The Cycle of Healing

IMG_6333We learn and heal in ebbs and flows, spiraling around the center of ourselves where our true Self dwells. When we’re in a cycle of growth, we burn through layers of ego fears and touch into that core place of wellness where peace and clarity reside. Our hearts are open and alive and we can receive and give love with ease. This is the gold of being human, and how we long to live there always! But alas, inevitably, when the false self senses that we’re growing “too much” or learning “too quickly”, it bucks like a bull at a bronco, and it suddenly feels like we’re back at square one. Then we cycle into the ebb stage, and if we don’t have a context in which to understand the cycle of healing, the fear-mind can easily grab hold of these ebbs as evidence to support our current anxiety story.

I often receive questions from courses members and comments on my site on this topic of  “relapses”, and since I received a greater number this week I decided to listen to the synchronicity and write about it. And I’m not sure that they’re really setbacks as much as times when the false self steps in with greater passion to try to convince you that it’s not safe to grow. Ego fears growth because it fears for its life: each time we grow a layer closer to true Self, we shed a layer of ego. And nobody wants to die – even parts of our psyche that we can’t see or touch.

Because we’re a linear culture, we expect growth to occur linearly. We step onto the healing path and expect our curve to progress upwardly, just like everything else in life (or so the culture teaches). While this may be the path that the culture entrains us to expect (first grade follows kindergarten; second grade follows first grade; baby must follow marriage must follow house purchase), it’s not actually how real life goes. In fact, if you look closely, very few things in life progress linearly. We move toward our partner and then we retreat. We feel in touch with a higher presence, in love with our spiritual path, and then doubt sets in. We think we’ve found our “calling” only to discover a few years into the job that we’re ready to do something else.

When we don’t learn to excavate the artifacts of Self through inquiry and reflection and the culture fails to teach us the architecture of cycles and transitions, we have no choice but to assign first-layer, obvious interpretations to our thoughts and experiences. An aspect of this is lack of proper self-education: we spend sixteen or more years in school learning about math, reading, writing, and facts, but we never learn to turn inward and understand the most basic facts about our inner world, things like just because you think it doesn’t mean it’s true and you don’t have to act on all of your feelings. If we were better educated about the cycles of change and transition – including the transition of healing – we wouldn’t need to jump to the most obvious, and wrong, conclusions when our experience differs from expectations.

For example, my work started with the wedding transition as I tackled the widespread cultural belief that if you’re feeling anything less than pure joy in the months and weeks leading to your wedding that means you’re making a mistake. Because we’re not educated to understand that major life transitions, like getting married, follow the three stages of transitions – letting go, liminal, rebirth – most people don’t understand how normal and even necessary it is to feel sad, scared, uncertain, and vulnerable as you’re letting go of and grieving your identity and lifestyle as a single person during the first stage of the transition. And because they don’t understand that and the cultural message is the exact opposite (you’re supposed to feel happier than you’ve ever felt in your entire life from the proposal through the honeymoon), the most logical conclusion to draw is that the uncomfortable feelings are evidence that you’re making a mistake

Likewise, if you’re suffering from relationship anxiety, your ego is going to pounce on your “setbacks” or retreats as evidence that you’re in the wrong relationship: “I was doing so well for weeks and even months but doesn’t the fact that I’m struggling again mean that I really am with the wrong person?”

As one course member recently wrote to me (shared with permission):

We haven’t spoken in a while. I’m a bit worried at the moment because after a few weeks of clarity and worrying much less, even feeling more love, I’m back to worrying and having anxious thoughts, which make me wonder if that’s my truth.

“I don’t like him anymore, he’s just not for me. It’s better if we break up even if it hurts. I’m too young to be fighting this hard, it must be wrong. I feel nothing.” It feels real, as I don’t have any physical anxiety accompanying the thoughts. I just sort of feel apathy. I’m sad because I had many weeks of clarity.

What do you suggest for relapses?

I decided to remind this course member that just a few weeks earlier she had sent me a very different email:

I wanted to let you know how happy I am. Most days, I don’t get thoughts about J anymore. Some days I do, but they don’t last nearly as long and don’t bother nearly as much, either. I’ve had about 2+ months of clarity now, and my main worries seem to be, “What if I want to leave later on?” which is my fear of loss. I’m so happy I’ve worked through the anxiety and chose to stay, because otherwise I would’ve lost the best man I know and my best friend. I feel like my old self but wiser. I am present most of the time and I rarely ever spike. I trust my relationship, I trust my choice, and I love us together. Thank you for all your work!

Isn’t it fascinating that the same person wrote these two emails? Clearly they’re stemming from two very different parts of her psyche: one that’s rooted in truth and one that’s rooted in fear. My first question for her was: What else is happening in your life? Are you in transition? Is there an anniversary of a loss or death on the horizon? Have you recently spent more time than usual around your family of origin? In other words, if you could pull the projection off your partner, what would you find that needs attention inside of you? Something is ready to grow and needing your compassionate curiosity, and you won’t discover what it is if you remain hooked on the belief that the anxiety is evidence that you’re with the wrong person.

If you’re going through a so-called relapse, the same is likely true for you. Remind yourself that you’re ready for the next layer of learning, and that the only problem is that you’ve fallen prey to the pernicious and alluring trap of projection by believing that the problem is your choice of partner. Remember that apathy is also emptiness, and emptiness is what precedes growth: the stillness of winter, which looks like “apathy” in its “deadness”, is readying the earth for the aliveness of spring. If you can avoid the pitfall of using the emptiness/apathy as evidence that you’re with the wrong person and instead sit with the emptiness itself without assigning meaning to it, you will find your clarity once again. Clarity doesn’t always mean happiness. But it does mean self-responsibility. And that’s where our wellness dwells.

Hang on. This too shall pass. And remember that it’s often when our inner world is the darkest that we’re growing the most. Like the seed that takes root in lightless soil and the embryo who grows in the shadows of the womb, so our psyches are shedding and rooting in their dark, underground spaces, always reaching toward a light that we cannot always see.

103 comments to The Cycle of Healing

  • ym101

    Sheryl,

    The timing of this post is an absolute gift. I started your course on relationship anxiety on July 1st, and ever since then I’ve been feeling a sense of ease, until today at least. I felt like all the work I’ve done hasn’t done much. But after reading this, I am more motivated to keep going. This will pass. I believe it will.

    Thank you Sheryl for everything you do.

  • LinsG

    Sheryl, once again you post just the right message I need to read. I am in that struggle now. As I transition from a loss in my life it makes me project to others around me, specifically my boyfriend, and brings in doubts and uncertainties. The course member’s story you shared above sounds so much like me- weeks of clarity and faith, then the anxieties creeping in again. I talked through them, processed through them, and I think I am seeing the light again. If there’s one message I have learned during some very tough times I’ve had in the past year, it is that little is truly linear, many major aspects of life are cyclical, changing, vacillating. How odd that we measure time in a linear fashion when as humans we are internally moving in circles. We must stop trying to find comfort in absolutes and instead embrace the transitions.

