My anxiety convinces me that flirtatious banter is never going to turn into a serious relationship. Someone could be giving me a million signs that they’re interested, but I’ll assume they’re secretly stringing me along. I’ll assume they only want to use me. I’ll assume they are playing some sort of trick on me.
Instead of sticking around to see whether their feelings are authentic, I’ll close off my heart before they can break it. I’ll stop answering text messages out of nowhere. I’ll stop acting so excited to see them. I’ll refuse to wear my heart on my sleeve, to admit how I feel about them, to give them ammunition to tear me apart.
My mind plays tricks on me when it comes to my friendships, too. It doesn’t matter how well someone treats me. My brain will pick up on the smallest shifts in their behavior, the tiniest indications that they’re annoyed by me.
Even if someone invites me out to a party, I won’t believe they actually want me to show up. My brain will twists truths, convincing me they only invited me to be polite. They don’t actually want me to tag along. They wouldn’t actually miss me if I stayed home.
I do the same thing with text messages. I’ll think about getting in touch with a friend — but then I worry I’ll be bothering them. I’ll worry it’ll be a bad time. I’ll worry they won’t answer me.
Instead of reaching out to them to remind them how much they mean to me, I’ll keep quiet. I’ll keep to myself. I’ll keep my distance.
My anxiety makes it hard to build new relationships because my guard is up too high for me to see clearly. I can’t tell the difference between someone who is going to hurt me and someone who is always going to be there for me. In my mind, everyone is the same. Everyone has the potential to shatter my heart into pieces.
Of course, it has nothing to do with them. I don’t think the people surrounding me are liars or cheaters or manipulators. I don’t think they would set out to hurt me on purpose. I don’t think they’re that cruel.
The problem is with myself. I’m worried I’m not worth their effort.
I’m worried they’ll wake up one day and realize hanging out with me is more stress than it’s worth.
I’m worried everyone is going to leave because my anxiety convinces me they have no reason to stay.
I don’t mean to cut myself off from the world. I don’t mean to spend so much time on my own. I don’t mean to ignore texts or go months without hanging out with someone who matters to me.
I’m not trying to push other people away — but my anxiety makes it hard to keep them close. It makes it hard to show the world how much I care because it feels like caring always gets me in trouble.