I have entered into a new phase of life. One that excites me, and scares me. One that leaves me filled with hope and joy when I wake up, and before I drift to sleep at night. New love is such a beautiful experience, but this one, this feels different. This one feels real.
But despite the butterflies, and the “I miss you mores,” and the talk of a future that I just can’t wait to get to, I do have challenges to overcome. Let me tell you a little bit about my experience of what it’s like to fall in love when you have anxiety. Maybe you can relate? Or maybe you can offer some words of wisdom on how to deal with this.
Nothing is better than the feeling of love. It can be blissful, and inspiring. It can fill you with excitement for planning and building the prospective life you want with someone else. But here’s the thing about my anxiety – it tells me that all of it is untrue.
Here are some of the lies that my anxiety likes to tell me everyday:
You don’t deserve this
This is a huge one that I struggle with all the time. Not only when it comes to my relationship, but also as it relates to my job, life successes, happiness in general. If you find yourself searching for “I’m enough” inspirational quotes, and TED Talks by social psychologists, then you might know exactly what I mean.
I like to believe that I generally have good self-esteem. I know that when I assess myself rationally, I conclude that I’m a smart, successful, beautiful, strong woman. But it’s the irrational mind chatter that likes to drown out my voice of reason. “But you aren’t that great. And you aren’t that successful. And you aren’t really that pretty. And you could be thinner. And maybe if you were nicer. And you should think about being more thoughtful, too…”
I don’t understand where these thoughts come from and why they are so persistent. Why do I believe I am unlovable? Why do I think I’m not good enough? And how do I get rid of this internal dialogue?
It won’t last forever
I have huge commitment anxiety. It’s not that I can’t commit, but I’m afraid that the other person can’t. I’m afraid that I will put my entire heart and soul and life on the line and that one day the person will decide that it’s not enough. That I’m not enough. (*Notice the pattern forming here?*) The amount of happiness that I keep myself from experiencing because I am worrying about what next week, month, year will bring is terrible. I want to live in the moment because I’m tired of my fear placing a ceiling on my ability to feel and express love.
Note to self: start mindfulness studies and meditation again, stat.
It’s too good to be true
I hate to be wrong. I like to make informed decisions. I like to gather facts and data. I’m analytical. Strategic. Calculated. But it’s hard to do that in a relationship. There’s no scientific formula to tell you whether you’re a perfect match, or whether you’re going to be heartbroken, or disappointed, or fooled. There’s no way to know what is going on in the other person’s mind and heart.
Love = Trust = Vulnerability
This makes me incredibly uncomfortable. A life of hard lessons has made me cautious and even fearful when things seem too good. My anxiety spends a lot of time reminding me of this. This may sound a lot like “it won’t last forever,” except that the fear is not of being left. It’s about realizing that I was wrong about someone… again.
So tell me, how does one navigate relationship anxiety? How do you alter your self-talk to make it one of encouragement and support? How do you keep your anxious mind from being a thief of today’s joy?
If you have any suggestions, I’m all ears, darlings.