    • Beautifully expressed. If we measured time according to the moon cycles instead of sun cycles we might tap into a more circular, cyclical frame, which would then help us embrace paradox and uncertainties.

  • SB129

    This touches on what I’m feeling now. I’ve been really depressed and seem to be stuck in it. I’m at the one year anniversary of my father passing, and I thought it might be related to that. But I grieved multiple times for him, and am still a bit stuck. And I guess what I realized is that I’m scared because I feel like I’m too young. I’m really not feeling ready yet for big commitment. Not that I probably ever will be ready. I think when we started our relationship we had a good idea it had the potential to eventually lead to marriage, but I just feel too young and not ready. I’m only 23. I know some people are even younger, but I still feel like I have lots of growing up to do. And knowing this could potentially be it I’m not sure what to feel. We have tons of shared interests, values, vision, etc. And it’s the most serious relationship I’ve been in. I know she is a good person. But I feel alot of pressure, like this could be it, and I’m so young.Before I found any of this work we practiced lots of loving actions, we were quite flirty and told each other all the things we liked about each other. Now however, everything seems forced and even fake. Like I don’t really know if I believe the things I’m saying to her. She is so ready for commitment, and I am so not. But if I leave or we take a break with enough time for me to sort out my feelings, I might lose her. Gah. I’ve evaluated my fears, I’ve grieved, I’ve sat with them, why am I still stuck? And I feel so bad for being so depressed, even though I know it’s ok, because she just wants me to be happy, she said if she could take it from me she would, so why can’t I see her clearly yet? I know it takes time, but jeez.

    Sorry I wrote a book. Next time I will consider adding chapters.

    • I’m so sorry for your loss, and 22 is too, too young to lose such a significant person. Please know that grieving the loss of your father for a year isn’t very long. Again, we have this idea in this culture that the grief cycle should be measure linearly instead of cyclically when this isn’t how grief works at all. Let yourself grieve as long and hard as you need to, and try to have patience and faith in the process of healing. It, too, has its own timetable.

      • SB129

        Thank you. But what I’m not understanding is that every time I have a very brief moment of clarity or openness, I almost instantly close up again. Even after grieving it doesn’t seem to alleviate anything. And this whole time my girlfriend wants to support me, but I don’t feel like talking to her. I have no desire to alot of the time. Is it really all just part of this and will pass? I know it takes patience, I just feel like I’ve addressed so many things and it’s not changing or going away.

  • NC47

    Thank you!
    Your article arrived at just the right time, guiding me to the clarity I have been searching for.

  • J

    perfect timing and a wonderful post. I did the Break Free course a couple of months ago, and one of the recurring thoughts was ‘how long does this work take?’ As Jon Kabat Zinn says of mindfulness though, it’s the work of a lifetime.

  • Angela

    Hi Sheryl,
    Thank you so much for being you, and taking the time to give us positives tools that always work, it takes a very patient and special person to be at our side when we are needing a push to keep moving forward. I dont think i will be with my incredible and humble husband if it wasnt for you Sheryl. Xx Without support its impossible to understand anxiety especially if you talk to the wrong people. I dont share my anxiety easily with just anyone. I choose to do express my experience with whom i feel i can trust. I feel its private.

  • Northernlass

    As is often the case, this came at the perfect moment. Thank you Sheryl and thank you Higher Power! ♡

  • Chantal

    Such an important post. I am definitely bookmarking it to come back to it as a reminder if I ever feel relapse, as I definitely have in the past. It does seem that this is a common pattern on the forums right now, so I am choosing to stay away. Even though I still struggle, I keep telling myself that I am learning so much about myself. I am also thankful it is happening now, instead of later. I look forward to the days where I have less intrusive thoughts, less feelings of numbness and more of a clear and open heart. Thank you for all your work, Sheryl!

  • M

    I definitely feel like I have been relapsing lately with my relationship anxiety. Some days the anxiety is so bad I need to take a Xanax to get through the day. I think my anxiety is relapsing because my husband and I plan on trying for kids in the next few months, and that has caused some fear for me even though I want kids. A few weeks ago, we attended a wedding and the bride and groom looked so happy it caused to me to get this thought in my head that I haven’t been able to shake: Do I have more bad days with my relationship anxiety than good days? Have I ever had any good days with my husband where I haven’t had anxiety or these thoughts? This thought has been very hard to get rid of and I don’t know what to do. I feel like I will always have relationship anxiety. I haven thought about taking the break free from relationship anxiety course, but I worry it won’t help since I already tried therapy. Do you have any advice for me Sheryl? Thank you.

    • The Break Free course is very different from therapy as most therapist aren’t trained specifically in relationship anxiety. I strongly encourage you to take the course.

  • ThereThere

    Thank you for this post. Again, exactly the right subject at the right time! I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and find it incredibly helpful. Last year I got married and lost my mother just 10 days after the wedding… Being a sensitive person prone to anxiety, I’ve experienced multiple episodes of anxiety with all kinds of physical and psychological manifestations. Thanks to you and my wonderful therapist, I’ve been learning to recognize these signals early on and see them for what they are: a sign that there are emotions I need to pay attention to. That isn’t easy for me as I haven’t learned how to do that as a child, but I’m trying!
    In the last few weeks, the signals were there again, and anxiety has been kicking in for a few days now. I know it’s because of all of the transitions that are going on: I started working for the first time in a few years, my husband and I are seriously considering moving and it’s summer holiday time. All of these things scare and confuse me and make me feel out of control.
    This post will hopefully help me find the courage to confront my fears. Thank you Sheryl!

    • It sounds like you’re well on your way to confronting your fears head-on as you already have absorbed the consciousness that the symptoms are bringing messages about your own healing.

  • Kathy

    Wonderfully timed blog post, as usual. I am going through this exact thing at the moment and I keep telling myself that these recurring thoughts are not me, they are just the product of a fear-focussed mind. Lately I’ve been feeling like I am losing that battle so this has been a major help to me. Thank you again, your work is invaluable!

  • bee

    Hi Sheryl, thank you for this wonderfully timed post (as always). I feel I’ve been relapsing a bit lately, too. I didn’t even know what to call it but that is quite an accurate description. When I was doing Open Your Heart, I did feel more love and clarity. Several months later, not doing the work, I’m slipping back into my old patterns of distancing, which causes my partner anxiety and then sends me into more anxiety (his fear of loss reaction is anger). This post came on our one year wedding anniversary, a time where I’m reevaluating and wishing for the same happiness I had on our wedding day. That’s not to say we are not happy. I just look at some of my close friend couples and think, they are happier.

    I have some guesses as to why I’m feeling this way – but desperately want to nail down the “issues”. Is it my recent health scare? My disconnected family? My feeling of lack of purpose (I’m out of school for the summer and previously took comfort in being busy studying which as I type this I realize is a cover up for greater emotions I’m stuffing.). Does the Break Free course help tackle some of these inner issues? I know I have them, but don’t have proper guidance how to move through them (I’m ready for therapy its just a cost thing right now).

    thank you!!

