I don't really know what prompted me to write this letter or when I first felt like it might be helpful. The idea would flash through my mind, and I'd shove it down and say, "not right now." But the other night, I was wide awake and starting to spiral into a panic attack, and I knew what I had to do. I grabbed a journal, and I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. I can't tell you that I felt amazing afterwards. I can't tell you that all of a sudden, I knew things would be okay. But I can tell you that I felt a little release. I let myself say things I had refused to admit before, and it was healing. I addressed the hidden feelings straight-on, because I'm finding that's the only way to work through them sometimes.

So, maybe this is what you need to do. Maybe you're hiding emotions in the depths of your heart, pushing away how you feel in order to express how you think you should be. And maybe it's not working anymore. That's okay.

For a little bit of time, let all your walls down, and just write. It might be easier than you anticipate. Just start, and let what you need to come out flow out of you. Be honest. Take your time. Don't censor your words. Write your dark truths.

Write what you need to write to find some release and some healing. Write what you need to write to get you through tonight. Write what you need to write to keep going a little longer.

Write the pain. Write the hurt. Write the anger. Write the hope.

Some of my letter is immensely personal, so I'm not including all of it, but I do want to share parts of it to remind you that you're not alone. You're not the only one feeling the way you do. And it's okay to let it out sometimes.

Dear Chronic Pain,

I'm really tired of you. All I want is to get away from you, but I never know how. Every morning, I wake up, and you hit me. All throughout the day, you steal my air and my energy and my ability. Every night, you torment me, tease me with your never-ending presence, taunting me with your forever-ness.

You have taken so much, and try as I might to not, I do hold that against you. I miss my friends. I miss handling loads of schoolwork. I miss having a job. I miss exercising. I miss standing strong. It's like every day, you just keep taking. You are never satisfied, are you? When will you stop? When I can't walk anymore? When I am so debilitated I can't get out of bed to use the bathroom? Or when I simply can't breathe anymore?

You know, I used to have big dreams. And yeah, I still have them, but it's a lot harder to dream with you around. How am I supposed to set goals for tomorrow when I can't find the strength to do anything today? How am I supposed to get excited for the future when I know that you could follow me there?

...

It's 2 a.m., and I'm crying and panicking, because you are this dark shadow hanging over me, closing in and suffocating me. And you're a poison on the inside, seeping into my bones and coursing through my blood stream.

I'm tired of all of this. I'm tired of being sick, of being tired, of having you around. You are limiting and awful and hard to handle in every way. I try and I try and I try to handle you well, and it's like every time I finally feel like I'm getting there, you throw another curve ball at me, and everything spins into a life-tornado again.

You have robbed me of so much, and I hate that I cannot take anything back from you.

But you know what else? Chronic pain, you can't have me. You, illness, are not going to destroy me. You're trying, and most days, I feel defeated, but deep down, I still feel a few ounces of hope that one day I will rise up again and defeat you.

I want to be mad at you - and some days, like tonight, I am. I hate you, and I'm fighting against you as hard as my frail body and heart can fight. But I also stand on the promise that the God I serve is bigger than you, and I don't have to be afraid.

See, you do not control my life - He does. And right now, He's letting you in and maybe giving you some space for a while. Maybe one day He'll reign you back in and send you away, and I'll be able to truly live the way I want to again. But I guess the bigger truth is you have tried to steal my life, and I don't think you're going to stop trying. But you can't have it. It's mine, and I'm going to keep showing up for it, no matter what you say.