Dear Hazel, Hudson, Sage and my niece or nephew that my sister is still growing right now. (Hurry up, January!),

Tuesday is a giant day for our country. It is going to make history. You are going to learn about this some day in school. There are actually a ton of things going on right now that you are going to learn about in school. That being said, there are some things that I want to say now while I am feeling them. There are things I want you to know, things you need to know

Sometimes I Worry I Am Becoming The Person I Promised Myself I'd Never Be.

It was easier, throughout high school and most of college, to assume I'd always be the single one, going it alone. It didn't bother me much; I packed my schedule and was always studying, always the headstrong one who didn't have time to let another person in let alone risking loving or depending on them. The anxiety that has crippled so many in my family also contributed, perhaps, to wanting to isolate myself a bit; because I knew that if and when that side of me ever creeped out, it'd get ugly quickly.

Today has been, in a nutshell, chaotic and horrible. I hit my breaking point.

Today has been, in a nutshell, chaotic and horrible. I hit my breaking point. I couldn’t get a grip. I was breaking out in hives. I was crying in the break room during my lunch and I was telling myself that I am a failure. Then, I text one of my favorite friends, Hannah, who has been in my corner since we have met and she said to me, “Write about it, post it, and inspire someone who thinks they’re the only one feeling not good enough.”

I'm not even 22, and yet already I've been through a lot. I never really imagined growing up would be like this, but it is.

I'm not even 22, and yet already I've been through a lot. I never really imagined growing up would be like this, but it is.

Throughout elementary school, I was bullied, beaten up, and I grew terrified of school, but still enjoyed learning.

At 14, I was assaulted by a boy I thought I could trust, with the help of my first ever real boyfriend.

10 years ago, I was married to a wonderful man; generous, kind, financially stable.

10 years ago, I was married to a wonderful man; generous, kind, financially stable. On paper, it seemed like I had it all. To the rest of the world, I did. There was only one problem, I wasn't happy. I was an empty vessel, lonely, bored longing for something that was missing. It was just around that same time that I met someone else. Oddly enough, someone else who was going through the same things in their life that I was in mine. We became friends. I liked having this person in my life who understood me and understood how I felt. But that's where things got complicated. We both quickly realized that the thing missing in each of our lives--was each other. I loved him. He loved me. But this was far from the perfect love story. We had to end our marriages and start a new life. Start all over again.

My dad is the most inspirational person that I have ever been lucky enough I know.

My dad is the most inspirational person that I have ever been lucky enough I know. He is hilarious. He is so wise and kind and weird. He cares more about his lawn than most and he loves The Eagles. He is spiritual and open-minded. He lives every day of his life for others and has shown me what is important-- what real success is-- and that the important things in life really aren’t things. He is pure good.

I am an 88 year old widower who lives alone with my Calico cat Mary in a small cottage home by Reeds Lake in Grand Rapids Michigan.

I am an 88 year old widower who lives alone with my Calico cat Mary in a small cottage home by Reeds Lake in Grand Rapids Michigan. I purchased my house for approximately $10,000 fifty or more years ago because I wanted a Great Dane dog as pets were not allowed in my apartment. I wanted to be a professional actor but chose to be an accountant after graduating from a small business college. My thought was if the company I was hired into went broke I would go to New York and try for the big time.

Life started for me, the youngest of 4 boys, the youngest of 8 close, male, best friend brothers and cousins, and 1 gorgeous female cousin.

Life started for me, the youngest of 4 boys, the youngest of 8 close, male, best friend brothers and cousins, and 1 gorgeous female cousin. Growing up, we did everything together, launched G I Joes off of my grandmothers close-line, created whirlpools in her out of ground pool, attended many drive-in movies.... We had it all, and still have it all; happiness, family, and a sense of overall love for parents, uncles & aunts, and the love for cousins that have become best friends throughout the years. We did, and have done EVERYTHING together since the 90's (and I say that like I am 50). But sometimes life deals you an unfortunate set, a short hand, a deck of 51 cards, instead of 52; a card missing that may be the one that completes a full house, one that you wish you had until this very day. It is coming up on a decade since you have been gone, but each and every one of us have been thinking about you daily for the last 3,540 or so days.

It never crossed my mind to reach out to you until recently

It never crossed my mind to reach out to you until recently. I've been a consistent reader of everyone writing into you but I never thought to do it myself. See, half the problem was, and is, I've been blind to my own problems. Long story short, I've struggled with an eating disorder for about 8 years now. I gained weight my freshman year of college. The Freshmen 15 is no joke.  I felt disgusting and could not accept how I felt. I was thin my whole life, never worried about my weight or what I ate. This was something so new and something so disturbing to me. I spent the entire summer of my freshman year trying to lose weight. I did and moved on. I started eating less and working out more. My sophomore year it became a bit of an obsession, but with the distraction of school and friends and so much going on during college, I managed. I gained weight again senior year and swore to myself after I graduated I'd never let myself get that "fat" again. 

What I've learned.

Like many other people, I’ve spent a lot of time beating myself up for what I haven’t done yet. I’ve set expectations for myself that were too big or overwhelming that instead of motivating me, they made me feel stuck. Thankfully, I am now at a point in my life where I don’t feel the self-imposed pressure that I used to and I’m going to share with you how I got here.

In therapy, I have been taught that anxiety is something that is learned.

In therapy, I have been taught that anxiety is something that is learned. While my story of living with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder is a long and confusing one, I can now look back and figure out exactly when I started to “learn” to be anxious. It was 11 years ago and I was 17 years old. I am not entirely sure if it is necessary to tell you about specific experiences that lead me to learning to be anxious, but I can tell you, for sure, it is important to share with you what else I learned that year and every year afterwards.