I’ve always been an anxious person, but I used to love getting that pit in my stomach or feeling my heart race when I was excited or nervous about something — it made me feel alive. But at some point, that anxious feeling turned into full-blown anxiety, and it’s managed to ruin every significant relationship in my life. When I finally found the one guy I’d been looking for my whole life, my inability to cope meant I lost him completely. Here’s how:
- Enjoying the moment was impossible. My brain was constantly running in overdrive and I couldn’t turn it off. There were moments where I thought how amazing this guy was, and how I should take it all in and enjoy it, but I couldn’t live in the moment because I was so concerned about the next moment. When was the next moment going to happen? Was there going to be another moment? Was this the last one?! It was so hard for me to let go and enjoy him that I ended up living in the pretend future, hoping that I would have more moments with him not realizing how special the present one was.
- I became a pessimist. The rug is always going to be pulled out from under me — this is what I thought about everything. At any moment, he was going to ghost me or all of the sudden he would change into this person I created in my head. I know people aren’t perfect (God knows I’m not), but I expected him to be. I would only look at his negative qualities and couldn’t see the any of his positive ones. I made up the most random excuses to make him seem not as perfect as I wanted him to be.
- My past relationships affected this one. A lot of my anxiety has stemmed from years of failed relationships. Whether they ended on good terms or bad, I carried all of those problems and insecurities into my brand new relationship and weighed it down without even knowing it because I was thinking the same thing was going to happen. I was so afraid of my past repeating itself, I made exactly that happen.
- I overanalyzed everything. I could never turn my brain off. Every thought I had traveled from every crevice of my brain, picking up every emotion and natural disaster it could before landing in an imaginary world where fake problems existed. I began to feel my chest get tight over a problem that didn’t actually exist in real life. I would begin to formulate solutions for a conversation between he and I that only existed in my head.
- Everything was a worst-case scenario. Anxiety doesn’t make you logical. My mind was constantly filled with negative thoughts and worst case scenarios. I would hope for the best but really, truly feel like the worst was the only option I had and that it was the only option I thought I deserved. I thought if I did this, I wouldn’t be disappointed if my happily ever after never came to fruition.
- I was irrational and emotionally detached. My friends tried their best to calm my nerves and tame my anxiety. I knew they thought I was crazy and completely irrational. I would go on and on about this non-existent problem I thought was happening and they would smile, hug me and tell me it was going to be OK. Secretly, I know they were worried about my sanity. I would obsess about every little thing, but I would never tell him. I didn’t want him to see how vulnerable I was, which made me seem distant and cold. I was holding everything in waiting for him to figure out I wasn’t the “cool girl” but the scared girl hiding in the corner.
- I acted out of fear. My fight-or-flight reaction affected my ability to be a whole person in a relationship. No matter how much I liked him, I would let the fear of losing him dominate my mind, which made it hard to fall in love or even trust him. I wanted so badly to tell him I was in love with him, but I couldn’t. I was stuck in this place where I was afraid to do the wrong thing or say the wrong thing, fearful he didn’t love me back or would leave. My anxiety made me fearful that I wasn’t enough.
- I needed constant validation. It wasn’t like I fell into his arms and said, “Tell me I’m pretty!” but I needed to know where we stood any time I was worried or scared. I wanted to know he wasn’t going to leave if there was a problem or if I told him about my anxiety. My insecurity about my anxiety made me insecure in the solidarity of our relationship. My inability to tell him and trust him made it hard for him to love me.
- I couldn’t trust in the process. One of my friends once said, “Everyone has baggage, but I only want carry on.” I remember laughing at her and thinking I had never heard a more true statement. We all have things in our past we struggle with, but we can’t let it hinder what great things may come in the future. The unexpected is just that—unexpected. Learning to let go and let love is the only way to give your relationship a chance. If your partner truly wants to make it work, they’ll be understanding of your hesitations and anxiety, but doing your part in trusting them with your heart is half the battle.