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Dear Love, Meet My Anxiety

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I want you to meet someone. Actually, you need to meet It because, without knowing it, you experienced It yesterday and It made a solid attempt at ruining our relationship.

I want you to meet MyAnxious. MyAnxious is similar to a very fearful 5-year-old that throws temper tantrums and cannot be in control. It is a voice in my head that tells me horrible things such as: “You’re fat, and ugly, and unlovable, and difficult and hated by the people you love the most, and everyone will leave you,” and “This error, this little thing is really a big failure and you’re a failure and people are better off alone than with you.”

MyAnxious is a big-time asshole and It is a negativity filter that turns what people say into other things. It is the embodiment of my fear when it takes over.

MyAnxious is panic and uncontrollable crying and stomach aches and headaches and yelling and pushing people away.

When I was a kid, a littler version of me, my parents thought I had asthma when MyAnxious was present. It wasn’t asthma — my inability to breathe or hold it together were really panic attacks caused by MyAnxious every time bad things happened or when I was tired and overwhelmed.

I didn’t know MyAnxious until a very loving, amazing someone — MyMelysa — faced it head on, told me about It and told It to fuck off.

MyMelysa taught me that MyAnxious exists and it must be my life’s work to keep it contained, in harmonious control, and turn it into something good — turn it into love. MyMelysa also taught me what MyAnxious looks like and how it behaves: It gets scared, so It becomes scary. It needs validation but cannot ask for it, so It pushes away. It needs a hand to hold, but It is too afraid and confused, so It walks or runs away (literally). It is afraid of hurting people I love but cannot say that, so It tells people I love that they’re better off without me, that I should leave or be left, that they deserve to be happy without me.

MyAnxious yells and cries and cannot hear what people are really saying — It is a poor translator. When you say, “This and this has happened in my family and I’m afraid of making the same mistake. I’m scared of what happened,” MyAnxious instead says to me, “Because this happened in my family, you and your body can ruin me, the man I want to be and my future. I’m scared of you and what you caused.”

MyAnxious is loud and mean and cruel and persistent. Hence, It blocks my ability to make good decisions and instead, repeats “I’m bad and a failure and bad for MyLove and OurRelationship.” MyAnxious makes me believe the kind thing to do is to set MyLove free from Me and help Him break-up with Me. It tells me I don’t deserve MyLove and I will only hurt MyLove and cannot possibly make MyLove happy.

MyAnxious says these things out loud and hurts people I love. MyAnxious is afraid of being seen, so it hides in words that don’t make sense and ultimatums and hurtful things, so that It can be left alone in Its darkness.

MyMelysa, the loving genius that she is, uncovered things that make MyAnxious quiet down and go away. MyAnxious quiets down with forceful hugs because It needs containment, otherwise It blows up and spreads everywhere. MyAnxious quiets down with hot cups of tea and the smell of lavender, long showers and listening to the same upbeat song loudly on repeat. MyAnxious goes away when it is uncovered and told, “Hey, I know you’re here. Go away. I love you, It included, and you are going to be OK.”

MyAnxious quiets down with back rubs and weighted blankets and sitting in small spaces that make Me feel safe again. MyAnxious hates breathing, but needs big long breaths (with inflated cheeks) to slowly walk away and leave Me to be. MyAnxious, as persistent as It is, tries to destroy my relationships and sometimes It succeeds.

MyAnxious is the fear, darkness and pain I haven’t worked through yet. MyAnxious likes alcohol and drugs because they can enlarge It and make It louder and less controllable. MyAnxious dislikes water and exercise because they push it far away. MyAnxious is confusing and horrible and It makes me more complex and difficult than I wish to be.

However, living with MyAnxious makes me someone who will be a great partner and mother someday. Living and learning to love MyAnxious has made me resilient and brave and more patient than I seem, good at treating “difficult people” and good at loving people for who they really are, darkness and all.

I love you, MyLove, and MyAnxious is afraid of you and the power your love has. I’m so sorry you had to meet It, in Its worse and largest form, and I’m sorry It hurt you on my behalf. I take responsibility for MyAnxious because It cannot take responsibility for itself. I love you and I work every day to make MyAnxious quieter, especially around you. Sometimes It beats me and I hope to God you can help me when It tries to destroy what’s good in my life. I hope that, knowing MyAnxious, you still decide to stay.

Because I know, and am, a more powerful and strong love than most people know. MyAnxious is only a little part of me, not who I am.

I am in awe that I deserve you, MyLove, and that you exist. And that you show up and stay.

Thank you for seeing me and helping me.

I love you, wholeheartedly and truly.

Please know this is really true, unlike the thoughts and words MyAnxious comes up with. I am louder and better than MyAnxious; and you, MyLove, are beautiful and good and a huge blessing.

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Unsplash photo via Sweet Ice Cream Photography

Originally published: February 5, 2018
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