September Anxiety

IMG_5108 (1)The slightly crisp air. The sight of school supplies lining the aisles of the pharmacy. The sound of the school bus. Autumn leaves. The loss of light at the day’s end. And my clients are suddenly sharing dreams about showing up at school without any clothes on or forgetting to study for the test.

Why would September bring anxiety? One reason is because it reminds us of school. And, sadly, for many people school was a place where their freedom, creativity, love of learning, and social exuberance were clamped down and, quite often, annihilated.

I often think about the one-room schoolhouse that my grandparents attended in upstate New York. Back in the 1920s, school was a luxury, a place where farm children could escape their chores, learn the essential skills that would help them elevate themselves and attend college, which would then secure a career away from the drudgery and physically-demanding work of farm life. (I find it interesting and ironic that there’s been a huge “back to the earth” movement in recent years. I wonder what my grandparents would say.) While still dependent on the luck of the draw regarding ones’ teacher, I imagine that, for the most part, school was an experience that kids looked forward to.

That’s not always the case these days. I, for one, loved school through sixth grade, but when I had to change schools in 7th grade I experienced anxiety and insomnia for the first time in my life. With the introduction of tests and grades, my genuine love of learning was replaced by the pressure to succeed. Being exposed to social hierarchy and cliques for the first time, which seemed largely based on being well-dressed, my social ease was replaced by the need to please. Where school had once been a place of joy and freedom, it now felt like a prison. September, once an exciting time when I looked forward to clean notebooks and freshly sharpened pencils, was now fraught with dread.

And my school experience was a walk in the park compared to what I hear from many of my clients. I’m always amazed and heartbroken by how many people who find their way to my work – struggling with relationship anxiety and self-doubt – suffered at the hands of bullies in their school-age years. If I had to give a rough estimate I would say that at least 75% of my clients and course members were bullied. Why would this be so? Bullies often target the sensitive, smart, introspective, and introverted kids, which describes my clients to a tee. Perhaps the bullies themselves were highly sensitive babies whose sensitivity was judged, shamed and trampled down so early in their life that they couldn’t tolerate the sensitivity in others. Whatever the cause, when you’ve been emotionally abused at the hands of your peers, it’s very difficult to trust your peers, of which your partner is one, later in life. When your heart has been shattered, it’s difficult to believe that it won’t shatter again.

Aside from school anxiety, September heralds the change of seasons, and the sensitives of the world are highly attuned to this sense of loss. Here in Colorado we taste the first intimations of autumn’s arrival in August. There’s a morning chill in the air before the day’s heat rises into the 90s. Some of the leaves respond to the shift in temperature and start to turn color. There’s an ending, a death, as the season of water and heat descends into colder and darker days. As the world turn inward, psyche follows suit.

The healing response, as always, is to turn toward the difficult feelings instead of pushing them away with judgement, shame, resistance or minimizing (“Silly self, why are you feeling sad when it’s still summer? Nobody else is sad. Get over it”). If grief arises, we breathe into the grief. If a bubble of emptiness hollows the chest, we breathe there as well. If memories of earlier transitions punctuate a moment of day or night, we make room for it and remind ourselves that loss triggers loss, transitions trigger transitions.

My clients often struggle with the idea that sensitivity is a gift. “Why can’t I just be normal?” they bemoan, hoping to be more like at least the external image of people around them who seem to accept life on life’s terms more easily. So I take every opportunity to point out the gift of sensitivity, one of which is that, when you’re highly attuned to the loss inherent to the shift in seasons, you’re also attuned to the potential for growth on the other side. With every death comes a rebirth, and this applies to loss on every level. The gift in this is that when you allow yourself to feel the losses fully, you also experience the joy and potential for new growth on the other side. Transitions shake up the terrain. Without these essential crossroads, life would remain stagnant. And when we dive fully into the fray of the transition, allowing ourselves to surrender to the feeling of being out of control, vulnerable, and groundless, allowing the tears to flow in response and transposing the experience into creative expression, we find ground in the underlying and overarching sense that it’s all okay.

58 comments to September Anxiety

  • Jo

    Hi Sheryl
    As we move out of winter in Australia and into spring, I start thinking about Xmas coming soon and the assault on my senses that is this time that I find so hard to get through. I don’t want to be the Xmas Grinch for my two sons, leading up to this year is a time they love, but I find it all very overwhelming. I keep thinking of the Xmas’s my husband and I shared when it was just the two of us with no extended family around, and especially the first Xmas with our son when he was only three weeks old. They were beautiful.

