When we think of relationship anxiety, we often think of the fears of getting hurt.
What if he leaves?
What if I have to leave?
What if this is the wrong relationship and I get hurt down the road?
These thoughts are really rooted in fears of loss, abandonment, and grief.
The intrusive thoughts serve as a "protector" from perceived or future pain.
Many of my clients come to me for this.
But what they often discover is that they also have a low tolerance for intense joy and happiness. They may experience feeling REALLY good in their relationship, and then get hit with another wave of intense fear. Or they never really let themselves fully lean into feelings of love and connection.
We can be so afraid to allow ourselves to fully experience joy, love, excitement.
It often triggers the same anxiety as feeling sadness, grief, and loss.
Because intense happiness is vulnerable as hell. To open yourself fully to a life with no guarantees and allow yourself to embrace it wholeheartedly can be the scariest thing.
It can trigger intrusive thoughts like:
What if this doesn't last?
What if I'm lying to myself?
What if I'm lying to my partner?
And this pulls you back into the familiar suffering of Relationship Anxiety/OCD.
The pain has become predictable and familiar.
Your body learned somewhere along the way that you weren’t allowed to feel that. Or if you did, it was taken away.
So the healing journey is just as much about rewiring ourselves to safely feel happiness as it is about sitting with the dark, painful emotions.
We must teach ourselves that it's OKAY to feel happy and joyful. It's OKAY to fully love someone without all the certainty. It's OKAY to take the risks of love.
The goal of healing is to be able to experience the whole range of human emotions, without anxiety coming in to “protect you” from the perceived danger of feeling.
To breathe with every feeling, every experience, every fleeting moment.
Because that's the nature of this human life here on earth.
There are no guarantees. There is no perfect certainty. There is no black and white answer.
We must stay in the moment and allow ourselves to feel.
This is what is means to be alive.
This it what it means to love wholeheartedly.
If anxiety and intrusive thoughts are getting in the way of being able to enjoy your relationship, then I invite you to my free Facebook support group, Moving Beyond Fear.
You'll connect with so many others who know what you're going through and you'll deepen your awareness of your experience so that you can move toward healing.