To The Person I Date Next, This Is What I’d Like You To Know About My Anxiety

 MICKI
MICKI

It’s something you won’t realize in the beginning. Anyone who suffers from anxiety does their best to hide that they have it.

You might notice in the beginning, nervous habits like picking or tapping. You might see me double and triple check in the mirror, it isn’t out of a sense of cockiness but more fixating upon flaws that I see you might not notice. I’ll quietly take in every compliment you give me. What you won’t see is I won’t believe what you say sometimes. In time, you’ll learn every insecurity I have. You’ll learn no matter how many times you counter what I think of myself it will take a while for me to myself through your eyes. Just be patient with me.

What you’ll notice first is how guarded I am. You might wonder why I’m doubting you, it’s not you as it is I fear the past repeating itself. I know I shouldn’t judge you for other people’s mistakes or the things they’ve done wrong but I’m trying desperately to avoid getting hurt.

People who are that guarded are that way for a reason.

At first, you’ll notice how I push you away. Maybe you got too close. Maybe I told you too much. Maybe I’m not answering a text and you don’t know why. I fear people leaving that sometimes I try and beat them to it.

I look at vulnerability within myself as a weakness because there are people in my past who have used it against me.

You’ll watch me smile and be polite as you introduce me to someone you say is just a friend but whether I’d like to or not my mind is already racing wondering about your history.

What you’ll see is how punctual I am. If you ask me to be somewhere, I’ll be there ten minutes early. You might notice if we’re late, I’ll check my watch multiple times. I won’t say anything but you’ll be able to sense I’m a bit stressed over it.

At first, you’ll notice me as I answer every text quickly or respond to things across social media fast. What you won’t see is me sitting by my phone thinking about what to say and how to say it. You won’t see me second guessing things and wondering if what I did or said was wrong.

What you’ll hear are many apologies for things that haven’t even crossed your mind. You might wonder why I’m saying sorry. I ask you to just accept the apology whether you understand why or not.

As you get to know me, you’ll learn about my irrational fears. You’ll hear me say the words, ‘what if,’ too often as I make up scenarios. I know I’m overthinking this. I know it’s unrealistic but there are times when you might just have to listen.

In the beginning, you might look at me as someone who is organized with schedules and calendars but for me, I need that structure. I’m not spontaneous. I don’t just get up and leave and go somewhere without a plan. And even when I make a plan, in my mind I think about every possible scenario that can go wrong, just so I’m prepared. Maybe you’re opposite. I really hope you are. It’d be a good balance for me.

In the beginning, you’ll notice I’m quiet around your friends. You might take me to a party where I watch in the background. What you’ll come to learn about me are the different personalities I have in different settings. Over time, that will change it just takes the time to get there. Patience is a word I can’t say enough.

I’m going to try too hard to win people over, I know I do. Maybe I even overcompensated with you from the start.

And while everything I do comes from a genuine place it too comes from a place of insecurity and feeling I need to do something to show you I care.

And even then I’m never going to think it’s enough so I’ll try harder.

The thing about people with anxiety, we want more than anything to be liked and accepted in ways we are still trying to like and accept ourselves.

In time, you’ll learn exactly how long it takes me to fall asleep. Even if you have already, I’ll probably be lying there awake thinking about something. I struggle to live in the moment. I worry about the future and I still haven’t forgiven myself for the past. As I trust you, I’ll tell you about the mistakes I’ve made and the things I’ve done wrong and the people I’ve hurt. You’ll hear the sorrow in my tone every time.

In the beginning, you might be impressed by all I do and the many things I’ve accomplished. Maybe that’s what you like about me.

But you’ll come to learn as much as I want to do well, I’m driven by the fear of failure.

I am so afraid of failing that I have no choice but to succeed.

As you get to know me more, you’ll watch me make mistakes and as hard as anyone can be I’ll be ten times harder on myself. I’ll beat myself up over little things. When that happens the best thing you can do is try and reassure me this isn’t the end of the world.

But I’m a perfectionist. I hold myself to standards that sometimes are unattainable.

I’m painfully driven. I put my goals and my career above everyone and everything. It’s led to success but with many sacrifices. Sacrifices that include not putting a relationship first and it’s led to endings that broke me. With enough time, what you’ll see is as much as I put into the things I do, I’ll put that same effort into a relationship when it’s the right one. I’m good at relationships when I get it right.

When someone with anxiety gets a relationship right what happens is it becomes a really healthy relationship.
Yeah, I might try too hard sometimes but there isn’t anyone who will treat you better.
Yeah, I might question you sometimes but there isn’t anyone who will be more loyal.
Yeah, I might get worked up over something stupid but it’s because I care.
People with anxiety care more about others than they do themselves.
Yeah, I might take on too much sometimes but my drive and the need for success will challenge you to step up your own game.
Yeah, I might overthink things but when holidays and birthdays come around, there isn’t anyone who has put as much thought into a gift.
Yeah, I might break down sometimes but my resilience and ability to bounce back from things will inspire you.
Yeah, I might apologize too much but I will never intentionally hurt you because doing so hurts me too.
And yeah, it might take me a while to trust you but once I do you’ll understand why the best people in life are the most complicated.
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Kirsten Corley

Kirsten is the author of But Before You Leave, a book of poetry about the experiences we struggle to put into words.

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