    I’ll definitely be enjoying the warmer mornings where I can go for a walk on the beach before work and see the butterflies in full flight. Its just Xmas, not a holiday I love.

    Keep warm x

    • I think you’ve named another overwhelming element of this time, which is the proximity of the holiday season. It’s overwhelming for so many people, and the key, I think, is learn how to walk through it in a way that works for you without falling prey to the onslaught of “shoulds”. Sending love –

  • talespinner77

    You have once again relayed the message I am trying to get within myself. It is funny when I see the back to school items, it churns up a sore place inside myself. When I see my daughter getting ready to go back to school and the memories of my own experiences. I suffered from bullying my whole school career, and I never realized how hard the transference from Aug. to September is for me. I have been trying to piece together for the last two weeks why I have this sense of needing to run away arising so heavy in me. It is almost as if the fall leads to the darkness, the enveloping feeling of loss, and fear that comes with this time of the year. It is not that I need to run (lord knows I cant out run this), not that I need to change anything, it is simply a transition that as I age I begin to become more familiar with. I just want to say thank you for reminding me <3

    • Thank you, talespinner. As always, your comment speaks to the heart of the matter with great vulnerability. You have the capacity to meet this place now, to bring love and compassion to yourself as you allow yourself to feel whatever arises.

  • Marybeth

    All so true…
    Especially on the heels of summer with its freedom and timelessness…
    We enrolled our daughter in Pre-K in a new school we are excited about–but just not excited about it at this juncture of age 4.75…
    It is an 8-2pm program five days/week. Waayyy too much at this age-far too prohibitive (and away from her Mommy;)
    So we have opted to keep her out either 2-3 days of the 5 days or perhaps just skip the year altogether–still deciding.
    My gut is telling me and reminding me loud and clear about this ‘season’ of her never being this age, this free, this unstructured ever again. She loves school (loved her 3hr/day afternoons at an Emilia Reggio nursery) last year, so I don’t want to deny her the socialization and soft-structure, learning, etc, but seriously a shame that childhood is not able to be extended longer in this country.
    She has the rest of her life to get up and out the door to work–why would I start now?
    Agree w/ you-
    Maybe this is exactly why we feel these Sept blues.

  • Marybeth

    That is very interesting!
    It sadly is a different time.
    Some of the suburbs around here are INSANE with the academics and the sports…
    Russian tutors for 7yr olds (who are not even Russan! Not like it is for their own traditions, etc).
    5yr olds in lacrosse travel (not a typo!) leagues. ?!
    Too much, too much.
    The kids do not want nor need this. But the parents somehow do… #ego

  • Angela

    Hi Sheryl,
    Here in Sydney Australia winter is nearly over and I’m so looking forward to Spring September.

  • Angela

    I still feel stuck in this anxiety and I’m getting tired of it. I wanna feel my usual happy self. I don’t like the word anxiety I’m ashamed of feeling this way Sheryl. I don’t want to run I just want me. Only me. I want to breathe freely.

  • Kristen

    Although your newsletters always speak to me on some level, this one really struck a chord. I was always the quiet, bookish, thoughtful kid in school, and my peers made fun of me endlessly for being in the gifted classes. For that reason, I always dreaded “back to school” but got over it when I went to college. Years ago, in my mid-20s, I experienced a severe panic attack in September that triggered a spiral of depression that continued and deepened through the holiday season. Although that was nearly ten years ago, I still get very anxious and uneasy every September, thinking about how I will get through the change of seasons and the dark winter. This article brought to light the connection between “back to school” and that September panic attack (and subsequent September anxiety). Thank you, Sheryl, for helping to shed light on something that I myself never realized. While I would not wish anxiety on anyone, it is somewhat comforting to know that others struggle with this, too.

    • It’s helpful when we can make the conscious connections that our unconscious has known all along. I’m so glad this article helped you put a piece into place.

  • Angela

    It means its telling me something .. i need to look inward and ride with the unpleasant feelings. Me and my husband had the weekend away. Out of Sydney. I really enjoyed my time there. But on Sunday I woke up feeling miserable and my husband thought he said something to upset me. I told him he did nothing wrong. I dont like feeling this way especially when we r supposed to be enjoying ourselves. I feel bad and then my husband feels bad. He dosent experience anxiety so he dosent really know what im going through. I feel embarrassed and little guilty about it.

