What If We Don't Have A Strong Enough Connection?

The following is from course member findingpeace28, who shared this on the e-course forum two weeks after her wedding. As soon as I read it, I knew had to share it with those of you struggling with relationship anxiety and, in particular, the connection spike, to offer you a lifeline of hope and a rope of inspiration. As she wrote to me when I asked for her permission to share her words her, “I honestly feel like if I could get through, anyone can. I hope to provide encouragement to those who need it, because I’ve sooo been there.”

***

I am finally in a really good place after over 2 years of extreme anxiety, and I’ve been wanting to share a positive, encouraging post for a while.

To those fighting, hang in there! You are here for a reason, and your fight, as tiny and barely hanging on as it may be, is still a fight. You may have every fiber in your being telling you you’re different, this is about your relationship, you’re the exception, this work isn’t meant for you, blah blah blah, but in the midst of that is a tiny voice saying fight… stay… Something is here, something you may not even be able to identify… listen to that voice. For me, sometimes it wasn’t even a voice. It was my actions. Buying the e-course, going on the forum, processing with others. Look at your fight.

I am the one that had doubt from the very beginning. I am the one without the infatuation phase. I am the one who was CONVINCED that I was the exception, that I was just hanging on because I didn’t want to endure a break up, that I didn’t want to start all over again. I was the one CONVINCED that my now husband and I didn’t have that “core connection” Sheryl talks about. Yet… I stayed. I fought. I spent days and weeks and months crying, feeling like I just wanted to make it through the day. The future seemed bleak and painful. I isolated from friends and family. I became entrenched, fused with the anxiety so much that it ruled my life.

I experienced most of my anxiety in my body– pit in my stomach, pressure on my chest, palpitating heart. The feelings came first, and then the thoughts. I felt like I had a secret life I was battling to get through. I felt like a fraud, that I didn’t love my partner, and everyone knew. I felt that the fight would be a constant in my life, and I would continue to question my choice in partner, continue to feel the excruciating anxiety day in and day out. That’s simply not true.

The anxiety was always in ME.

I want to list out my main obsession so for those of you who can relate, know you’re not alone.

-Connection was my BIGGEST projection, biggest spike/trigger. I questioned whether we had any connection at all, whether it was strong “enough,” deep enough. I questioned both our emotional and intellectual connection. What kept  me fighting, honestly, was when my anxiety first hit, I remember reading something by Sheryl that said connection was hard to decipher when connection to self was lacking. I knew my connection to myself had been murky for quite some time, and I hope/prayed that when I felt more connection to myself, I’d feel it with my now husband. And that’s what happened.

-Did I like him?

-Was he deep enough?

-Were we even friends?

-I had soooo much fear around communicating with other guys, for fear of having a “stronger connection” with them.

I also want to add that fear does take many faces. My fear, although at times was frantic, often manifested as cold, hateful, judgmental. There were so many times I was convinced I not only disliked my husband, but HATED him. Convinced!  I nitpicked, scrutinized, watched his every move, etc.

I remember thinking for months and months that either this work was a load of crap, not meant for me, or I was just incredibly stupid for not “getting it.” This work takes time, and although it may feel that things aren’t clicking right away, or even at all, it’s working. Be patient with yourself, be kind to yourself. Know that you are healing whether it feels that way or not.

I believe that everyone has different things to work through in overcoming relationship anxiety, and it’s not always identifiable, there aren’t always clear answers, and not everything has to be dissected. For me, I had so much growing up to do, learning to take responsibility for myself, my happiness, filling my own well, and learning what a real relationship actually looks like. It’s a work in progress, for sure.

I have an incredible therapist and a phenomenal support group of other Conscious Transitions girls on the e-course forum who got me through, who helped me believe that this lived in me, and I could come out on the other side. If I can do this, I promise you, you can, too.

Today, I can tell you with the utmost certainty that I absolutely adore my husband, his heart, his core, the beautiful, imperfect marvelous human being he is. I love our sweet connection. Our relentless showing up for each other time and time again. Falling down, then getting up. And then doing it all over again.

I still have anxiety, but it’s not about my husband anymore. It’ll likely always be a work in progress.

