I’ve been writing a lot about anxiety recently for my book chapters. Without knowing it, anxiety is a bigger character in the story I am telling than I anticipated to be.
I am writing this story with Lane’s permission. There aren’t many parts of Lane and my’s growing relationship that I’ve shared on the internet. I’ve been a blogger for 5 years now and so I have learned how important it is to separate your life from what is happening on the screen and what is taking place off of it. Relationships can easily be muddied up when two people are invested in the image of their relationship rather than the character of it.
My heart for every reader-- as I write my truth-- is that you will invest your life in a person who is more of a map to you than a story. Stories are beautiful but maps take you places. Remember to go, and see, and do. Put down your phone and live love out loud, not just through captions and tags.
I knew really early on that Lane was my person. I wasn’t expecting it to happen that fast but it was our third date that made it clear to me: I was falling in love with this man. He cooked me scallops at his home. He showed up at the door with an easy smile and a flannel. He bought me a bottle of wine with a gold-glinted wrapping because he said the story of the wine, on the back of the bottle, was something I would like. It was all about roots and finding your home. We baked brownies and watched Garden state. It was the first time I knew I could build a life with this man.
It wouldn’t be true if I said it were that easy though. Even with this deep knowing in my gut that I’d found a man to cover my thin places, I had all this anxiety about fourth and fifth dates with Lane. He knows this. He knows that much of his security was met by my insecurity. I’d scripted this untrue story in my brain before I met him that I was never going to be certain when the right one was standing in front of me. I would never have a way of knowing. That story was dangerous because the more I told myself it, the harder it became to undo it. The story gained power. The story had momentum.
Anxiety will have a field day with whatever you feed it. Your anxiety is happy to feed on your love life, your relationships, your career, and your purpose in life. Your anxiety wants to be fed something substantial, something that matters most to you, so it can feel full and still hold a purpose in your brain.
Daily feeding my relationship with Lane to my anxiety was like going to the gym and then eating a number 7 from McDonald’s an hour later (I hope there is a number 7… I’m not so sure!). I would pray in the morning but, by 11am, the anxiety had hold of my brain. I never could have clear thoughts about Lane because I was only looking at our relationship with anxiety brain. I didn’t know at the time that anxiety can be managed.
I felt like I needed to write about this because a lot of us can so easily be governed by our feelings. We want to believe in our feelings but our feelings aren’t always accurate. They trick us. They distort truth. They want you to go on thinking you never need to tame them, fact check them, or test them. Feelings want to be followed. Falling in love is not about following a feeling, it’s about making a daily choice to pick one person and then following through.
I cannot claim to be able to cover all the grey area thats come with relationships. I know it’s not as simple as choosing a person and then never doubting. People choose us and then leave us all the time. It happens and we can’t control that. I never want to belittle those stories or make my story seem like it’s above that. However, the most pivotal point in our relationship was after another spell of doubt and fear that maybe I was making the wrong decision. I would have these doubts all the time. I would let the doubt tell me what it wanted and I would be left anxious and afraid as a result. Love is not about fear. The two don’t coexist. One has to live longer than the other. You decide whether you’re giving the oxygen mask to love or fear.
I had to make the decision, at that point in the relationship, to not feed Lane to the lions of anxiety in my head. I told Lane that yes, I had anxiety but it wasn’t towards him. I denounced the anxiety trying to come at Lane from every angle. I told the anxiety, “After tonight, this is not your home. You don’t get to live inside of this relationship anymore.”
I really said those things. I really kicked out the anxiety from the relationship and spent hours, in the next few weeks, continuing to kick it out. Every time it came back, looking for a home, I turned it away. I wanted Lane’s love for me to finally have the chance to be bigger than the fears I’d let half-love me my whole entire life.
You are allowed to starve out your anxiety and leave it homeless. It’s hard work. It’s constant work. It might not completely release but you can start to make baby steps and micro choices towards choosing what you allow your anxiety to feed off of.
It’s Monday. There are precious things we get each day. We get to the be the stewards of people and things we don’t deserve. You could keep feeding your anxiety or you could look up and see that love is hungry too. Love is hungry to come through the doors and make the comfort food on the stove.
Don’t be afraid to let love in. Don’t be too scared to let love eat.