  • Matilda

    I feel a bit guilty for saying this but I look forward to September, to the darker evenings , rainy days and winter coming. I realised 2 years ago that I suffer from Reverse SAD. September is a huge relief for me and my anxiety and depression which has cursed me since April/May begins to lift.
    I can totally understand why most other people affected by the change of seasons would struggle in autumn, I don’t understand why I’m the opposite?

  • Maria

    My mum found this post for me after seeing how nervous and fretty I am being at the moment because I’m starting university in September after having a gap year! I was bullied at school up until I was about 12/13 and it’s caused me to have now developed quite a tough exterior which I don’t really let anyone else into! It was also one of the causes of the depression I suffered about 2 years ago! While I have been travelling this year I have definitely matured a huge amount and become slightly better at letting people see inside my shell but I am very nervous about retreating back into it once I start uni! – as this is the first time, since I was 11, that I have moved schools! I think there are lots of other things that I am nervous about, but I can’t quite put a finger on what they are…

  • Zoe

    Hi sheryl,

    My behaviour as a child was awful around Christmas. I am easily overwhelmed by things and as adventurous as I am, I simultaneously struggle with transition. My OCD would blow up and my parents didn’t know how to cope with my behaviour around Christmas. And what is so weird, is that I absolutely love Christmas. Does that ring any bells with clients you have spoken with? Also you mentioned bullying and introversion. I am very extrovert but am without a doubt highly sensitive, is this fairly normal/common? I was bullied but I feel a lot of people are however I was very sensitive to it and my whole body would feel the angst and stress when it happened.

    Please tell me what you think,

    Thanks so much sheryl xx

  • scaredkitty

    Hi Sheryl and everyone,
    was wondering i what I am experiencing could be considered relationship anxiety. I have been in relationship with my loving partner for 7 years. I have had doubts about my feelings and have always since I could remember struggled with fear. However lately, the prevalent intrusive thought/sentiment has been “my life will never change unless i cut him out of the picture.” “my life will not flow and I am going against the universe/god by staying”.
    This has triggered me to have small panic attacks throughout the day, feel pressure in my chest and cannot sleep at night. A part of me screams that I love him with everything and cannot let him go, and another tells me this is a lie.
    A little about myself currently, I quit my job 9 months ago and have not been able to move forward since. I was also recently diagnosed ADHD. I feel completely stagnated and lost . I wish this wasnt fixated on him so badly. This is really taking a toll on my partner. I feel I am being cracked open but so afraid to look inside. any and all insights would be much appreciated.
    Thanks everyone, these articles and eveyone’s stories have been the best form of comfort

  • Angela

    the stuck heavy feeling in my chest gives always annoys me the most. I just wonder if the girls that bullied me in high school suffer anxiety. I would like to pass it on to them

  • Wasabi

    I have been having a tremendous amount of anxiety, mostly work related. I think part of it has to do with this time of year. I have October Anxiety. I have been working as a temp for about six months and the company will decide whether or not they will hire me in October. They have me doing a lot of projects that temps wouldn’t be doing, which is great. However, a lot of it is new to me and I struggle quite a bit and it stresses me out. I worry that they won’t see me as good enough for this position. So, I can either be hired or fired in October. Last year in October, I was fired from another job because I wasn’t performing up to the boss’s expectations. And in October of 2009, I was fired for the same reason (but it wasn’t a job I liked anyway). And November of 2008, I was laid off due to a company merger. I know that I should look to the positive but my tendency at times is to see the negative possibilities. I work very hard and know that I am talented but fear that my anxiety makes me look very dumb. I also know that nobody else in my department is a temp, nor have they ever been temps. A new guy just started, young and at the beginning of his career. There was no need for them to have him temp. He is an official full time team member. That also adds to my feeling of inferiority.

  • Angela

    That pit in the stomach is still there and i thought it was gone. I still cant concentrate i make silly mistakes i really hate it. 2 years and doing the work. I have improved alot but not there yet. At the moment i dont find anxiety a blessing or a gift. I feel like im getting punished as my family always have punished me over the years.

    • There really is no “there” with anxiety, Angela. There’s acceptance, and then through the acceptance comes compassion, curiosity, and a true desire to meet yourself with kindness. Your anxiety isn’t a punishment; it’s a messenger. If you could remove the self-judgement and approach the pit in your stomach with curiosity, what would it say?