  • Lynne

    Thank you Sheryl for sharing your wisdom with such clarity. Im in my mid 50s now and have lived with anxiety all my life. Each time Iv had to face change in my life Ive mentally fallen apart and could never understand what was wrong with me. Leaving school, starting work, dating, its all been a struggle! After meeting my husband (who I finally married only last year after living together almost 25 years) I lived on n off with relationship anxiety. Its a miracle we lasted but he has always understood me better than I knew myself. I only started to grow after loosing my parents (enforced change) which lead to me having a mental breakdown. Thanks to counselling, self help books and finding your life saving blog Im more at peace now than at any stage in my life. Im glad I made a commitment and got married but still live with regrets. The worst being I never overcame anxiety over childbirth hence we are childless. I still have relapses but know now that Iv still a lot of inward work to do and probably always will. So this post means a lot to me and Im forever grateful for your blog x

    • Blessings to you, and how wonderful that you’ve found peace and clarity. You have many more decades to enjoy your relationship, yourself, and your life!

  • Toni Hawkes

    It’s been over three years since I last posted on here. But I still read every news letter you send me. I overcame a serious bout of anxiety over my relationship four years ago and was happy and content for a long time. Yes of course from time to time my anxiety popped back up, but I knew how to deal with it having put the work in and was able to recognise when my ego was taking over making me believe the doubts in my head.

    In November my boyfriend and I got engaged and have been planning our wedding for next September. We also started looking to buy our first place together…. All very exciting stuff but also as I’ve found out hugely scary! We are now near to completion on the apartment we are buying, meaning that we will soon be moving from the wonderful happy three storey house we’ve been sharing with my best friends for the past three years in an area I’ve fallen in love with! And now all of a sudden I’m experiencing a different type of anxiety, not relationship anxiety or anything to do with my partner, but anxiety over moving and the place we’re buying. It’s a really nice one bed flat in a nice family orientated area with barns new appliances and a large roof terrace, but all I can think is what if it’s too small, what if we’re not happy there, what if we feel cut off in the area, what if my cats fall from the roof terrace! I know buying a place can cause a certain amount of anxiety but the constant overthinking and worry is not of a normal level. I suppose deep down I’m struggling with moving on, I know this is the next chapter in my life and a new chapter for my fiancé and I. But I feel terrible, I should be excited to be embarking on this new phase, and part of me is… But a huge part I scribbled by fear and I’m trying so hard to move through the fear.

    • There are no “shoulds” especially when it comes to transitions, and moving is a HUGE one as it taps into our most primal fears around security (home). Let yourself feel the fears and grieve through the process and you will find your way back to clarity.

      • Toni Hawkes

        I know that you’re right, should is not a word I need to be using right now as I’m just putting pressure on myself to feel
        something. I wish I could understand why I do this though, I’ve almost tainted our new place for myself through over thinking and convincing myself that I’ll never feel as happy there as I am in our current place. But I know I need to move forward and make this next step. Life is a constantly changing cycle and things need to move on. I just struggle so much with change. I guess there are a lot of big changes occoring in my life right now and I feel like I’m mourning the innocence of my childhood as I make all these really big grown up changes.

  • Toni Hawkes

    Apologies for all the typos, I typed this on my phone whilst travelling!

  • alison

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time, Sheryl. After months of progress in our EFT counseling I was feeling really connected and content with my marriage. After a major breakthrough just over a month ago, for a fleeting moment I just had this absolute certainty how “right” our life together felt. Since then, I’ve felt strangely disconnected and no “attraction” to my husband. I feel bad and wish I could will myself to feel more loving toward him, but similar to the client in the post, I just feel somewhat apathetic and have even found myself pushing him away. At the same time I’m in major limbo in my career, mourning anniversaries of the death of loved ones, etc. But I realized recently also how disconnected spiritually I have felt–I’ve felt so disheartened by current events and very cynical and dark from a spiritual perspective, which is unlike me. I’m trying to stay patient and just ride the wave without taking it out on my as usual patient and loving husband 🙂 Thank you, Sheryl.

    • Spiritual disconnect is at the root of so much anxiety, and it’s good that you can see and realize it. Hopefully have some practices that can help you reconnect to faith, gratitude, and service.

  • onedayatatime

    Why are some people more prone to projection? Why do I need to be more aware of the fact that I am very likely projecting or that I do it often and my partner doesn’t seem to project his stuff? Not sure if this question makes sense.

    • Silver

      Hey, because sometimes we are very preoccupied by our own thoughts and anxiety that we tend to blame our partner for everything that is happening to us. The reason you’re here is the very reason you have a heightened sense of thinking most other people are not. Thus if you’re partner is projecting, he/she might stumble in this website too.

    • We’re all wired differently, and it could simmer down to one basic difference: high sensitivity versus roll-with-the-punches type.

  • slowly learning to fly

    This was so timely! I have trouble letting go of projection, and, right now it is in full-swing. At least, I think? I project all over my relationship, in particular, during times of transition, or, after I talk with my family. I feel guilt whenever I talk with them…it’s like everything I do for myself, becomes my mothers pain. My fiance is so tired of me complaining about those feelings. He says “stand up for yourself and me” My parents don’t like him, and, make it clear through passive aggressive remarks. But, until I was with my fiance, I never took issue with their behavior. I think I chose to simply ignore it, like I did myself.

    I have trouble letting go of things from past (past hurt, past pain, past relationships). I then project and make him a bad guy in my head. He has sworn at me multiple times (not ok!), but, when he is angry I can’t seem to let him be angry. I keep holding all of his poor responses against him. He slams a door? Then I assume he has anger issues. Projection, right? I feel guilty about my family, and, I feel guilty about my fiance and how I question his character. I keep wanting them to get along, or, one of them to be “correct.” It seems I can’t find a way to both stand up for myself, my family, and my fiance, without feeling like I am the empty one who has to connect them.

    Do you have any resources for women trying to separate from parents, who use guilt and withholding emotion as tactics? And, ways to let my finance feel, but, not get my feelings intertwined with his? (I feel responsible for everyone’s happiness, even though, I know I can’t be!).

  • Nicole

    Sheryl,

    Thank you so much for this post. To me, it’s absolutely incredible to see thoughts change in response to connectedness… I am now feeling very confident in my decision with J and very in love today… (that might change tomorrow) 😉 Amazing how one day I can think I dislike J and the next I am very confident and happy!

    Thanks for reminding me that growth will have natural ebbs and flows.

    • Wonderful to hear and I’m not at all surprised ;). What shifted inside of you that created more confidence?

      • Nicole

        I switched up my inner work routine. I usually do one OYH activity each night, a gratitude list of 3 things, and read whatever book I have at the time (now it’s Why Talking Isn’t Enough) but this week when I felt bad, I meditated which helped so much, and I also watched Alain de Botton’s video on romanticism (WHICH IS AMAZING if you have an hour to watch it, I know you would love it), and read up on some old articles to remind me on what real love is.

        xo thanks Sheryl!