I never thought my life would ever feel this way, and yet here I am, heart so full of gratitude, so incredibly grateful I fought so hard.

Like I said, if I could do it, so can you. If you read back into my old posts, you’ll see just how anxiety laden my world was.

Keep up the fight, fellow love warriors!

***

To listen to an audio interview with findingpeace28 in which she shares more of her story, sign up for the free e-course Sampler in the box near the top of this page.

47 comments to What If We Don’t Have A Strong Enough Connection?

  • Kathy

    Really, truly inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    “Be patient with yourself, be kind to yourself. Know that you are healing whether it feels that way or not.” Literally made me tear up.

    • Findingpeace28

      I’m so touched that you were inspired by this. Yes, so much of this is inner work, and starts with how we treat ourselves. Keep going!

  • UnforcedRhythmsOfGrace

    I needed this. Thank you for the hope!

    • UnforcedRhythmsOfGrace

      I just listened to findingpeace28’s interview on the free sampler. Wow!, my story, almost down to the smallest detail. I imagine you understand how encouraging that feels to someone walking this path.
      Hearing it made me think of this Henri Nouwen quote: “Nobody escapes being wounded. We all are wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not “How can we hide our wounds?” so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but “How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?” When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.”
      Thank you findingpeace28 for serving us with such elegant authenticity!

      • EvergreenGal

        I love Henri Nouwen! Inner Voice of Love is my fav book of his… thanks UnforcedRhythms for sharing this. <3

      • Findingpeace28

        Thank you, UnforcedRhythymsOfGrace! I appreciate your kind words, and I’m so glad you found my story encouraging. I absolutely love that quote by Nouwen. So so beautiful!

    • CT

      Where i can find the interview?

  • Aliese

    …a helpful reminder! What if both partners have this anxiety, in different ways and for distinctly different reasons? Is it possible? It reminds me of Alain de Botton’s work on how we each have our own limitations/areas for growth that we bring to the exchange.

  • Elyana

    Wow! This was me!! I’ve been married to my husband for 3 months now and I’m so SO glad I stayed! When we first got engaged in January, I was terrified. I didn’t know why I was so scared, I thought engagement was supposed to be exciting! Mine was miserable. I cried so much. I was crazy for my now husband before we got engaged then out of nowhere I starting noticing all these things about him that I didn’t like; not fit enough, not cute enough, not funny enough, no connection, I’d pick stupid petty fights out of nothing, it was horrible. So many times I thought to myself, omg am I gonna have to end my engagement? Then I would cry all over again because I didn’t want to lose him or be without him even tho I was terrified of the future. I thought I was going to be in a loveless sad marriage. Then I stumbled upon this forum and it saved my relationship honestly. It taught me to stay, fight, and work through my anxiety and I’m so thankful. I’m now happily married, and I never thought I would be. If anyone out there is going through this, you aren’t alone! You are not the exception or abnormal! Anxiety is a horrible real thing that can break up a wonderful relationship. If there’s no red flags, I would encourage you to stay and fight. You won’t regret it!

  • LG

    This sounds a lot my journey! I thought, too, that I was the exception. When I realized that the anxiety was always in me, it was a relief because I owned it and could work through it. I also had some emotional “growing up,” to do, and my relationship with my husband helped me transition. It was hard work and messy. This group has been a lifesaver!!!!

    • Findingpeace28

      I had sooo much emotional “growing up” to do! And I would have never thought so until I began to work with the anxiety and unravel a lot of what it was about. This work is hard, messy, and in many ways a lifelong work in progress. How blessed we are to find this work and each other!

  • jacquimack

    Wonderful post, I was on the forum (now married) and I can attest to what findingpeace28 is saying. Keep going! Its all so worth it. I also had doubts from the beginning. I hope this post helps others in the thick of anxiety to see that they too can break free from relationship anxiety.

