautiful imperfections of life and turning them into supposed wrongdoings with consequences. It loved beating me up, telling me all the negative things it thought I needed to hear.

But me, I didn’t love it.

I didn’t love living in a world trapped by the constraints of my own mind — constantly thinking I didn’t have enough time, money, good looks, or good fortune.

I didn’t love saying no to friends, looking put together while shaking on the inside. I didn’t love losing minutes — hours of my life trapped in my own head, forgetting that time was even passing by — feeling like I wasn’t able to live.

I didn’t love any of it.

I didn’t love being controlled by food, by my schedule, by my own need to be “perfect.”

I didn’t love wondering why I couldn’t be like I used to, why my mind was my greatest strength whilst also my greatest weakness.

I didn’t love watching it grow year after year, day after day, wondering when it would be over, while continuing to be further squashed by it’s power.

I didn’t love living a self-fulfilling prophecy of perceived “failure” every day.

I didn’t love any of it.

Each time it knocked, I opened the door. And then, realizing I didn’t want it in my home, I created the newest plan of attack for getting it out of my life.

This week, a meal plan. Last week, a new social media bio that really was “perfect,” this time.

Each and every time my plan of attack failed when I realized that the plans of attack were actually exactly what it wanted. It wanted me to be controlled, to be held to standards outside of any one human’s reach.

Each and every time my plans failed it cut deeper. I had failed again. I couldn’t even control my own control — I got tired.

I got tired of running, of making unattainable plans and then failing. I got tired of searching for “who I was and who I was meant to be.” I got tired of comparing myself to others, of wondering why I couldn’t just “get it” for good.

Each time, I got more tired. And each time, it cut deeper.

And now, I’m down to the bone.

I’m done.

I’m done making the plans it wants me to make. I’m done buying the clothes it wants me to buy. I’m done posting the photo it wants me to post. I’m done being the “perfect” person it wants me to be, the person that changes every single day — making it impossible to ever reach.

I’m done with it.

It ambushed me today while I tried to enjoy a meal with a friend. It over took me as we sat on the second floor of a brownstone in Boston, me, unable to enjoy the company in front of me.

I left, “needing” to go do my groceries, work, write a new meal plan, check my schedule, clean, and make lists — but this time, this time I called my mom. I called my mom and I told her that it was bad today, that I couldn’t do it anymore

That I was done.

And then I wrote.

I wrote this piece and wrote some more. I deleted my social media apps off my phone, I realized that life would go on if I didn’t handle my groceries today. I said no to more plans and realized that I’m on exactly the path I need to be.

I said goodbye.

And I’m sure I will say hello again. This isn’t over, but now, I’m done letting it win.

I’m fighting.

Because the truth is, I could go on a perfect meal plan, never drink with friends again, and save my money perfectly in order to manage this and never worry about doing something wrong or out of the ordinary again.

But I don’t f***ing want to.

So, anxiety, I really, truly, dare you to come at me — because this time, I’m ready to go to war.

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