Anxiety, I believe, is the root of all negative thoughts. Self-pity, self-deprecation, insecurity, regret… These are all the children of anxiety. It can make you question reality. It can convince you to believe the biggest lies. It is the compelling desire to know everything all at once, to be certain of something or someone, including yourself.
Sometimes, you don’t realize that it’s anxiety that caused you to believe the wrong thing. For a time, I gave it power without my knowing. In my case, anxiety was at its peak when I was dating someone. I didn’t realize until later that the reason behind that could be traced back to one past experience that became a pivotal point in my life.
Let’s just say really bad shit happened where everyone involved was at fault in one way or another. For a while after that, I didn’t want to be with anyone. I just wanted to go out with my girls, have fun, meet someone, and possibly hook-up.
I denied myself the ability to feel anything for anyone new. It was easier. Even more so, I couldn’t risk getting hurt again. So I did what people did best in these kinds of situations: put up a wall. However, I could only wear that mask for so long.
Wanting to feel nothing was a front to conceal what I truly wanted, and that was to be with someone with whom I felt genuinely happy to be around, and to finally get it right.
And so I met someone. And they were like a fucking breath of fresh air. And then we decide to see each other again. And again. And again. And then I realized I was screwed. Because lo and behold, who comes knocking at my door but that old friend Anxiety.
To be honest, I didn’t recognize it until there were days when I couldn’t breathe and had the urge to cry, or when I would have episodes when my mind was racing with so many questions, typically starting with the words, “But what if…?” followed by a heavy feeling in my chest.
They were moments I considered normal to me, however, it wasn’t until later that I realized these moments would only be triggered if I came across a current situation that reflected an event that happened in the past, particularly connected to that pivotal past experience.
It was as if my mind was telling me that I was reliving it, that history was repeating itself, and what I felt before came flooding back, as if no time had gone by. It wasn’t enough to tell myself to chill. It wasn’t enough to remind myself to breathe. It wasn’t enough to stay busy, or to find something to look forward to in the coming weeks or months.
Sometimes these feelings would be so overwhelming that I would be compelled to act—irrationally, that is. And oftentimes that was when I would do the wrong thing. The impulsiveness I felt was not from logic—but I would justify it however I could to make myself understand how it was the right thing to do.
That’s the tricky part about anxiety. It would mask itself as a voice of reason, and it would eventually push me into doing it. But at the same time, it would berate me for actually doing it if things didn’t turn out the way I had hoped.
Anxiety would convince me that it knew better, and knew more than I did—when in reality, it only knew as much as I did, but it talked better than the best bullshitter I knew. It would conjure up falsehoods. It would manipulate me into believing thoughts and “theories” that had no bearing in reality.
Anxiety is cruel. And it is a form of self-mutilation where the scars aren’t necessarily physical, but psychological.
Dealing with my anxiety is still a struggle, but it is no longer as troubling as before. Some days are harder than others, and mornings can be difficult. Fun fact, I even tried counseling for a week but that never got me anywhere close to where I am now (but if you truly feel the need to ask for help, you shouldn’t be afraid to admit that you do). I only speak for myself in that sense.
More than that, I prayed… a motherload. Now, it is so much easier for me to discern which is reason, and which is anxiety—more often than not, any perceived thought that leaves a sick feeling to your stomach is the bad seed.
So the question now is, where does this leave me? Well, I’ve decided to take it one day at a time. Just because I’ve figured myself out doesn’t guarantee that I will never have another bout of anxiety. I’m also not actively looking for someone to date at the moment, because I still need to get myself sorted out.
The time I’ve had without distractions has done me pretty good, and I don’t regret how I’ve spent my time alone. I can’t undo what I did. This may or may not be a way to make amends. But I just felt like this was worth sharing.
I know I’m not the only one who has ever experienced this. However, please know that you cannot allow your past to dictate your future. Do your utmost not to act out of fear. Whenever you feel like you are compelled to do something impulsive, out of the ordinary, ask yourself if you would be acting out of fear, or out of reason. It will never be both. One will always overshadow the other, no matter how you look at it. Don’t do what I did. It will never be something I can take back, and I have come to terms with it.
So now I’m hoping for the best. Hope. Now that’s another powerful thing. “But what if—?” Nope. Not today, anxiety. Not today.