  • Ken

    It really sucks having excessive thoughts that affect you’re present situation and possible future commitments. I think that she deserves someone better due to my feeling of emptiness, lack of enthusiasm and effort, I feel that I don’t care and don’t want to see her anymore, I start to avoid her and lie to her sometimes, I shut down myself every time that we had a fight results into I keep pushing her away. I know that she’s a bit needy, possessive and controls doesn’t know how to properly give space but it’s because she was tremendously traumatized and hurt in the past by huge events and series of breakups I’m still understanding her. Aside from her bad points I might be badly projecting her since I’m bit depressed due to events cutting fake friends and problems in school and in life. She’s so amazing, she treats me good, loves me and supports me, she’s attractive and sooo kind! I don’t know why I can’t appreciate her and treat her the way she deserves to be treated. I keep shutting down myself that I don’t want to see other people and just stay inside our house or spend time with my friends for a while, I can’t seem to properly eat and take rest even though I sleep more than 6 hours. This feelings and thoughts eat me alive and start to torment me day by day, minute by minute. Thanks for letting me share here

    • Have you considered the e-course?

      • Ken

        I really want to but can’t afford it. I’m really grateful to you, In the series of dating the results are sometimes I’m the one who doesn’t want it and it lasts for weeks or 1-2 months only. I want to grow to mature and dating other girls might be a quick fix or something. But this girl always tends to me no matter how badly I can treat her. It makes me so sad

        • Keep reading through my site. Many have been helped just from the blogs alone.

          • Ken

            Thank you! I just don’t understand whether what I have is relationship anxiety or plain relationship doubts or maybe I’m not that into her or this is OCD stuff. I just don’t know why I’m bothered so much. I think I’m also scared that my answer is not being with her since I son’t want her to be used by other guys or mistreat her or for sex only. I know that I’m narcissistic on my part and selfish, I just want to change for the better

          • Ken

            I cared for her but suddenly turned into on and off for the both of us. We’re still dating since I’m the one cannot commit to her to become my girlfriend. I don’t want to commit since I keep feeling this way. Even sex is blocked since I respect her and I want to engage to sex when I feel the same way for her. sorry for replying too much

  • Angela

    Thats the thing Sheryl. I dont know what its trying to say. I dont know what the messenger is trying to tell me. Im the positive person i know, my thoughts keep saying to me this is not the way to live. Which is coming from my ego. Its frustrating Sheryl. Im feeling hurt by my mother and brothers it makes me feel angry.

  • Angela

    i have removed the self judgement and i still feel this way. I dont want to force the uncomfortable feelings away. Im just sitting with it and im not liking it.

    • Great that you’re sitting with it, Angela. It sounds like there’s some anger and frustration at your family that needs to come out responsibly. Perhaps writing an anger letter or two that you don’t send?

  • Mea

    I was just starting to feel these feelings and thought about your posts from the past about the feelings in the fall. I was not surprised anymore why I started to feel this way although it is still summer. I can sense the autumn and the winter and thanks to you I know why and that others feel the same way too!
    Thank you for your eye-opening posts and again this post could not have come at a better time.

  • searching for calm

    In a world where it can feel like no one appreciates the massive shifts that is “the passing of time”, this post makes me feel so good. I am a teacher and I mostly do not work in the summer. I enjoy time to myself, my artwork, family, adventures, etc. September means “getting back on stage” in some ways an putting on my teacher persona. While I am very successful as a teacher I often wonder how on earth can I do this for another year? Why did I sign up for this? I, too, dread the coming winter and shortening days. How can I be bright & buoyant in the face of that darkness and the restriction of school again? I know I’ll find the rhythm, there will be good days and bad, but still, I find myself worrying just like it was the first year teaching.

    thank you for all you write, Sheryl.

  • Angela

    Thank you so much Sheryl, for being there just at that moment when I needed support. I have been doing so well, but at times I lose track of where I am. I feel so lost that it overwhelmes me with fear and I feel like I’m stuck in the mud and I cannot break free. I feel like a child that has to be told what to do and it upsets me. Most of the time I am that relaxed, in control assertive person. It bothers me when my husband takes the lead when I feel like this. I feel embarrassed.
    Yes I have written a letter to myself about how angry and hurt I feel from my family and that day I felt amazing. Y
    Thanks so much xxx

  • onedayatatime

    I just had a bad dream this week about being in university and somehow I hadn’t attended classes in months (like I had completely forgot or something) and I didn’t study for all my exams and realized they were only a week away! I didn’t take the time to name the feelings that it left with me that morning or into the day, but it really affected me. If I could name it now it was definitely this big feeling of overwhelm. I have had dreams with this exact theme many times actually and sometimes it is with my work setting. So interesting that you mention this. I ALWAYS have mixed feelings when september (fall) comes around. I find I feel this change of seasons the most, or it has the most impact on me. It makes sense that it would be connected to a feeling of loss or a sense of dropping down, hibernating, slowing down or curling up.

