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Posted under: Opinion

Cheers To Vulnerability: My Journey Of Overcoming Relationship Anxiety

Have you ever been so afraid of ruining something that, in the midst of that fear, you destroy it?

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As a middle child with some daddy issues, my battle with attachment started early on.

I’m the girl who doesn’t like to kiss on the lips because it’s too affectionate. The girl who has never introduced a man to her family because human-induced happiness is temporary. The girl who is overwhelmingly afraid of sadness so she avoids it at all costs. It’s not the feeling of sadness that scares me, it’s the thought of never being able to recover from it. That fear has controlled much of my life.

I coined myself a serial dater early on; identifying with powerhouse women who didn’t allow their relationship status to define them. I was comfortable that way. I had accepted that I’m not deserving of love in its full form. Instead, I chose to focus on things that were within my scope of control and would ultimately — with enough hard work and dedication — reap exceptional results.

It was winter when I met a man who, without words, sent my anxiety skyrocketing whenever I’d see him. For a few weeks I suppressed my desire to get to know him better, until finally, I asked him on a date. The next day we had lunch, and afterwards, I told my best-friend that I would marry him. I had never said those words about any man, let alone a practical stranger. He went out of town that evening, and for the next few days I thought about him nonstop. I replayed our conversation(s) on a loop, and made mental tabs of things we’d discuss as our relationship grew. Things that I was interested in hearing more about but felt it was too soon. Though, with us, nothing felt too soon.

That Saturday, we had our first up-close encounter. Our minds and bodies intertwined and, as expected, he felt so familiar.

Here’s where things get tricky. As I mentioned, I struggle with forming attachments. This is something I’ve known about myself for years, and before now, never saw an issue with. Our first night together, I jumped up at eight  in the morning and left. I continued this pattern in the months that followed. With each gentle attempt to open me up, I shut him out.

Have you ever been so afraid of ruining something that, in the midst of that fear, you destroy it? I let the things that frighten me most, prevent me from being happy. It’s not having joy that scares me, it’s losing it. Subconsciously I wondered what I had done to deserve something so healthy and satisfying. Subconsciously I felt like it was too good to be true, for me.

I was always aware of my reservations in love and companionship. I’ve been the cause of heartbreak because of my inability to be an equal partner. I chalked those experiences up to timing and God’s ultimate plan for my life. This was different, though. For the first time, I actively wanted to address the things that I had buried in an attempt to give him what he deserves from me.

During that journey, I discovered a lot about myself that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. It required me to ask uncomfortable questions to those who had hurt me and explore paths that I would rather have left in the rear view. That journey allowed me to pick myself apart in ways that had intimidated me in the past. That journey exposed my biggest insecurities and for the first time, I saw me. There were tears and moments of frustration, but I was able to step outside of myself and see the long-term effects of suppressing my trauma. I preach self-love, self-esteem, and accepting your truth, but now I know what that feels like.

Sadly, for him and I, it was too late. I’ve made attempts to mend our relationship, but, if I were him, I too, would be afraid of what I’m capable of. I too, would worry that I am a liability in love.

These days, when I think of him, when I miss him and want to rest my nose on the warmth of his neck, I think of Zora Neale Hurston’s quote, ”Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”

I’ll always be grateful to both him and his Momma. I’m grateful to his Momma for raising him, and to him, for helping me realize that I am capable — that I am worthy — and also, that love isn’t as intimidating as I once thought.

Thank you to my unicorn for unknowingly guiding me to this place and being the push I needed in order to have a healthier relationship with myself. I now understand that love is simple. Love is intimacy and vulnerability. Love is the process. Love is trusting God.

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