i joke about the duality
   between normal!brain and
     Anxiety!Brain: Able to Leap to the Worst Conclusion in a Single Bound

But the reality is
   anxiety is the tiny voice in the back of your brain
     that never
 shuts off.

It is the voice that tells you
   that no, there ARE opinions that matter
    and it isn't going to care if
     your logical brain says that no, that one doesn't.

It's the shying from conversations
   the shutting off of your own emotion
     the refusal to see yourself
       the confusion once you do.

It is the voice that says You
   Are Not Allowed
   to have negative emotions,
   because if you do -
    if you do,
     you're nothing but a burden.

  It is the voice that says you are not -
    will never be -
     enjoyed for who, for what you are

that maybe who and what you are
   shouldn't exist

 and even when you manage to shunt
    most of that to the side,
      silence some,

  force yourself into some semblance
    of calm and reality and acceptance
   random moments
   will catch you utterly off-guard

Like the moment your friend says
   you have accepted him more fully
   than people he's known for decades,

  and you realize

it's because you want that, desperately,
   from those whose opinions actually matter.

Those moments you remember
   that one year,
  ten years ago,
   where every time
    your phone rang

it was someone else you loved dead
and it left you so irrational about phone calls
   and the thought of picking up the phone
  comes with a mix of "They'll think
    Something Bad Happened" and
  feeling like you need permission.

When you realize
   that one word can calm
     or twist your thoughts
into massive confusion
   and all it takes is one.

When you recognize
    that a lot of the plans you make
   on a day to day basis
on coping mechanisms

And when you know
   that opening up to anyone
     feels as though you are offering
   raw, flayed underbelly
    unless it doesn't,
    and that "doesn't"
  inevitably catches you

And you see clearly
  that you're simultaneously
   capable of infinite
But beneath the surface
  that damn voice is saying,


And that voice doesn't care
   if you happen to know for a fact
 that it isn't true.
It doesn't matter, nothing matters
   except the monologue behind your eyes
   that says
 You must be useful
  and if you're not, then


But you know better.
   You know your worth
  has never depended on
   your usefulness.
Not that anxietybrain
   cares any more about it.

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