  • Kimmie33

    Hi Sheryl, it seems this rings true for me as well as I have been feeling particularly anxious over this period. Having moved in with my boyfriend mid July, I feel we are settling in and getting into a good groove. Out of the blue last night my boyfriend says to me “I need to know why you are with me. Do you really love me? Why do you never initiate sex with me? I feel like you don’t love or fancy me. Is this how a relationship should be? I have a gut feeling that tells me if I were to ask you to marry me you would say no. Why is this? I love you so much and want our future to be together but I feel you are holding back from me. I’m worried you are just with me cos I am your best friend and you’re worried you wont find someone else at your age. I need to feel loved and wanted in this relationship” I couldn’t believe what he was saying….so black and white and clear as day! I was so shocked as he was completely and honestly verbalizing all my anxieties! He has picked up on them and now I have nowhere to run. I can’t tell him about this relationship anxiety as I feel he would not understand. Last night was torturous as I could not explain myself and just kept reiterating the fact that I did love him and wanted to be with him. Sheryl I took your Open your Heart program and am trying to work on myself. Do you have any blogs or write ups on how to explain to partners about this anxiety please? I’m afraid it would break him as he would not fully understand it’s complexities 🙁
    I want to say how grateful I am for finding your work. During the course of last nights argument and upset, I had you in the back of my mind giving me hope and strength. Thank you.

  • H

    I desperately need an answer to my questions! I love spending time with my boyfriend and enjoy his company. We have had always wanted kids,marriage et withy each other…. I have had anxiety on off this whole relationship. I know we are really suited just sometimes I panic. I went through a big stage of feeling like I was so excited for the future, marriage,kids etc and then one day I just didn’t really care and it frightened me! And o felt like I couldn’t be bothered to get excited the other day when speaking to my partner and this scared me also. And now I am in a really bad way I can’t seem to shake this! I don’t even want to see my friend later because I would rather wallow in my room and figure out what is going on in my head because I feel like I need an answer straight away. I can go from extremely scared of the future with what ifs,or extremely excited for the future once I keep telling myself that love is a choice etc, but it seems to be that I have believed what I have thought the other day into thinking it is really bad! I don’t know what to do! It has frightened me into thinking what if we don’t want the same things anymore? Sheryl please help!!! 🙁

    • It’s classic relationship anxiety. All I can suggest is either to join the e-course or just continue reading through my site. I know how scary it is, H. Hang on. Read. Journal. Do you inner work and it will transform.

    • H

      Okay thank you sooo much for replying! It’s nice to know I am not the only one because I really don’t want to give up this relationship because nothing has really changed, the only thing that has changed is that we are not in the honeymoon period anymore. And it is my brain that is stopping me from loving him freely. I am 100% going to take the course I’m just not sure when because I don’t really want to do it on my computer because my family will see what I am doing and I am afraid they will judge me! Will I be able to get onto it on any computer? Thanks, you have been very helpful. God bless xx

      • It’s accessible on any computer.

        • H

          When I put my card details in PayPal for the payment for the course it says it only accepts credit cards for this type of payment. Is this true? Because I don’t own a credit card and I don’t want one lol. All I have is my debit card…

  • Lauren

    Sheryl,

    Knowing that you have previously written about absorbing other people’s lives (an article which I found extremely helpful), I’m wondering if you could touch on what happened yesterday in Virginia. The victims were around my age, mid-twenties, with their entire lives ahead of them – and both were apparently in loving, promising relationships. Yesterday, I found myself completely absorbed in the news about what had happened. I have cried several times, even though I didn’t know them personally. I have always been very sensitive to tragedies such as this.
    Maybe it’s the fear of loss that I’m struggling with, or maybe it’s something else, I’m not sure. I have been doing much better in the past month or so, but my relationship anxiety spiked yesterday and today I’ve been full of doubt. Even now I hear, “your anxiety spiked because you know you don’t love him (my partner).”

