I recently wrote an article for elephant journal titled How It Feels To Have Anxiety In A Relationship.
It was a particularly challenging and cathartic piece to write, since I had to revisit long-buried painful memories and pry open past (and present) insecurities.
I wasn’t sure how readers would respond, or whether they’d respond at all. But they did, and it’s quite honestly been the most beautifully connecting experience.
You see, it’s difficult to articulate the crippling nature of anxiety to those who don’t suffer it, and almost impossible to understand or overcome it for those of us who do. The sad truth is, I’m not sure anxiety is something that can be ultimately broken past. I think it lives within us; and will continue to do so, on different levels, until the day we die.
That’s not to say, however, that it can’t be tamed or silenced.
When it comes to love, I believe our anxieties tend to be anchored in the perception of time—the notion that we’re each here for one lifetime, and the inherent fear of living it alone. I suppose it could be surmised in the human fear of uncertainty, namely: they might love us now, but will they love us tomorrow?
We tend to attach overbearing expectations to our relationships from within the confines of a perceived timeline, thereby allowing our futures unruly dictatorship over our present.
The result is a chronic sense of heartache which relentlessly threatens the daily joys so readily enjoyed by others; tearing away silently from within. I suppose you could say that we simply have trouble accepting that which could theoretically be taken from us.
As recent news headlines have so tragically reminded us, life is two things: precious and short. We have no real way of knowing how long we’ll be here, or with whom we’ll end up. We only know that we’re here, today… and hopefully with the one we love.
With this pressing mortality in mind, one might conclude that time is too flippant a variable for the equation of love. Relationships should, for the most part, be the most basic of math—a simple two-part sum.
In order to overcome anxiety in our relationships, we must attempt to find the fleeting infinity to each moment. We mustn’t apprehend their arrival, nor acknowledge their passing. We must embrace each one as though it were a snowflake, dancing precariously in the breeze: intricate, fragile and unique in its own immediate beauty.
Too often we focus on the accumulation of time, allowing it the power to validate or trivialize the way we feel.
In our relationships, we tend to become overwhelmed by the big picture when we should really be enjoying each and every glorious pixel.
With our eyes lying so stubbornly on the finish line, we doom ourselves to stumbling over the starting blocks. We must learn and accept that true love isn’t forever, it’s only for now; it’s not the distance we have to travel, it’s the gentle landing of each and ever footstep.
Love will never exist in the future; it will only exist in moments or memories. Each of these are yours to keep, and neither can be taken from you.
Take comfort in the knowledge that you’re not alone, that while your anxieties might feel all-consuming, they only amount to what you let them.
Understand that anxiety in your relationship doesn’t devalue your love—rather, it pays testimonial to the strength of it. After all, love and fear stand as the two core pillars to the one emotional pendulum; the more we love, the more we fear our losing it.
The higher we fly, the further we have to fall.
It’s natural, it’s gravity.
The sense of panic you feel is, in a way, precious. It’s there to remind you that what you have is rare and deserves to be treasured. So treasure it. Don’t resent it, don’t fight it. It’s the most deadly of proverbial quicksands, and the more you move, the deeper you’ll sink.
Be still, be calm.
Focus on what you know to be true, and read the following as your new relationship mantra:
They might not love you tomorrow, but that’s okay. Because you’ll never exist in tomorrow. You’ll only ever exist in today.
And today they love you.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard