I have an anxiety disorder. I am in a relationship. These two things do not seem as if they should be mutually exclusive correct? That is to say – I should be able to have both things at the same time. Sounds simple enough. The truth though, is much much more complicated.
I am in a relationship with the most wonderful person I have ever met. She is patient. She is kind. She makes me laugh more than anyone ever has. I feel completely safe in her arms. Everything should be perfect. But this is where anxiety decides to butt in and make things difficult for both of us.
I am not myself. It is as I have two personalities – one that is fun, carefree, and more than anything, confident and one that is insecure, oversensitive, tense, scared, and clingy. The instant I start to feel anything for someone, my brain and my body panic and pulls the old switcheroo on me and the confident girl is replaced by the insecure girl. You can see how this would be frustrating.
Truthfully, I am not insecure in any other aspect of my life. So why then, am I afraid that every single thing I do is making me less attractive to my girlfriend? Why am I afraid that every second of every day I am screwing my relationship up? No matter what I do, I feel like I am becoming less and less of the girl my girlfriend thought she was getting. Every day I wonder “will today be the day she realizes I am not all I was cracked up to be?” No matter how many times she tells me she likes me for who I am, there is a little voice in my head telling me over and over again, you screwed up.
I over-analyze everything. This is the part that really messes me up. Every single thing my girlfriend says goes straight to the anxious interpreter waiting inside my head to be processed so it can tell me what she really means. Let me repeat that. My girlfriend tells me something, my brain tells me it is a lie and says, “Here, let me help you out. This is the horrible thing she really meant. So glad I could clear that up for you.” Thanks, brain. Don’t know what I would do without you.
Getting annoyed with me yet? You bet your bottom I’m annoyed with myself by now. This is where the fun really begins.
This is the part where I get to get mad at my girlfriend because MY BRAIN TOLD ME WHAT YOU REALLY MEANT AND I AM REALLY UPSET ABOUT WHAT YOU DIDN’T ACTUALLY SAY. Aren’t I so much fun?
Oh and after I get mad at her, I am extremely sorry I got mad at her. I tell her this at least 975 times. Then ask her about 467 more times if she is mad at me. If she wasn’t before, she is most certainly annoyed with me now. Commence apology cycle once more.
Exhausted yet? We are.
This is what it feels like to have anxiety in a relationship. Day in and day out, I am thinking of the way my actions effect her. I worry that what she is saying to me is what I want to hear rather than the truth and so I try to explain to her why she can’t possibly be telling the truth. Then I apologize for being so irrational while inside my head I am destroying myself for being so stupid.
“Why are you like this?” “Why can’t you just get it together?” “Can you just be normal for five seconds?”
Over and over again I ask myself these questions. Over and over again I push myself into the dirt and beat myself to a bloody pulp because I cannot control the thoughts in my brain.
I cannot convince myself that everything is fine a thousand times a day.
I cannot feel okay when there is a constant voice inside of me screaming that I shouldn’t be, that I’m not, that we are not okay.