  • In Ayurveda, we would call the sudden onslaught of anxiety in fall to be a sign that Vata dosha, the cold energy of air and ether elements, is building in the atmosphere and therefore building in our bodies. This means anxiety, constipation, dryness in the skin, new inspirations and plans, cold hands, and frayed nerves! So counter-acting and calming vata with oily and warming foods like soups and stews, along with minimizing drying and cold foods especially coffee, can help tame our nerves and bring us back down to Earth! Hope this helps! 🙂

  • Northernlass

    This is going to be a little off-topic, and maybe a bit long, but I feel like I need to reach out.

    I’ve just moved back to the UK with my partner, after having lived 6 years abroad. Since we’ve been here I’ve become a little depressed, especially when my partner isn’t here (which is one week out of two, due to his work). I’ve never missed one of your articles, Sheryl (thank God for every one of them!), and I remember reading about existential depression. I think this is what I might have just now. I worry a lot about all the different beliefs out there and wonder what is truth.

    Since I’ve also only recently – about a year ago – left organised religion. I grew up in a strict church and have gradually moved into more liberal beliefs. I no longer ascribe to Christianity although I believe in a God of Love who has always been there for me and directed my steps. I believe he/she/brought worked the wonderful circumstances that brought my partner and I together. I left church because I couldn’t agree with all their teachings and felt used up in church service. Now I pursue my own spiritual path and creative outlets which I feel are more beneficial to me and others than spending my life in a religion where I feel used and manipulated.

    I’ve always suffered from intrusive thoughts, now relating to my relationship, which I believe to stem from a fear of loss (my dad died when I was 15). One of the thoughts that keeps coming back is: my partner needs to believe the same stuff about God as I do. In my heart-of-hearts I don’t actually believe this to be true. I think values are more important than beliefs, and all our spiritual walks and how we relate to the world around us are different. I would consider myself spiritual and progressive, while my partner is more agnostic. We’ve already discussed how we’ll raise our children and have decided to get them baptised as infants and then let them choose their own path. Our differences in ‘beliefs’ are rarely, if ever, an issue for conflict. It’s just these stupid intrusive thoughts which come back again and again. I think they’re related to the kind of spiritual abuse I suffered growing up in a cultish church.

    If anyone would feel like chatting, I’d love a friend right now. We don’t have many friends yet in our new town which makes all this even worse.

    • H

      hi Northernlass,

      How weird, I was just replying to one of Sheryl’s comments and I saw what you said. I kinda understand what you mean. I have not grown up in a family home where we believe in any sort of religion. But just recently, (especially since reading these posts) i am starting to go the other way. But then will question every part of life and any religious belief. I also sit there and over think the whole of life, like we are all living a script of someone else’s life and that we are told what we should and shouldn’t do but how do we know this is right?, what is the the meaning of life, what actually is love, have we all been drip fed everything our whole lives and it makes me feel like what have i been doing this whole time? Have i just been convincing myself that i should live my life like this. But i jsut end of questioning everything in my whole life and start to think what is the point in anything then! Its a vicious cycle.

    • dee

      Hi Northern Lass,
      I think I could relate to you, when i got together with my boyfrinend I was still very much a believer in God (in the Catholic sense) my boyfriend in on the other hand was, an still is atheist. For me, it felt very stimulating as we debated very much about it in highschool. Ironically, in many ways over the years as my defintion of spirtuality changed, and I turned away from Catholicism, I could see how in many respects he lives spiritually . For example, he is very grounded, attuned to nature and is very attuned to himself. He is also very noble and has a lot if faith in life. These are areas I need improvement in and just harboring a belief in God and religion did not cultivate them in me. I think you should turn your attention to what’s in his heart and how he lives his life as opposed to just his beliefs, especially if he respects and doesn’t infringe on yours. And I agree, intrusive thoughts are difficult for us who are sensitve and anxious. I’ll wake up in the middle of the night anxiously telling myself we need to break up because I dont’t love him anymore, and the thought of breaking up breaks my heart . Just today though, I cried because I love him so much and I never want to let him go.

      • dee

        To add to what I said previously, i think for me my religious upbringing ended creating a lot of guilt. I recognize now that I need to heal it and release it. Perhaps it would be helpful for you to reflect on any guilt you may have for leaving your old beliefs behind. For me its been around us having sleepovers, not goin to church anymore etc. It’s amazing to have found this beautiful space for everyone to share and connect. yay <3

        • Northernlass

          Hi dee,

          Nice to hear from you too. Yaay for connecting with people who understand! ♡ Actually this is what deep down I know and believe about my partner too. He is very spiritual in the way he’s also attuned to nature, thoughtful and caring. He’s way more loving and ‘spiritual’ than a lot of Christian people I know! We also have a spiritual connection, if that doesn’t sound too weird! As a said, it’s only my mind that makes up the problem, not my heart!