        • Great work, Nicole. It sounds like you needed a big dose of truth-water. Alain de Botton’s work is AMAZING. I referenced him in my thesis work twenty years ago and he’s been a strong influence ever since.

  • Silver

    Sheryl, I was trying to dewire everything said in the article. Isn’t clarity would make us happy? Not having clarity feels loving our partner half-heartedly and unsincerely. I Want to love my partner fully and it breaks my heart that I sometimes do everything, make my self busy to prevent talking to my partner, lie that I’m doing something. I sometimes want to leave my partner because of me. I said to her I’d do or eat anything to make myself closer to her. But fear of uncertainty, loss, pain, commitment and thinking that I don’t really love my partner and end up wasting our time hinders me. I have a very loving partner. I’m not courting my partner either, but I keep grieving loss of single life, praying to GOD for guidance comfort, and destruction of fear walls. Griefing of a very recent loss of my grandfather and starting saving up for breakfree course anxiety I hope I can submerge myself to proper healing. Thank you Sheryl if I haven’t stumble in this site I already left my partner who keep saying I love you to me, without me saying it back…

  • Breathing into less control...

    Sheryl, again a wonderful post as exactly the right time; I recently wrote and read out a letter to the man who assaulted me many years ago, and it felt like a real milestone; then in the last week I have experienced same sex attraction to women more than I have done in a while. The voices return to say ‘we won’t ever go away’; which means of course common sense dictates I should leave this wonderful man. All of the familiar resistance ‘ You were never attracted to him anyway’, ‘It shouldn’t be this hard’, ‘You are either straight or gay (a binary)’… I know these are lies but at the moment that is a rational statement with apathy behind it. I need to sit with that. I know because I remember counter-evidence. But I also know it is time for a new phase of growth, one in which I embrace my own femininity and sexuality which I have hidden and suppressed for most of my adult life. I know that I need to let go of the hold the assault has had and step into my true power; but that terrifies my ego. It feels like such a new and uncertain space – one in which I have to release so much control. So the frequency and persuasiveness of the voices builds, and I look ahead to a multi-stage process of letting go, of braving this new me. So in short I guess, thank you for the reminder that it’s cyclical. 6 months after I started this work I am still here and still working it out.

    • You have very high self-awareness and commitment to your inner work, and with those two resources you will no doubt continue to grow. Six months is a very short amount of time when you compare it to how long you’ve been building your fear-walls!

  • Hannah

    Thank you for this, I really needed it. My anxiety started to slowly dissolve and then began to feel like our relationship was really turning into the oat meal you love talk about. And then BAM fear hit really bad. I managed to get past it but still felt a bit anxious. I went on a vacation without my partner and felt incredibly scared about leaving him in case we would ‘grow apart’. I missed him when I was away but I still made sure I had a good time with my friends. I arrived back and couldn’t wait to see him. We had a lovely evening last night, the reunion was lovely. But this morning is another story, I have fallen back AGAIN! It is so frustrating. I know it’s because I have a lot of scary thoughts running around in my head. He has picked an engagement ring & my parents have given him permission to marry me. That is definitely what i want as I love him so much, he is my best friend!! But I am so scared we will grow apart because we spend too much time together. I can go from loving spending so much time together to bring really anxious because sometimes I feel depressed with the same routine of seeing him everyday and hardly seeing my friends. The wise part of me says that i feel depressed sometimes because of me and not him, there is nothing wrong with the relationship or him so it is not his fault if I feel depressed sometimes, it is my responsibility not his. I love spending time with him but feel sometimes I want to see my friends but get scared that I will spend too much time apart and won’t want to spend any time with him anymore. I feel like I cannot win. There is always a scary thought to come back with anything I feel suffocated with these anxious thoughts. Part of me thinks it’s just anxiety and even the thoughts of spending too much together is just all a way to get me caught in this anxiety! I don’t actually really spend that much time with my partner, sometimes I just believe I do. Funny how all of this is cropping up when I know an engagement is really soon!

  • Maja

    Sheryl, I like to think you wrote this post just for me. 8)

  • just me

    I love your work Sheryl and I want to thank you for everything you are doing.
    I came to understand that I really was the exception and that is why I did not manage to make any progress, because I was not listening my gut. My constant divorce dreams and leaving my husband because of my ex were telling me that I need to listen my gut. When I decided to separate those dreams stopped and I got peace. I feel that I am doing this because of love for nyself and I think this is loving choice for my husband and son also. This was a huge lesson for me that I learned to be honest with my feelings. I hope that my story does nlt spike anyone, because I know that everyone else here deeply love their partner and they are struggling because of fear, not because of being dishonest like I was.

    • I’m sure this will spike many people, but I’m glad you’ve found your clarity. Can you share with us what the red-flag is that led you to leave? In other words, what is it specifically about your husband that you can point to in the here-and-now that makes the relationship unworkable?

      • just me

        We have a lot differences with our values and lifestyles. My husband is very religious and his values and lifestyle differs from mine. I have made some changes in my religious beliefs after we got married. I tried to live like my husband, but that lifestyle does not suit for me. I cannot for example listen music I like or go out and take a drink when I am with my husband. Those value system my husband is carrying make me feel trapped.

        • Northernlass

          It sounds like it was nore than just religious differences here… it sounds like he didn’t respect your right to have different ideas about things. Differences in religion can work but you shouldn’t try to change your partner or their beliefs. You should be allowed to drink even if your partner doesn’t, or listen to the kind of music you like. Just my tuppence-worth!

          • I agree 100%: this is more than religious differences. This is a red-flag because it sounds like there were real control issues, so of course you felt trapped. What strikes me, just me, is that you’ve been commenting on my site for a long time and I believe I’ve asked about red-flag issues but you never shared this with us. Is this a new realization for you?

    • Brittani

      I really wish you would have sent a private msg just me. Why? Because I’ve seen your comments on multiple posts and they were rarely positive. I’m not saying go against your intuition, but you know the symptoms and you know what will spike people on this website. You speak of dreams and gut, but its really perception. A dream will never make me do something as drastic as separate. You’ve made the decision to separate because that was your “choice” all along and by choosing that in the beginning, manifestations were inevetible. & this may come off as rude, but I say all this with complete compassion because this will no doubt cause many people panic. Now, I have to stop what I was doing to search the site for everything you’ve commented on, read it and see where if could of went wrong, just to calm myself down.

      • just me

        I am very sorry Brittani that was definitely not my intention. I want to apoloqize. I trust that everyone else here are more on the same page on core values and life goals with their partners than we were. I know that I should have shared this realization more, but I have been in huge mess with myself and I have not understood why I felt bad. I have tried to compromise and think that I am just exaggereting. Of course I can listen what kind of music I like when I am alone, but when we are together it is not possible, because my husband allows just classical and religious music. He has not denied me from going out and drink, but I know that he does not accept that kind of thing and he thinks those as sin, so it bothers me, because I feel guilty when I do those things when I am with him. I realized lately that these differences might be red-flags..