  • EvergreenGal

    This was me, too! I found my way to the Conscious Transitions community one evening 2.5 years ago in a tiny chapel, on my knees pouring out my heart in a Google search in the height of doubt and anxiety about the man I was dating, certain I was an exception. Sheryl’s writings, the e-course and the community on the forum, pointed me to the deeper work that the GIFT of anxiety was inviting me to. This blog has continued to point the way for me even now nearing our second wedding anniversary, and I’ve found the wisdom in this community to be true time and again… I was not the exception I thought I was. Even just today I saw a photo of the characters Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe and compared my marriage to their chemistry and wondered if we have “enough”… then I remembered what I’ve learned here and could break loose from that trap of thinking. My point being: the learnings here are omnipresent in my life and relationship. Thank you to everyone here and for the divine guidance that brought me here!

    • Meg

      Interesting you were comparing yourself to Anne and Gilbert.. they have a beautiful love story so it’s easy to do. But since doing this work I’ve felt that Anne had relationship anxiety (she put Gilbert off and even hated him for years) and finally came around when it seemed like she might lose him:-)

      “For a moment Anne’s heart fluttered queerly and for the first time her eyes faltered under Gilbert’s gaze and a rosy flush stained the paleness of her face. It was as if a veil that had hung before her inner consciousness had been lifted, giving to her view a revelation of unsuspected feelings and realities. Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one’s life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one’s side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music, perhaps. . . perhaps. . .love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath. ”
      ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

  • Natalie

    Hi Sheryl,

    I’m currently taking part in ‘Trust Yourself’ and an really enjoying it. I am so glad that this post came through however, as this comment is to do with a question around connection, and I wanted to honour the rules of the course forum by keeping posts relevant to that day’s question. My partner smokes pot, probably every second day. I’m not happy about it, as I feel it makes us feel out of sync. He denys that his smoking would be the cause of that. We seem to be on very different pages as to what this means for our ability to connect, process, plan and grow together. I’m really looking for some support with this and hope that you or someone can help me.

    Kind thanks,
    Natalie

    • If your partner is smoking and you’re not it would certainly create a sense of being out of synch since you’re literally on different wave lengths. I’m glad you’re taking the Trust Yourself course as this is really an issue of self-trust: for some people, a partner’s pot smoking isn’t an issue at all and for others it’s a dealbreaker. Hopefully as you continue to work through the course you’ll connect to your core truths and will be able to communicate with him from that place.

    • Cubby

      Natalie, I really, really wanted to respond to you because I can totally relate. I am probably a bit older than you, but I have been in two long term relationships with pot smokers (2 yrs and the last one just ended after 4 yrs). I think it’s relevant here because, for me, it was very easy to tell myself this issue was more about ME and my relationship anxiety. But I’ve learned over time that there is a difference with anxiety when it comes to your values. You can have much anxiety from the feeling that you are compromising values that are soul-deep to you and essential to being a happy, healthy, thriving human being. I’m not saying that with some work you and your partner can’t find middle ground (and you’re both willing to live with that decision). But if you get centered and find you really would like him to change doing something he enjoys or get him to stop, that is important information (this goes for any addictive substance). I was told by both partners that they truly enjoyed pot and saw it always being a part of their life (that’s something I commonly hear pot smokers say, no judgment – they just really like it!). At times I would tell myself that I could try to adjust myself and compromise and at other times I knew I was trying to change him into someone else (someone with more similar lifestyle to mine). I finally realized I couldn’t change him and I was compromising my true self (I can never abandon my true self) and I want to be with someone who gets me and we’re frankly just on the same page about these basic lifestyle preferences. It has been a painful process, because I questioned myself and got so confused about what is a healthy relationship. Now I really know that it comes down to some basics that have to be there first before you can know if the person is someone you can go on a long-term journey with. And as Sheryl has pointed out, if someone has an addiction, that is an important thing to find out before you start building a base with someone. I think talking about it with your partner is HUGE. I hope this insight helps a little or helps others out there, because pot is becoming legal in more states and people are beginning to accept it as a regular part of society, along with drinking. As always, we all have to look at how much we want these things in our lives and make (sometimes very hard) decisions so that we can be true to ourselves and honor others choices too. I guess I had a lot to say, whoops! This is the first time I’ve responded to one of Sheryl’s posts after all these years I’ve been reading them, so I guess I feel this an important subject. (:

    • Elissa

      Hi Natalie,

      Just wanted to pipe in and let you know I have dealt with a similar issue (my husband smokes quite a bit) but we were able to have an honest discussion and find a middle ground that worked well for both of us (I’m not totally against it and he doesn’t want it around when we have kids). It requires us both to have open minds and talk about what we felt was okay/ not okay but u can work to find a middle ground if both partners are willing. Just thought I’d throw that in there that it can work! 🙂

  • Shirley

    Congratulations on Staying the course and fighting the fight findingpeace28! I’m smiling and happy for you getting to the other side!

