The First Time I Let My Partner See My Anxiety

A young blonde woman sitting on a windowsill and looking out the window in Seoul
Alexandre Chambon / Unsplash

When I felt defeated, someone reminded me I am far from over.

I opened up about my anxiety to my partner, and here’s what happened.

Anxiety is scary in itself, let alone coupled with the prospect of sharing all that fear, doubt, regret, anger and frustration with your partner. However, talking about those feelings of anxiousness or moments of weakness will serve to benefit your relationship as a whole and you as an individual.

God, doesn’t that sound like something ripped out of a freaking Psychology Today magazine. I mean, I wrote that, but mostly because isn’t that how all of those articles begin? Give me a break; anxiety is freaking hard to deal with because it rears so many ugly heads and you never know when it’s going to strike. Ten-minute trips to the grocery store for milk, hours stuck in traffic or laying in bed post-sex with my partner, my anxiety has no rhyme or reason and it freaking sucks.

But, overly cynical paragraph aside, I realize I need to start dealing with my anxiety, starting by not ignoring how I feel and actively sharing with the person who has captured my heart. I need to recognize him as a support system and allow him to help me through these rough times, however disjointed or repetitive or fucking confusing they may be.

The other night I was laying down as my boyfriend got ready for bed. I was thinking about the week ahead and suddenly became overwhelmed by what felt like a tsunami of nerves. I was nervous about everything, from missing my train the next morning to where our relationship was going to be three years down the road. I tried to close my eyes and convince myself my thoughts were stupid and too far in the future, but the more I attempted to talk myself out of my own head, the deeper down the rabbit hole I fell.

I finally broke down, tears streaming down my face as I spurted out worry after worry. I became enraged at some points, clutching my blanket tighter and tighter towards my chest. The more overcome with anxiety I feel, the more I noticed my hands gravitating toward my mouth, as if to shut out the skepticism and rage. I could tell by his eyes he didn’t know how to respond, and later when we got to talking he admitted feeling guilty for not finding the “right” words or advice for me. I explained to him: Sometimes all it takes, all I need, is someone to listen.

I shared with him feelings of self-deprecation, failure and defeat I had previously kept hidden. I opened up about my relationship with my parents and emotional turmoil stemming from brief, recent interactions with them. Although I was talking, it felt like I was going in circles, and I didn’t really understand how to make any progress. The second I started to feel better was when I decided to just speak, to let the words flow and not worry about sounding stupid, victimized or broken. I recognize it takes a significant amount of trust to feel comfortable and safe enough with someone to share as much as I did, but I also knew it was time to take the emotional leap. You can’t let the fear of falling keep you from flying.

He was there for me. He held me and let me cry, listened to every fumbled sentence, nervous stutter or critical statement that came out. He looked at me with loving eyes, listened with unjudging ears, held me with protecting arms and said the five words that mattered most, “It’s going to be okay.” Sometimes, that’s all it takes: A few simple words can weigh heaviest on the heart.

Here’s what I learned: However irrational or dumb or vulnerable or plain “wrong” I feel my thoughts or emotions are, they are valid because they exist. They are how I feel right there in that moment, and potentially the most valuable thing a partner can give you is not advice or instant gratification, but a gentle hand on your cheek and a shoulder to lean on. I learned to not be afraid of letting him see the side of me that wasn’t perfect, emotionally-sound or put together. It’s okay not to be happy and smiling and full of joy every second of your life. However, the most important thing to never lose is hope, and the feeling of knowing through your courage and willingness to share yourself, you will persevere.

In life, it’s hard to keep both hands on the wheel, especially when you feel like you’re dropping things left and right. My partner taught me it’s okay to let someone help you steer, even just for a moment. It’s also okay to pull the car over, take the key out of the ignition, and just breathe. TC mark

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