        • just me

          It is very hard and complicated to share this realization because it has been a very painful process for me that I made those changes in my faith. Even not many therapist does not understand how huge and complicated process that has been. We argued a lot while dating about our different religious thoughts, but I was not then ready to let go about those religious values and thoughts I have been raised, because it changes all of your relationships with people from same religion.

          • You don’t need to apologize at all. This is your process and journey and if it spikes people then that’s part of their process and journey in terms of learning how to trust that everyone has their own story. I’m sure you’re in a very painful stage in terms of separating and I’m sending you blessings as you continue to love, grieve, and grow.

        • Brittani

          I 100% definitely understand your situation. I have a family member who’s wife recently filed for divorce because of a difference in religious beliefs. He wanted her to be a wife from the Bible days and it just didn’t work out. I don’t do religion at all and I’m sure if I would have met someone who later down the line turned out to be religious, I would have been torn as well and I wouldn’t have stayed unless extreme changes were made. The red-flag issues creep up in patches because it may seem as though it’s only religious issues but it’s much more than that. For instance, my family member’s ex-wife enjoyed (valued) wine tastings and hanging with friends while he enjoyed (valued) bible study and gospel concerts. Basically, everything that wasn’t bible study was a “sin” in his eyes and to her, that meant breathing, because we’re all human, so she felt trapped. I apologize for “flying off the handle” so to speak, but you scared the hell out of me with this one just me. LOL! No lie. I decided to sleep in a little later this morning and not work out; immediately after I read your comment, I leaped out of bed and was running before I knew it.

          • just me

            Thank you for understanding and your support. I were more on the same page with my first love with our values and that is why he haunted in my dreams. I tried to deny those things for years and fix those things in therapy. I came to realize that I will not be able to be real me while I am with my husband. He thinks now that I am going to hell, because I do not believe in the same kind of way like he does. These things are between us all the time. I am suffering from breaking our son’s home. This is a huge disappointment for me and I feel like I have destroyed my husband’s life, because he thinks that he cannot never remarry again according to his religion. It made me feel so guilty..

          • Brittani

            I’m really sorry about that just me. I suffered for a long time battling my religion as well. A family member of mine told me I would burn in hell for my lifestyle with my girlfriend and I understand the guilt and shame that hovers around your heart while recovering from religion. If you need to talk about it, I am here for you. & again, I’m so sorry for what you’re going through.

          • just me

            Thank you Brittani. Here is no words how painful this journey has been. I have been in deep depression for years. I feel that I am a bad person, because I am making this decision on my own and my husband has tried to support me for all these years. This feels so unfair to him, but I believe that he has not been able to be happy and genuine himself with me either. We both habe tried to.change ourselves to make this relationship work. I have felt so lost, but now I am coming to think that we will survive and our son is now the top priority and we both have to focus on him.

          • Brittani

            I literally can’t imagine the pain you must feel. How are you coping with this?

    • just me

      Thank you Britanni. I have now very good therapist. All of my family and most of my friends does not accept and support my decision. They have chosen to underdstand and support more my husband. I feel quite alone, but I really think that this is my oppurtunity to get to know myself finally. And trust myself without asking other people’s opinions.

      • Brittani

        I agree just me. You’ve done what’s best for you & I am very proud of you for owning your truth. You’re a strong woman an you will make it through. Also, while working on a project earlier, I thought of you when I heard this song. https://youtu.be/j2WWrupMBAE I hope you enjoy it.

        • just me

          Thank you Brittani. This is scary to be totally honest, because it hurts so many people. I need to forgive myself. Maybe my husband and son will also someday..

          • Silver

            Hi I respect your decision but I somehow disagree at this point maybe you’re looking for some huge time for yourself. I can’t imagine the pain you’re family are having. Keep hoping and pray to GOD for comfort.

          • Just Me, I’m going to ask you that you take this conversation offline for now, both to protect you and to protect others on this site. Sending you blessings –

  • Northernlass

    This idea of ‘control’ kind of spiked me even though ky bf would never tell me what to wear, who to see or not, kr how to practice any beliefs, but being far more practical than me he does try to ensure that I don’t waste food from the fridge, for example, or not spend too much money on things I really don’t need. He definitely lets me buy treats though and treats me himself very often. Rather than an issue of control, I think this is a good example of his sensibility and practically balancing out my less practical, more head-in-the-clouds trait to my nature. I don’t feel trapped, only like he genuinely loves me and like he wants me to learn from him as he learns from me.

    • It sounds like he wants you to accept his influence, which is very different from control and actually a healthy aspect of being in a loving relationship.

      • Northernlass

        Yes, perfect. It’s not a negative thing, it’s only that my anxiety uses it as a ‘story’ to latch on to. As this article talks about, I’ve recently gone into a period where I feel my anxiety has come back after a long period where it hardly bothered me (at least not about my relationship, which is wonderful!). I know that it always stems from my fear of loss, but I’ve been trying to be aware of any transitions or changes in my life which could be triggering this more difficult spell.

        I was wondering, maybe it could be to do with the fact that I recently made a wonderful friend with whom I connect and can do a lot of things. She’s the kind of close friend I’ve been craving since moving to a new town and country, but due to a relationship break-down she has gone back to her own country, and I suspect I’m really feeling the loss. Also I gave a lot into her own situation via emotional comfort and any wisdom I could offer, and maybe it all had some kind of draining effect on me.

  • Brittani

    I really wished you would have sent a private msg just me. Why? Because I’ve seen your comments on multiple posts and they were rarely positive. I’m not saying go against your intuition, but you know the symptoms and you know what will spike people on this website. You speak of dreams and gut, but its really perception. A dream will never make me do something as drastic as separate. You’ve made the decision to separate because that was your “choice” all along and by choosing that in the beginning, manifestations were inevetible. & this may come off as rude, but I say all this with complete compassion because this will no doubt cause many people panic. Now, I have to stop what I was doing to search the site for everything you’ve commented on, read it and see where if could of went wrong, just to calm myself down.

  • Yellow

    I was intrigued by the sentence, “Have you recently spent more time than usual with your family of origin?” Is this a common source of anxiety for those who suffer from relationship anxiety? I ask because it almost never fails with me: we go to see family and I spike all the way through the visit. I just didn’t think of it in terms of one’s family of origin being singled out as a highly anxiety-producing atmosphere. I wonder why that is. I have some ideas but would love feedback too.