  • E

    Dear Natalie,
    I also have experience of a relationship (former) where drugs were a major issue. My boyfriend would smoke pot and take other drugs and it was extremely painful. If you need someone to talk to, I am here. You are not alone. There are support groups for people close to people using drugs such as http://www.nar-anon.org/. A book that helped me was Codependent No More by Melody Beattie. Best,

  • Angela

    Wow, findingpeace28 reading your journey was like reading my own journey. Except I never hated my husband didnt experience it to the fullest extent as u did. I was so absorbed in my own fear that I didnt nit pick like other people have said on this blog, and its not because I was doing something different. It was just my experience. I felt like i was outside my body on my wedding day that it didnt show on my photos. I looked blissfully happy, although I felt numb and not grounded. I felt like i was acting that someone invisible was guiding me through, I was not nervous at all. It was a bizarre feeling which I am sure you all can relate to. I was so glad i didnt look the way i felt, especially on our big day, special day.This was nearly 4 years ago December 21st. I am so glad I hung in there day by day. One thing I can say without a doubt is we are animals of instinct and if we didnt like and love our partner we wouldnt commit and stay. This is my favourite blog by far. Thank you 😊 😘Good luck to you all.

  • J

    Thanks for this, I really needed it today. We’ve just bought a property, and have a wedding in six months, and getting through the day (sometimes even getting through the hour) is a real struggle. I feel no excitement, only dread and anxiety.

    I especially relate to the bit that says fear ‘takes many faces’. For me, it manifests as disgust and judgement towards my partner: I look ‘down’ on her for not being ‘clever enough’, and the idea of her not being ‘clever enough’ disgusts me.

    I also relate to feeling like ‘the exception’. It often feels like my anxiety is so powerful and pure, and that the thoughts are so real, that it simply MUST be the relationship or my partner that is the problem, rather than me. It takes real endurance to turn to the mirror rather than the magnifying glass.

    One final thought. Those of a philosophical bent might find Kierkegaard’s idea of the ‘leap of faith’ helpful. Ultimately, we make all our decisions alone, in ‘fear and trembling’, which is both terrifying and liberating.

  • V

    All I can say is ME TOO.

    I had extreme relationship anxiety during my engagement & now (a year and change after my wedding day) I am so proud of myself for hanging in there, working through it, and confronting my demons head on. I’ve learned so much about my partner and about myself in the past year. He isn’t perfect, I am not perfect, but we have so much fun together now – now that my anxiety about our relationship has receded. I really connected to the part of this post about “relentlessly showing up for each other.” That willingness to be there time and time again for each other is really all you need.

    Stay open, stay honest, stay ready to chance & evolve, & you’ll get there. So much gratitude to Sheryl and this forum for guiding me through some anxious times and giving me a new emotional toolkit.

  • Alyssa

    This hit me on many levels because I felt like I was reading about me and my anxiety and fears

    The last few months have been horrible as my boyfriend asked for a prenup and we are not engaged but because we entered the relationship at different stages, he wants to have one but tell me he loves me and can’t imagine his life without me and he wants this over and tucked away forever.

    I have hated dealing with lawyers and the whole thing is sucking my energy and love of the relationship and I have gone through hating him stages and questioning if the relationship is right because it’s so hard and it shouldn’t be about money and things and when my anxiety is at it’s worse my boyfriend tries to calm me down but today I broke out in a stress rash and my DR told me that relationships are not supposed to be this stressful and that it shouldn’t be this hard and she doesn’t know the damage of her words on me or that I suffer from relationship anxiety and it made me spiral into a tail spin and wanting to “run” because she made me feel I am in the wrong relationship and she doesn’t understand my biggest fear is of “failure” so I never take risks!

