Dear Frenetic Version of Me,
I notice you’ve been making more appearances lately than I really enjoy and I want you to know that it’s wearing me out. My life will just be plugging along and then, out of the blue, when a challenge appears, there you are—moving too quickly, blood pressure rising, voice getting louder and more impatient.
I keep thinking I’ve proven to you that I don’t need you any more, that I’ve grown past you. Looking back on all those years of therapy, I’m surprised—disappointed, really—that the newer, softer, Laid-Back Version of Me hasn’t kicked you out completely. But just this week, when I realized I had more to do than the number of hours available to do it in, there you were, poking your head around the corner, egging me on. “Wow,” you said, somewhat arrogantly. “You’ll never get all that done. You’ve really gotten yourself into something this time, haven’t you?” you asked. “There will be no time left for you now unless you amp things up.”
And man, did I bite. Panic set in quickly and I was practically running through my house gathering up my stuff to head off to the next thing I’d committed to. I could feel myself getting nervous, then anxious, then angry and resentful. The thing is, I hate your visits. I’m so tired of seeing the world through your eyes, so exhausted from having to keep my dukes up so often. I can’t stand the pathological way you view everything. When you’re around, all I hear are mantras like, “Life isn’t really worth living if you’re not worried about how you’re going to get through that next big challenge.”
In an odd way, I’ve at least learned to take your visits as a sign that I’m losing ground in my ability to manage—not so much in what I take on, but how I react to it. Your presence lately has been reminding me that I’m choosing the laziest, least interesting and most destructive response. Today, for example, when I realized I had three things to do in a period of time that might allow for two, but probably only one, there you were. I greeted you cordially, as I always do when I first see you, because you’re familiar. I know you better than I know practically any other version of myself. But then, since I really did have to accomplish a few tasks—including driving my car, which never goes well when you’re at the wheel—I asked you to sit quietly for a minute while I did a quick inventory from the perspective of my calmer, wiser self.
I’ve welcomed much more fun iterations of myself and I’ve become acquainted with me on a different,
more grounded level.
In moments, what had seemed like a calamity, was worked out. I took my time, I moved things around a little, my healthy rational self took a deep breath, and I was patting myself on the back for having done some good creative problem-solving.
This is not to say that you don’t have a point now and then. I do take on too much, and I expect more of myself than I need to, but I still blame you, even for that. You’re the one who sees a hole and tells me I’m the one that needs to fill it. You hear someone cry and you suggest me as the person who could offer consolation. A friend says they need assistance and you start tapping me on the shoulder in that really pushy way of yours. And don’t think you have me fooled. I know full well when you’ve been going through my finances. Those are always the days I feel pushed to sign up for a few more part-time gigs, “just to be sure we always have enough,” as you put it.
But today, when I got you to sit silently like that, when my tranquil self was making decisions, it gave me new resolve. I know why you appeared in the first place all those years ago. I really do. The Frenetic Version of Me seemed like the only one who could handle things. You were a great shield in a world that scared me and tested my skills. Getting worked up and crazy about everything just appeared to be the safest way to go. But in the last year or so, when I didn’t need you for all of those work-related catastrophes I used to find myself in, I’ve learned to do countless things without you. I’ve welcomed much more fun iterations of myself and I’ve become acquainted with me on a different, more grounded level.
And so, although I certainly don’t want to hurt your feelings, I am writing today to let you know I will no longer be needing your services. I’m sure there will be days when I feel the stress and anxiety growing, and I'll probably wish for you in some sick way to come in and take over with those big boots you wear, but I’m going to try some new tricks instead. Your heavy-handed presence is just not necessary anymore. So thanks for the times you got me going, and I really do appreciate the ways you saved me from potential chaos, but I think I’m fine. Let the chaos come now. I’ll either meet it with grace or learn something great in the process of making my way through it without you.