  • Francine

    I’m struggling with apathy at the moment. It’s a horrible thing, and difficult not to meet it with self-judgement. I’m frightened that my lack of response to them is a sign of clarity, which I dread. I feel so desperate for a release…I have always been someone who cries regularly, but since the early stages with my partner, I just don’t well up anymore…but I don’t feel joy either. I’m hanging in there because I know how beautiful this relationship can be, even if only for a day or a week at a time. My most common thoughts are ‘If you loved him you’d *do/say/act like this*’ and simply, coldly ‘I don’t care’. Walking away would be accepting that I AM this cold-hearted person that speaks in my head, as well as accepting a warped view of reality. I will not accept that. I’ve been mulling over a question or two: Do these unwanted thoughts resonate with me because they are the truth, or simply because they are unwanted and I feel that they need my attention? I ask this of myself because I know that I think bad thoughts about other people that I love, i.e. family, but they don’t stick…also the question that, if most of my automatic thoughts are negative, is that a sign? I know that I have good thoughts about my partner, but they slip right through the sieve where as the bad ones are held. I apologise for the long post (it looks long on my phone…), I’m curious and having trouble sleeping tonight. Thanks for the great post, Sheryl. You write beautifully and always stimulate my curiosity (even comfort me before until Doubt kicks in again). Francine. xo

  • Francine

    I also wanted to add – I have an obsession with checking that I am telling the truth! Whenever I express an emotion or thought or opinion, I sense myself checking for reassurance from myself…for contradictory thoughts or confirmation. This is particularly present when I have the love of someone who’s good to me. I suppose because treating them well, being honest. Not being wholly true in what I say/do doesn’t feel good enough. I’ve noticed I can swipe this ‘checking’ thought away with friends and family, as I don’t have to make an decision about whether I want to be with them! Although, it all adds to me feeling like a fraud. I hug/kiss my partner, tell him I love him, say and do kind things for him and think – ‘where did that come from?’ – certainly not my conscious mind…there’s only bad stuff in there 🙁 . I am doing my best. I don’t intend to be dishonest. I don’t know what the truth is, so I certainly don’t intend it. I hope this isn’t true about me. Sorry for the double-post x

    • Francine

      *treating them well and being honest is important

    • Brittani

      It will work out fine Francine. Maybe try different tactics when the fear arises. Fear & Excitement are literally the same feelings, its our thoughts that decide which action we choose. Think about that feeling when you’re on a roller coaster at a theme park, the feeling of fear/excitement arises, but our feelings don’t know what they are until we give them a title(utter joy, complete fear) etc. I believe in you Francine. Also I obsess as well. I will literally give GOOGLE about 8-9 questions within 5 minutes and have several tabs opened in the browser. After the “checking” is done, I’m completely exhausted & frustrated; from reading SEVERAL articles while knowing its a complete waste of time because I decided long ago I wouldn’t leave my partner because I believe we belong together. It’s the sick and twisted self torture I enjoy from pointless hours of research. Its a vicious cycle. Article 1 spikes, me so Article 2 has to sooth me, Article 2 didn’t give a good enough explanation ,so it’s Article 3’s turn Article 3 spiked me a little so Article 4 has to give me hope, Article 4 gives me hope but I need a little more, Article 5 makes me think so I have another question; Article 6 answers the question but sends me into full panic; my heart is yelling Noooooo to Article 7, but who am I to tell panic no. Sorry for the long example, but I had to show you that You. Are. Not. Alone. It’s beauty in the struggle.

      • Francine

        Thank you so much for your response. I always notice your comments on here, and they’re so kind and supportive. You’ve given me a lot to think about (in a positive way). Can I ask, how does it make you feel when you refuse the impulse to check? I am exploring OCD with my therapist, and in its most basic terms she says, ‘OCD is anxiety/obsessive thought, followed by a compulsion which is intended to have a soothing affect.’ As time goes on, the incline of anxiety is interrupted at lower and lower levels, to the point where the compulsion becomes a minute-minute, hour by hour ritual. I’m currently supposed to be practicing letting my anxiety rise to its highest heights, and allowing it to naturally decline, and be thoroughly expelled. Funny, because as I say…I’m feeling very little at the moment. I keep wondering when the feelings are going to come knocking, so I can deal with them. All I know is that there is this grey veil over the lens of my life, currently. It’s subtle. I am on a low dose antidepressant (have been for 2 years) and I wonder how much this dulls my day to day emotions; only fierce ones seem to poke through…

        • Brittani

          When I started the refusal process, it was scary with a capital S. It’s like a deep urge an intense desire. Not checking meant pain in my eyes and I would be sick for a while, then it would go away. It’s like the impulse to do the thing that gives you temporary relief is on your forehead or something. I can explain it in only so many words. Like, before the intrusive thoughts it was always counting and air tracing and a need for order. For instance, the towels in my bathroom are color coded and in a neat line. One day I mixed it up a little and damn near passed out Francine. No lie. It wasn’t the mixing stressed me out, it was the “need” for order that caused me pain. Your need to heal has to override everything else Francine. Its a self commitment. I stepped out of the victim role and I decided I wouldn’t allow fear to control my life anymore. One thing I do know is this. You’re stuck with you for life. Right? You’re literally married to yourself for life. Why not choose to Love you fully? Why not choose to commit to you fully? Once you realize that Francine, you’ll be able to remove the “veil”. Its a life long commitment. Its impossible to actively commit to anything in life without work. & trust me, it will get better; If you really want it to.

        • Brittani

          “I’m feeling very little at the moment”
          ???

          Emotions are somatic processes i.e felt sense based processes which you can experience within your body. Emotions are physical and instinctive and are programmed into sub-cortical levels of the brain as stimulus-response patterns. When you see a cute child and you feel that mushy feeling, they are emotions which are programmed into our genes over many years of evolution. Emotions can be measured by Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), Blood Flow, Facial Expression, Body Language and Brain EEG Patterns.

          Feelings are labels for emotions which are more subjective. Two people can feel the same emotion but label it under different names. Feelings are more abstract than tangible and cannot be measured.

          We only measure feelings by observing others behaviour and then translating it using linguistics. People use different words to explain the same feeling and what makes the difference is the mental components (emotions) that is connected with the same feeling.

  • Jelena

    Hi Sheryl

    What an amazing text with great timing. I have a question for you if you could maybe clarify something? I currently live in another country than my country of origin. I moved last year. I noticed that everytime i go back home i am very anxious and i literally feel like when i was 10. Same fears. Same dorrows and memories, as if i maake some sort of quantum leap, i really struggle being in the here and now and i sort of fear death for my close ones and for me. Its really heavy and also i feel great sadness when i leave by not knowing what will happen to my parents when i am not there. So i always want to leave as soon as possible no matter howa part of me wants to stay. I feel torn in two parts (adult- i know what i have to do and a 10 year old- afraid and uncertain). Why is this so powerful and how to overcome or mature so these feelings are more easily delt with?

  • R

    The timing of this blog couldn’t come at a better time! I have just been through this exact thing. I came out of it before I read your blog, but I felt like it was written about me. I am that person who wonders if this keeps coming up even after periods where it feels totally gone, that it must mean something. But I love what you say about the further we peel back the layers, the more fear that is involved. My partner and I have been together longer than I’ve been with anyone. We are discussing big important things in life, and while we are not arguing over them, there is a tug of war going on about where we physically want to live, how we’re going to afford it, do we want children, do we want a big or small wedding etc… I am also close to finishing up a degree in 6 months, and life will be changing for me. I’ll have a step towards a new career, but right now it’s full of uncertainty. I was able to realize that this tug we are having, and this uncertainty is being projected onto the relationship itself. That fear is driving me to put up walls to my partner. That this fear is even blaming my partner for the uncertainty in life. When in actuality, these questions and discussions are life itself. I could not have these discussions and just be certain in my aloneness forever too. The two psyches really hit home for me. As, I go through journaling, I see the two at war with each other. But both need to be heard and invited. The fear psyche must be invited to see what is at the root. If I treat the fear psyche as a scared child, I can usually get to the root of the fear with some work. That he’ll scream and shout about something that is really not the problem at all, only the easiest way to get my attention.