    • I’m so sorry you’re suffering, Alyssa, and that the suffering was made worse by your doctor’s insensitive words due to her ignorance about relationship anxiety. I suggest that you be very careful about who you talk to about your relationship as most people, even those in the helping professions, don’t understand relationship anxiety at all.

  • LightAtTheEnd

    Having enough connection…yes…it’s a killer question for those of us suffering from RA!

    This is one of my biggest concerns, as through a lot of inner work I know what connects me…and what fills me up…and it is different to my husband’s way. I guess it’s my acceptance of these difference, as well as my reaction towards them that is my work.

    My husband is very supportive of me pursuing all my hobbies, needs and connections… I just feel like we have to compromise quite a bit to accommodate us both…

    My wounded self screams that I should have chosen someone more similar to me, more my wavelength.
    My wise self celebrates our desire for connection despite it all.

    Fellow love warrior x

  • Marlene

    Thank you for this beautiful post! I never had an infatuation stage either. I’ve been married for over 11 years. Lately I’ve been feeling grief and disappointment. I don’t feel anxious anymore but I wonder if I’ll ever get to “the other side.” Or maybe I’m realizing that this isn’t what I want. I believe I need to honor my marriage vow, but how do I do that when it feels like a violation of myself?

    • Findingpeace28*

      Hi Marlene, I’m wondering if you are actually on “the other side,” and what you’re experiencing is the grief related to the expectation of what you thought marriage “should” be like. Are you familiar with Alain de Botton’s work? He has been instrumental for me in reshaping beliefs about relationships and marriage.

  • Bra77

    Hey Sheryl! I’ve been doing really well with my relationship anxiety lately, but I’m having an issue but can’t figure out if it’s relationship anxiety or not. My girlfriend and I have been together for almost 3 years. She’s an amazing girl and has been instrumental in me growing up as a man. On the other hand, she’s been dealing with issues with her family and it’s really affected us and she hasn’t worked on them even though I’ve asked her too. We are long distance and it has gotten to the point that when I come home, she won’t visit me for fear of seeing her family. This has also caused her to be extremely needy (which I’ve only recognized over the past few months) and never wanteingnto do anything but lay down with me even though she goes out with others. This has been causin me quite a heartbreak because ashes an amazing girl, but my parents are pre-marital counselours and said if she’s not willing to work on herself and her issues, then you are setting yourself up for failure in marriage. This is not a question of whether or or Inlove this girl, it’s a question of isnit healthy to stay in this relationship and am I able to grow as she is super needy and won’t let me leave her side in. Place she is unfamiliar with.

  • KMM

    Thank you very much for sharing your story, findingpeace28. I just was hoping you could shed some light on how your partner reacted to all of the emotions that you were going through? Did he give you time and space to find what you were looking for? And how did you manage to take the time to work on your own self-connection/discovery while still contributing to the relationship?
    Thanks so much.

    • Findingpeace28*

      Hi KMM,

      What a good question! I think fortunately for myself, having found Sheryl’s work early on in our dating, I did my best to reiterate to my husband that the “anxiety lied in me” (even if at many points I really didn’t believe it). I did my best to show up to the relationship and also would tell him as generically as possible when I was anxious, letting him know I was feeling “off,” obsessing about “connection,” or just needed a hug. For me, my love language is physical touch, so I tried to lean into that as much as possible. He is definitely less sensitive than I am, and more of the “rock,” so he rarely personalized my fears, although at times he did. I tried to not divulge every thought that came in my head, with faith that it was about me. At times it was hard for him, for sure. I know there were many moments were he felt helpless, but I think saying, “this is about me.” over and over again is so necessary.

      In terms of the self-connection, I worked with my therapist, found the right meds, and continued to try to explore what makes me happy. It really is a work in progress.

  • Alyssa

    Since I’m back in a state where anxiety has taken a strong hold on me (the “ebb” of my ebb and flow, if you will), reading this weeks’ post several times has been quite the soothing white noise I’ve been reaching for. My mind is back telling me all the things I know aren’t true, and trying to convince me that I’m the exception.

