I used to screenshot text messages with some people I dated. Texts that seemed funny, affectionate, or like another trivial conversation.
Looking at those screenshots, you would think I was happy and playful, but they surely didn’t show how I actually felt in the time between my texts and their one-word replies, when the blue ticks appeared but I had no way to tell when they would get back to me.
I remember that time in my life when I tried so hard to show the world that I was confident and in control, but I was painfully lost and scared, desperately using romance as an escape.
No one knew that on the first date, though. Those guys bought my bullshit just like I did. They were clueless to the hurricane inside me.
In retrospect, it was a big mistake…
Because, when that hurricane broke out, instead of trying to understand and comfort me, they alienated me. They hurt me with their careless words and cruel actions. They made me feel like no one could ever love me.
Their inability to empathise and lack of emotional depth became my burden to educate them about anxiety or to be someone I was not. They became the physical scars on my body to numb the emotional pain I felt and, eventually, remind myself that I had to protect myself better.
It was traumatising, to say the least; so, for a minute, I imagine never having had anxiety. I wish that I had never had to carry such burden and scars. I ask myself, “What if that hurricane had never come?”
The music would have kept playing; the texts would have kept coming; I would have had some good times — maybe even really good times — to look back on fondly. I would have been the one who left instead of being left. I would have been genuinely playful in those texts while living my best life.
It’s funny to think that way because I’m actually living my best life now, thanks to my hell experience with anxiety and those relationships that opened my eyes to my truths.
Frankly, if I hadn’t had anxiety, I would have never entertained those people, and those texts would have never been screenshot in the first place because I see now that they were trivial conversations and those guys got nothing on me.
Well, the main reason why I was so drawn to them was because they made me stupidly anxious. How ironic.
Now, I’m actually grateful for that hurricane inside me because, without it, I would have wasted a lot of my time with the wrong people. My hurricane swept away everything superficially good in those relationships and exposed the fundamental parts that were mismatched and flimsy.
I cried in the aftermath, but I always came out strengthened and deepened.
I grew and I glowed.
I realise that, unlike a real hurricane, my anxiety wasn’t untamable.
Those guys ran away or shamed me as they saw me as my anxiety, but that never worked out well for anyone. The hurricane of anxiety needs stability and love.
The trick is for a partner to stand still and be kind. It will help the anxiety recognise that there’s no real danger, I’m safe, and soon enough it will calm down.
Don’t be afraid of the hurricane inside you. It actually isn’t here to hurt you; it’s here to protect you.
My Message for You
If dating sometimes feels like a life-or-death situation because of your anxiety, it’s a sign to take time out for yourself.
Relationships should never damage you or make you feel less of yourself. Relationships should enhance your life, but it only happens if you know how to help yourself first.
Don’t be afraid of the hurricane inside you. It actually isn’t here to hurt you; it’s here to protect you. So either you watch it do its job, or you need to let it know that you’re safe and in control.
When you can sense it, let it be. Bring it with you to the therapy office or pour it out onto the pages of your journal. Show it consistently over time that you’re okay and loving your life. Breathe.
Choose people who love you for who you are and see you brightly even when your anxiety overwhelms you.
It took me a long time to get here, but now that I’m here, I don’t regret a thing. It was a worthwhile journey of self-discovery and self-empowerment. My hurricane has transformed into a breeze that reminds me to be in the moment and enjoy myself.