  • AmJu

    This post is perfect because that is my biggest fear: “What if I want to leave later on?” It’s the fear that has haunted me ever since I truly realised that I love him and wanna be with him. I’m convinced that I’m gonna lose the part of me that wants to be with him sometime in the near or far future. It’s terrifying, I love him so much

  • Northernlass

    Wrote this today in my journal, maybe it can help someone:

    It’s easy to get swept away in a stream of anxious-obsessive thoughts that steer you further and further away from your truth. But there’s a reason why we let ourselves become sidetracked from this place of truth and centredness. It’s quite simple; we don’t like to be in that place where uncertainty is the only real option, where loss is always a possibility, and we feel like we are drifting without anything to anchor us down. We’d rather be clinging for dear life with bloodied hands onto anything that will keep us tethered, even though we are far better off drifting in that wide sea of adventure, learning the tools that will keep us going in a steady direction. Because if we’re tethered we’re stuck, and stuck is worse than making progress afraid.

    It’s easy for the mind to latch onto reasons why I should leave my beloved. The fearful mind is expertly skilled in weaving complex, believable stories which keep me ruminating for a long time. You actually prefer/ would be better suited to someone else. He’s going to control you and hurt you. You need to be more on the same plateau spiritually. He’s not ever going to want kids; you should have intituively worked that out and cut your losses before it’s too late. He needs to never ever lose his temper with you or treat you less than a princess 24/7. All of these are just manifests of the fear. My ego wants me to work out the answer to each of these ‘stories’, as once I solve the question du jour I will never be plagued with any others or doubts or anxiety, because I will have reached perfect certainty and assurance (or so it makes you believe). What’s actually needed is a turning from each and every question to an acceptance of uncertainty, of risk, and of putting faith and trust into my beloved and my relationship anyway. He wouldn’t have lied to me about probably wanting kids at some time (just needs to be taken at face value and trusted). So what if I feel vaguely attracted to someone else, I choose my beloved for a reason. It’s human to be attracted. It’s fear’s manifesto to create the idea of a ‘back-up’ person to make the risk less risky. Oh, and if he says he’s chosen me and loves me, I need to simply trust that too.

    The opposite of love is fear. Love trusts. Love believes the best. Love fights manifestations of fear for its greater good. It’s really hard not to give into obsessions, especially those on the relationship anxiety spectrum, and it does feel like you’re driving a knife into some tender part of yourself by not looking for reassurance (guess that’s the ego suffering!), but it’s totally worth it in the longterm.

    Throw yourself again into those deep, unknown waters. Let the current and the waves take you. But you won’t drown; you’ll only be upheld by the greatest love. It’s worth everything.

    • Brittani

      Tearfully beautiful Northerlass? You seem really amazing & it sounds like you are controlling your own journey instead of the other way around. I copied and pasted your sweet Journal entry into my own journal because your words are really inspiring. Thank You for your uplifting words. Truly Amazing

      • Northernlass

        Glad to be able to encourage you Brittani, this journey with our fear/anxiety/ocd can be be hard some times, but it’s nice to know other people go through the same thing as us, and to have Sheryl’s work as a support 🙂 <3

        • Brittani

          Sheryl is the greatest Northerlass! & yes, the idea that you’re not alone helps during rough patches; on them days when you just want to run run run and never stop; this site helps.

        • Brittani

          Northernlass,

          Were you ever obsessed with things like tarot cards or intuition or dreams? Over these past few months, these have been my obsessions; among other things. I’ve also been obsessed with numbers, synchronicity, horoscopes, gut instincts, “signs”, symbols and loads of other things.

          • Northernlass

            These things have definitely troubled me from time to time. Especially cos I’ve got a friend who’s really in to dream interpretation, and another who claims he’s pyshic. I’ve never been one to pay attention to horoscopes or even my star sign, but my friend recently made me aware that my star sign is a little like me (although not 100%, which helps me to remember that it’s mostly all nonsense in my humble opinion, (don’t mean to offend anyone who does believe in that kind of thin) even if it does contain a grain of truth in it somewhere. I egt scared that I’ll accidentally read a horoscope that says something like this year you’ll lose in love, or something like that, and that it will somehow be the truth or curse my relationship.

            In terms of dreams, my partner recently told me about one he’d had where he’d seen something green, and I was flipping out like; “O my god, O my god, what if green signifies something bad for our relationship?” I truly believe it’s all just manifestations of the fears we have, nothing to pay attention to. Sheryl wrote a good article that kind of thing, think it’s called, ‘A Pyshic told me to leave my partner’ or something like that xx

        • Brittani

          Very comforting Northernlass. Thank you for the reply. I thought I was the only one who avoided Horoscopes and things like that. I try my HARDEST not to dabble in dream interpretation and other areas because I’m a “all about science” person and when anxiety steps in, its a battle of the mind a heart; what I know vs what I feel.

          Thanks again!!

      • Francine

        Thank you for sharing such personal content. I remember the first time I had that sensation of clarity…I felt almost an imaginary, vulnerable ache; a sense of beautiful calm and safety; confidence in my place in the world, with this person; exactly where I need to be; I dreamed every night that I’d lose him. My god, I hope that’s the truth. I hope my mind is doing this because of fear…fear feels innocent and child-like. I don’t want to believe this awful stuff is real, is a true reflection of me and how I think of people…particularly someone I believe (somewhere) that I love. My mind ‘interrupts’ everything I say with contradictory information. Even as I type this. Tonight, I’m struggling with the urge to run away from it all. I don’t understand it. My mind tells me: ‘you never wanted this’, ‘he’s too young’ (we’re the same age), ‘he doesn’t even make you laugh that much’, ‘he’s not even attractive to you…’ It’s funny, Brain, how you never fed me these lines with such force when I was in a TRULY bad relationship. You never helped me then, why now, have you got so much to say? It’s like…when I’m fully accepted and loved, in a good, strong, healthy way, my mind fills up with this partner-focused chatter…whereas in an unstable, unhealthy relationship, I’d be too preoccupied with insecurity…

        (Thinking out loud, sorry) x

    • Beautiful; thank you; blessings.

  • Kathy

    Hey Sheryl, what are your thoughts on fear/anxiety being manifested in the form of apathy. I have a problem similar to the once expressed by your course member. I feel that I am about to sink into a “relapse” of sorts. I went through a period of just a generally good mood, the negative thoughts came and went but they didn’t seem to take hold of me as strongly as they were before. Now the thoughts/doubts are starting to come back but instead of feeling physically anxious I don’t feel anything. It was easy (relatively) for me to identify my feelings before as relationship anxiety because I was actually feeling anxious. I am telling myself that this empty feeling is just another form of fear-based thought but it’s difficult for me to believe that I am feeling scared when I am feeling nothing. This is the worst when I want to spend time with my partner. I want to talk to him and feel close but it’s like something is blocking me from doing so. Can you elaborate on how ambivalence can be related to fear?