          I think you’re right about the guikt issue. I do feel bad for leaving church and frequently think that maybe I’ve made a bad decision, even though before the guilt kicked in I knew it was the right thing to do. I still believe in living a loving life, but I can definitely do that out of church, without the feeling of manipulation or me trying to swallow their truths which I find hard to chew. Any ideas for letting go of the guilt?

          • dee

            Hi again,
            I wish I knew how to release the guilt. This is something I currently find myself struggling with very much. Especially because my religious identity was a huge component with how I bonded with my parents, especially my mom. However, like you, I just couldn’t stomach the manipulation and shaming any longer… Perhaps this is an area where Sheryl can suggest some techniques or write about in the future. I’m sure being compassionate with ourselves is the key, but it’s very hard, especially when the anxiety appears to be concentrated on our relationships…

  • Northernlass

    Hi H,

    Nice to hear from you. I think that if you follow this blog you’re probably anxious and sensitive like me, so these issues can really seem like a big deal to us. Maybe part of the answer is excepting that we won’t ever have a perfect answer, and just go along with our small bits of truth for the moment. Sheryl always talks about learning to accept not having 100% certainty about things. What I shouldn’t do (what I did for over an hour today 🙁 ) is google for answers. World views are personal things, and googling never helps me get over an ‘obsession’. It only makes me get caught up in a tiring cycle.

    • H

      Yes you are very right! I’m rubbish at accepting uncertainty! But I am trying. Have you thought about going to a therapist and speaking about your problems? (Not that they are ‘problems’ as such) because since o have been seeing a therapist I have seen a massive improvement!

      • Northernlass

        I’ve always been a bit terrified of seeing a therapist cos I’m scared they won’t think relationship anxiety is a real thing and try to suggest that thete might actually be a problem with my loving relationship instead (which is as near to perfect as imperfect human relationships can be!)

        • A good diagnostic question to ask when you’re looking for a therapist is: “What do you doubt means when you’re in a loving, healthy relationship?”

        • H

          I know what you mean! I don’t go into too much detail but because I’ve had anxiety all my life I bring up other things that cause me anxiety (for instance, my job, my friendships, my family life) and then when she speaks about that I use the tools she gives me to my relationship. It is very scary! I also do a tool where you can actually speak to yourself like someone else would, and actually have a convo to find out what is wrong. And you usually come out with the right answer- it sounds weird talking to yourself at first but it really does work! Also, she tells me to name something everyday that I am grateful for, and it can be anything. And also to think of a time when I was mindful and bring myself back into that time. Maybe try those things?! I hope it helps, because i understand how it feels.

          Sherryl,
          I have always had anxiety my whole life. My mum came into my first therapy session with me and she explained to my therapist what i was like as a child. And I literally had anxiety From a very little age. My mum had a very traumatic birth with me, my therapist said this could have started it. And I also knocked my front teeth out when I was about 4- 5 and that was very traumatic. And from that sort of age I never wanted to be loved, I never wanted to be touched, even when we went on holiday when I was about 3 a local said how beautiful I was and kissed me on the cheek and I said ‘YUCK’ and basically told her to go away!! Also, this past year and a bit it has come to light that my brother has a severe drug addiction. It came out at Christmas 2013 because he had been stealing our money, lying to us, being really aggressive towards us and he looked awful. So our family life has not been great. I have now shut down emotionally about the whole situation and sometimes I do that with other things in my life(work,friends,my relationship). What I’m asking is, do you think all those things could have caused me more anxiety? Sorry for rambling! I’m just going through the a lot at the moment especially at home.

  • Searching for calm

    Sheryl,

    Would you ever consider writing on the transition of growing up and feeling the separation / distance with your family of origin? I feel this very much with my parents. It’s hard to both feel very needy for their love, approval, attention STILL while I am 30 and happily married. It feels awful because they aren’t really connecting with me like we used to, nor am I with them, and it makes me feel sad. How do you create new normal relationship with your parents s a healthy adult and lessen the need for their attention? I feel like you would be able to expound on this so well.