How Anxiety is Affecting My Marriage
get ready for a vulnerability post. brene brown if you are reading this, please be proud of me.
about a year and a half ago (how on earth was it that long ago!?) i wrote about my struggles and my war with anxiety. i saw a therapist individually and then my husband agreed to come to a session to talk about his feelings that it was was starting to tear our marriage apart. i still cry when i reread those posts because it makes me sad/angry/anxious that i’m still fighting a war with anxiety and that anxiety is affecting my marriage. i also tear up reading the comments and emails of support because it makes me feel less alone so thanks friends.
i understand that many people feel as though ‘time flies’ and ‘wow how is it already 2015?!’ but i feel this on a deeper, sadder level. 2013 and 2014 were total mind blowing years for me. i traveled to more than 115 cities with my husband (including cities in moscow, malaysia, thailand, china) and it was incredible and yet very hard to cope with it all.
part of my coping mechanism to help deal with my anxiety, is to disengage with reality. i don’t mean that i frolic off in my mind to some happy, trippy state but rather that i remove my presence of mind from the situation. i play distraction games in my head like “i’m not really sitting on an airplane for 14 hours to china,” or that “it’s all fake and it’s not really my life” so i can get through it. i function like a normal human and if we had a conversation, you probably would think everything is fine…and a good portion of it is because my anxiety isn’t bubbling over.
however, the cost of not having my anxiety bubble over is that i have to step a few layers back from the reality of the overwhelming situation that i’m in. this is what caused me to feel as though 2013 and 2014 literally flew by; it was because i wasn’t “here” for most of it. that makes me sad and embarrassed to admit.
in brene brown’s book “the gift of imperfections,” she writes about that if you block out anxiety or grief or shame, you are inevitably blocking out joy and happiness and acceptance. our brains can’t just numb out the bad feelings and only feel the good…it’s an all or nothing game. it was through reading that last year that i realized this is exactly what is happening in my life.
it was scary to realize this is what is happening but i also felt relief that i better understood why time was passing so quickly. it’s because i haven’t been here to fully experience it.
when i told this to my husband, i could see the sadness in his eyes. he said,
“well, that isn’t good. what can i do to help you because we are living an incredible life together and i don’t want you to miss it.”
then i cried (because that’s just what i do). i told him that i would have to start experiencing my full range of emotions again and that would include feeling my anxiety.
as much as i’d like to think that dealing with having an anxious mind only takes a toll on me but anxiety is affecting my marriage and my husband’s life too.
part of feeling all the feelings is that there have been really amazing days and really tough days. there are days when i feel i have to be sequestered in our room because i just can’t deal or be very kind.
sometimes anxiety makes me say things to my husband which makes him question his own dreams and goals. because they freak the hell out of me (and i say so), it makes him feel like maybe they aren’t attainable. i should never be that person to make him question what he’s doing or what he’s capable of so things need to change.
anxiety sucks up a lot of his time because it requires a lot of “pep talks” and “everything will be okay” talks. i’m working on getting a better handle on this because it does not need to consume both of us. my husband only wants for me to feel happy and at peace with life.
at the same time, i’ve been dealing with this since the beginning of our relationship and it’s exhausting for us both. his support and encouragement is unwavering but he has started to challenge me to try to find new ways to relieve some of the anxiety and better coping mechanisms.
some days these challenges motivative me and i push past it. other days i have to express to him that i need a hug and to just be left alone. it’s tricky, but we are working on it.
i try to remind myself that i’m capable (my friend beki painted this for me as a reminder).
on the flip side, through the process of being more present, i am experiencing more joy and contentment in life. my days are starting to feel longer because i’ve actually been aware they are happening. i’m feeling more hopeful that anxiety won’t have the ring-side seat in our lives forever because i’ve got too many better things planned.
i am thankful to have a partner in life that supports me but doesn’t let me off the hook either.
read here for 7 things that i’ve been doing to feel more present and how i’ve been getting better at managing my anxiety without medication.