    • Francine

      I’m going through almost exactly the same thing. I recommend reading Sheryl’s article ‘Anxiety and Emptiness’. x

  • L

    Hi Sheryl! The timing of this post is perfect. I have only recently googled my way to your blog, right as I am going through one of these ‘relapses’ myself. I am a gay man in my early 30s and have been in a happy relationship with a gentle, caring and handsome man 13 years my senior for the last 8 years. I have struggled with ‘relationship anxiety’ and feelings of doubt towards my relationship from day one. Therapy has helped me deal with it most of the time, but I’ve had a few ‘relapses’ of varying intensity. For reasons that I can not understand yet, I am going through a really rough ‘relapse’ episode right now. One thought (among many!) that has been really bringing me down is: “is our age gap a problem?”. I find myself wondering things like: “is my partner too old for me? what if I don’t find him attractive when he is older? what if he gets sick and I have to care for him – will I love him enough to actually do it?”. I find myself scanning his face and body for signs of aging (graying hair, flacid skin, etc) and panicking. I realize this might be a strategy from my ego to retain a certain sense of control in face of an uncertain future, but I can’t seem to make it stop. Have you ever written about this particular anxiety “trigger”? Would love to hear from other forum members with similar experiences.
    P.s.: Sorry for any English mistakes, it is not my first language 🙂

    • Thank you for your comment, and I’m so glad you found your way here. The age gap spike is a common one, and we handle it the same way we handle every other spike. Please read through as much of my site as possible and you’ll find many tools to handle the anxiety and address it from the root.

      • L

        Thank you so much for the reply, Sheryl. I really appreciate your work, it is such a good feeling to know we are not alone out here.
        I will keep on reading and exploring these issues in therapy. I am sure I will be able to deal with this spike just like I’ve dealt with similar ones in the past.

  • Silver

    I wonder what I need to do. My partner suffers from depression from her very hurtful past and asks me to help her. Thus results to more fears and trust issues, I keep changing myself to gain her trust more since I was able to betray her trust before by keep going back to my friends who hurt me. Now I am trying my best to mature grow and heal but I really don’t know how I acknowledge the fact that I’m weak, very impatient, apathetic, easily gives up, very insecure and no backbone when it comes to relationships, I am also having problems handling difficult and painful emotions and keep running away from it by having substance addiction. I want to embrace my partner whole with my heart but I don’t know what makes it happen this way. I’m scared that I might leave at some point in time and that I keep doing this for myself and not really loving my partner. Please understand why I keep posting here in this site. But I really want to love my partner not half-heartedly but whole and genuine not for my possessiveness or something else I want to build my life with her but I’m also scared about the future, I’m scared that I might get attracted and fall in love with other girls. :((

  • Hannah

    What does it mean if you are starting to feel really depressed after a massive episode of panic and anxiety? I feel depressed and numb to everything. My love for my boyfriend is not there, I feel kind of angry at this too. No love for my kitty (which is usually always there) feeling disconnected from wedding planning, feeling disconnected and sad about our future of children – which is something I have always been excited about. What is this? It’s upsetting.

  • hayley

    Hi Sheryl. I was wondering what your opinion on the fanasty bond concept is?

  • Agathe

    http://www.wholeperson-counseling.org/fear/anxiety.html
    I wanted to share this article because it helped me deepen my understanding of anxiety and name some feelings. When we can name our feelings it is easier to put conscience into the work that’s needed. I’m actually having a hard time doing my inner work because all the feelings that arise with anxiety feel so real and I feel like my entire body is trying to avoid change because it’s scared of what’s behind my anxiety. I have days when I’m ok and days when I’m scared as hell. I never have a month of quiet. That’s very very scary to me. I have found that I feel tightness in my body when my boyfriend is mad or sad. I have thoughts like: “he looks weird” “why does he talk like that” and i hate that i want to feel compassion not some negative feelings towards HIM. I geek very bad and ashamed!

  • Elky

    Thank you for this post. My friend gave my a copy of your book The Conscious Bride around my wedding 4 years ago and I am so glad I thought to check your website.

    I am currently going through a very difficult period of transitions and fears. I just finished my final year of my doctoral program in clinical psychology and am coping with adjusting to losing the structure of school and identity of student. Simultaneously, my husband and I decided to try for a baby this past year, despite loads of anxiety that I was able to identify as fear based. We got pregnant on the first try, and immediately following my initial joy, the panic set in. I worried uncontrollably about not being ready for a child, about whether I had made the right decision for the right reasons or was merely doing what society and family of origin expected from me. The anxiety of keeping the pregnancy a secret and not being able to talk through my feelings with trusted friends was also challenging. Unfortunately, I suffered a miscarriage one month ago at week 12, right before going fully ‘public’ with my news and as I was beginning to feel more excited and hopeful. This experience was compounded blow to my hopes for growth and reinforced so many of my fears. My anxiety has been unbearable as I try to figure out how to mourn this loss of pregnancy and plan to try to get pregnant again. I am so glad to see you have resources on pregnancy as well. I feel a slight sigh of relief reading your website.

    • I’m so very sorry for your loss. Please read through my articles on grief as they may help you navigate through this very challenging time. I would also suggest that you consider my Break Free course as it’s really a course on anxiety and intrusive thoughts (not just relationship anxiety). Anxiety will keep changing stories until you address it from the root.

  • Elizabeth

    Hi Sheryl,

    I have been struggling with relationship anxiety for a few months. It all stemmed from a comment my now ex-boyfriend made, that really really hurt. I told him how hurtful it was and he sincerely apologized and with the apology, he said I was the one. I forgave him and told him the same thing as I was certain he was (or is) my one! However, about a week after that I started getting awful anxious feelings about my relationship. All the same questions you mention have clouded my head. Am I really in love with him? Am I leading him on if I stay with him if I’m uncertain? I cried a lot because I was terrified to hurt him. I let him know how I had been feeling and he was hurt but stuck around regardless. Just a few weeks ago I decided to end things because I did not want to keep struggling with the anxiety. I did feel some relief but I do miss him and want to give our relationship another shot. Now, I am afraid of “relapsing” or falling in to the same struggle. I feel like my anxiety is burying my emotions and I can’t seem to get them all straight. I also read your blog about “Falling Out of Love” and it hit home.I think that I grieved the fact that I didn’t feel the same butterflies I had always felt for him and to me that meant feelings were gone. Made me feel better as I also believe I freaked out because our relationship was transitioning into something more serious. I became insecure and put all the blame on him. Not sure how to navigate through this!

    • Elizabeth

      And another thing…I want to enjoy my relationship without having all of these constant thoughts that depress me. I need advice on how to work through my internal issues and fear? I chose happiness and love but my anxiety is blocking that right now.