    However, it is not nearly as bad as it was in the beginning. My three-week long panic attack a year ago almost broke me, not to mention my relationship. That panic attack led to months of debilitating relationship anxiety, which is when I found your work, Sheryl. I learned to expect the ebb and flow, the natural changes of life and emotion. I was thrilled when I expected anxiety upon moving in with my boyfriend, but didn’t get any. I was over the moon to experience a few months of bliss, the feeling of in-loveness, and the acceptance that it won’t always feel this way and the need to appreciate when it does.

    But here I am again, deep in the ebb and fighting through, just as you, findingpeace28, and all the other people on this site encourage. This community has been a godsend, an amazing support system that I don’t really have in my life due to people not being able to understand this work. It’s incredibly difficult, but I know I can make it through to the next flow and work hard so that the next ebbs are less and less intense. Thank you Sheryl for all that you do.

  • Lili60

    Hi Findingpeace,
    Thank you for sharing your feelings and experiences. Its very helpful. I wanted to ask if you come from a difficult family background or your previous relationships involved heartbreak. The reason Im asking is because I dont belong to either of thse categories.My family has always been supportive and I wasnt betrayed or hearbrokn by anyon in the past and my marriage was the first relaionship and it was traditional…yet I suffer from relatuonship anxiety after so many years and wonder if Im an execptio causeI dont have a disturbed past.Do you or Sheryl have any sugesstions? Ive been feeling so down these days..hopeless and in despair.

  • Lili60

    Sheryl I know you must be very busy but I would appreciate if you could comment on my post above and if possible address this sometime in your materials..because usually you talk about difficlt childhood experiences or previous heartbreaks which then lead to mstrust, fear of loss and relationship anxiety. I am registered on to the RA course but cannot find anything directly addressing those with a calm and easy past (have good supporting parents) with no experience of being betrayed orhurt by anyone in the past but yet suffer from RA. I would really appreciate it as I am very confused about this issue.

    • I explicit state both on my blog and in my course that, while most people suffer from some pain in their past that can contribute to the fear of loss and getting hurt, many others come from an easy and loving childhood and still suffer as the fear of loss is universal to being human. And, more importantly, the ego will look for ANY perceived loophole to prove that you’re the exception, that this work doesn’t apply to you, that you’re just in the wrong relationship and therefore, you don’t have to take 100% responsibility for your well-being. That said, it’s not possible to move through early life into adulthood without some pain, with being hurt by a sibling or friend or teacher or religious leader. The hurt might not have been an obvious or dramatic slight, but children are hurt all the time by well-meaning parents. Furthermore, even if your parents were calm and loving with you all the time (which, again, is almost humanly impossible), you could have still absorbed their unworked pain and unshed grief, as there is the intergenerational pain and trauma that is passed down to children. In other words, whatever anxiety, pain, trauma, or depression they didn’t work through consciously could have been passed down onto you.

  • Lili60

    Hi Sheryl. Thank you very for getting back. You are right. I now recall that you do talk about the past pain and especially parents unworked pain. My mother suffered from depression for a couple of years and that could be something I have been affected by. I need to go through the materials to refresh my knowledge. Thanks again.

  • Briana

    Hey Sheryl!

    This coincides with my main intrusive thought. My biggest fear is that I will cheat on my boyfriend because I will connect deeper with someone else. I have been able to shake all the other intrusive thoughts- just not this one. I’m having a very hard time believing this is fear and not the truth. In my mind I see myself willingly cheating on my boyfriend like a movie on a projector. With these images running through my mind I remain in a constant state of anxiety. after they pass and the fears pass I see clearly that I want to be with P and all of this is fear. But the thoughts have been so constant lately I haven’t been able to see clearly, and I have been really struggling to break out of the cycle of my thoughts and really trust it’s just fear. Do you have any wisdom or insight on this matter? Also, people say “if you don’t want to cheat, then don’t”. That gives me SO MUCH anxiety, because I am afraid that when the times comes I would want to. Help?

  • Christina

    This is the kind of stuff that keeps me fighting. Knowing I’m not alone, and that I can get through this even in the darkest of times. I’m having a very very rough 2 weeks with my relationship anxiety, and every ounce is saying leave, but when I read this it gives me hope. Thank you for sharing your story!

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