My partner is someone who I love very much, and is someone I have had to work tirelessly with to improve our relationship. When I hear about the law of attraction or other like-attracts-like philosophies, this was certainly true of mine and his state entering this relationship three years ago. Both similarly jaded, similar appearance, and similar personalities (for better or for worse), we each had similar bad relationship habits and similar historical family problems. There were countless things that had to be in sync in order for us to ever have crossed paths, and even though in difficult moments I find it hard to believe, I think we were meant to find each other.
Our relationship has not been without problems, though presently there are far fewer than there were at the beginning. Jealousy, anger, and a struggle for power defined us for a long time. The worst external factor to our relationship has been his parents. I love them, but they are toxic. They display all of the symptoms of adult children of alcoholics, and though I love them dearly, I prefer to stay at a safe distance from them. Intentional attempted sabotage, financial ruin, and general family drama are just a few of their influences we have survived along the way. In the end we have learned our lessons… but there have been unexpected repercussions as a result of these struggles.
Anxiety, can we even define it? I will resist actually checking a dictionary and contemplate the word on my own. Anxiety to me is a horrible feeling that develops in the stomach and spreads throughout the body, sometimes resulting in paralysis. It is an initiator to countless other negative emotions and thoughts. It is a catalyst to worrisome brain storming. Anxiety strips us of belief in ourselves or other people. Anxiety shows itself through emotional, metal and physical symptoms. Difficult to define, difficult to pin down… and difficult to overcome.
I think I have struggled with anxiety for most of my life. I have been a habitual people-pleaser, a goody-two-shoes. I always find myself wondering where I stand with other people, generally assuming the worst. I defend myself with a hard no-care shell, and have lost touch with what it means to truly ‘be myself.’ My partner was secretive, overly emotional, and rebellious. Both of us are angry. We habitually don’t give ourselves enough credit, experience regular self-loathing, perfectionism, and spend too much time in our own heads.
My true self is someone of a positive, idealistic, optimistic attitude. I love life and people. I love great conversation, indulging in delicious food and drink. I love the arts and crafting. I love gardens and nature. I love physically exerting myself in work or sport. I am an ambitious over-achiever, love being on the go, but have to remember not to burn the candle at both ends. My partner is endlessly caring and compassionate. He has a child-like sense of humour, loves physical exercise, loves projects of all sorts and seeing them through to the end. He is ambitious and strives for success.
Unfortunately these split personalities are all of who we are. Anxiety creeps through our true selves and hinders our real expression. It is a constant battle that is sometimes not even seen by our own eyes. The beginning of our relationship and those negative experiences with his parents compounded on past experiences to double our anxiety levels. I never really realized it was happening. Michael all of a sudden was unable to work or do anything. He existed solely through escapism and secrets. I found myself more angry than ever, searching outwards for a solution to my uneasiness through art and walking. Our relationship was shameful.
A dramatic and intentional shift of circumstances and events improved both of our anxiety levels dramatically, but somehow there is a reservoir that exists below the surface, sometimes lapping up on the shores of our consciousness. We always have just enough to get by, but I worry that this is because we fear only ever getting by, so that is how we exist. I have been at home with my baby for nearly 14 months, and feel incapable of any job, as though my university education is only enough for me to be worthy of washing dishes or scrubbing toilets. I feel utterly useless, as if my personality could not fit any opportunity and I would surely fail.
Sometimes I find myself sitting for an hour, checking facebook, then twitter, then facebook, then email, then my online bank, then facebook, then twitter. I stop for a moment only to consume junk food. Maybe send a text message. Then find myself on facebook again. I long to be out of the house, but have no where to go and no money to spend. I am in a house with absolutely no furniture except for a folding chair, a trunk, and a mattress, where majority of my belongings still exist in cardboard boxes. I am so thankful for our new place, but feel as though I am floating in nothingness. My brain is a philosophical mess.
When I step back from myself for a brief moment, I ask myself, what is this? What is this feeling and where did it come from? and the answer is always the same. Various labels for the same root: anxiety. I resent his parents for deepening our relationship with anxiety. I resent myself for participating in the dance for so long.
If I could do it again I would hold myself to a few rules. Follow your gut, don’t allow another’s need to learn the hard way impact your life’s circumstances. Do not waste your time explaining yourself or engaging in any way with toxic people. Pick your battles, and fight to understand, not to win. Sometimes it’s okay to give-up, stubbornness is sometimes useful, but not always. Watch your life from afar, and look out for evidence of self-sabotage. Your time, your life, your experience is valuable. Don’t sell yourself short, don’t settle for “not that bad”. You deserve the best, and until you believe that, no one will respect you that way either.
I don’t know where the drain is in my reservoir of anxiety. I am always learning, and for now I will wade to the shore and avoid falling in.