A Lifeline of Hope in the Swamp of Relationship Anxiety

by | Apr 14, 2019 | Relationships | 41 comments

A coaching client recently wrote to me to share the following (shared with permission):

Each time of the three times I spoke to you, you told me something that has been a huge lifeline for me: “If two people are willing to make it work, they can make it work.” You mentioned this to me three times and it’s been my mantra when I’m in the thick of things. That topic I know could help so many people, including myself. If you ever feel like you can share that beautiful wisdom in a blog post, that would be wonderful.

 

There’s no one else in the world I want to choose. My partner is the person I am choosing no matter what because I believe he is the most loving choice for me, although fear, resistance, and intrusive thoughts try to convince me otherwise. I’ve seen improvements in my growth and our relationship, especially since I’m taking more action towards growth and choosing him. Meditation and setting my intention to fall in love with my partner has been the biggest vehicle for me moving forward. Then, of course, understanding where the pain comes from.

 

It’s just that my heart still won’t accept the warmth of loving feelings that I just want to have for him. I want nothing more. My heart hasn’t opened up to him yet. But it will, I know this. Because I refuse to give up on him and us. I don’t want to choose anyone else. I choose to love him fully, no matter how long it takes. He and I are both committed to each other and we mean it. I know that if two people are truly willing to make it work, they can. This, in my opinion, is probably THE most important topic regarding relationship anxiety. It inspires people to keep moving forward in their healing and choosing and understanding real love.

 

I know I love my partner more than anything, it’s just my heart doesn’t know it yet. It hasn’t surrendered and opened up to it yet. But it’s also taken me a long time to truly dive into my inner work. I think I needed a lot of the information I’ve been learning to sink in and reflect. And then of course dealing with resistance. But I do truly believe what you said to me. Also, my heart has such a hard time opening up in general, so I remind myself that this is isn’t because of him. It’s something that lives in me. And my commitment to him and our love is what I choose. This life with him by my side is what I choose and he has done the same. 

 

This is the truth: Sustainable love isn’t about magic or luck or serendipity. It’s not about finding “the One” and riding off into the sunset to live happily ever after. Creating a healthy relationship is a commitment like no other, and the commitment is just as much to your own inner work as it is to learning about what it means to love in action.

What I love about this email is that it shows that this work of breaking free from relationship anxiety looks different for everyone. Some people find my site and reading through the blogs is enough to help them break free. Others purchase the Break Free From Relationship Anxiety course and find immediate relief, which allows them to spiral into the deeper layers of inner work without the overlay of the relationship anxiety causing agony. And for many others, like the course member above, they may read the posts or purchase the course but because of a variety of reasons – early trauma at the top of the list – it takes a while for the information to sink in.

As she says: “It’s also taken me a long time to truly dive into my inner work. I think I needed a lot of the information I’ve been learning to sink in and reflect. And then of course dealing with resistance.” She joined the Break Free course in February of 2017, had a few coaching sessions with me, then started counseling with a skilled therapist. She has stumbled and fallen and felt frustrated, just like the rest of us. But she has stayed the course. And those words – “if two people are willing to make it work, they can make it work” – have been a lifeline.

Inner work isn’t formulaic. It’s not a 5-step process that results in a finish line. Healing, like grief, has its own timetable, and true healing at the level of soul refuses to be boxed into a systematic approach. When we enter a healing process with an expectation that we’ll heal quickly and get back on the horse of joy, we’re setting ourselves up not only for disappointment but also for shame; the voice that says, “What’s wrong with me? Everyone else seems to be healing” can easily enter the running commentary of psyche. That’s why on the information page of all of my main courses the element of time is included. What does it take to break free from relationship anxiety and find serenity?

Accurate information + effective tools for managing anxiety + support + validation through other’s stories and posts + time + patience = serenity

None of this is easy and it’s usually not fast. But without the shame factor running the show, we can more readily give ourselves the gift of time, which is held within the commitment to showing up for ourselves and for our partner as we learn, on our own timetable and throughout our lives, what it means to love.

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41 Comments

  1. Dear Sheryl,
    this posts topic is something I am very concerned about at the moment, ruminating all the time and it spikes me really hard in some way.
    As I have commented at your last post, I already have suffered from nearly every spike of relationship anxiety (and just as well the gay spike, health anxiety, the what if I‘m a pedophile spike, etc. etc.).

    Right now I feel very numb, calm(?) and only depressed. And like I don‘t care about anything in my life anymore. I feel like if a doctor would come and tell me „you will die tomorrow“ – I would just not care. I have fought for over 3 years now to stop this horribly anxiety. I feel like I just can‘t make any move anymore. I‘m super tired and I feel like it will never end!
    Right now I experience thoughts like this almost all the time – „you just don‘t want this anymore“, „you‘re just staying because you‘re afraid to leave“, „maybe you‘r truth is that you want to leave and you just to dumb and afraid to admit this“, „you don‘t really have RA, Sheryl’s work will not apply to you!“ and so many more.

    This stops me from joining the e-course, which you have recommended to me.
    This „if both partners are willing to make it work it will work“ has always been like a lifeline to me, too! My biggest dream always was a 60-years or more marriage with my partner and a whole life together, like these cute about 80-year old couples/grandmas and grandpas you sometimes see on the street or even in your own family…
    But now I just think „maybe you are not meant to do this and it will make you unhappy. Maybe you are just meant to live and die alone!“

    Right know it spikes my anxiety very much when I read comments on your side here where people write about that they are in the midst of relationship anxiety and have all the doubts an intrusive thoughts – BUT beside this they are super sure that they WANT to be with their partner!
    I am super afraid that my will has changed and the intrusive thoughts are right an I just don‘t want a relationship anymore. At the same time I feel super numb and indifferent (about everything), which then leads to more thoughts like „well if you don‘t care and don‘t start to freak out and cry while thinking about this, this must be your truth!“ what makes me even more depressed. And so it goes on and on.

    It sounds so stupid, but I actually want to want to be with my partner so bad. I wish I could say as well (like I did before, even if not all the time in the same intensity!) „I am so sure that this is everything I want despite the relationship anxiety“.
    I remember that I once asked my therapist „what if I wake up one day and just don‘t want to be with M. (my boyfriend) anymore?? Without any reason?“ and she just laughed and told me that no one knows what will happen and that this could actually happen since everything is possible!! In this moment I just froze and my anxiety kicked in.
    And now I think back to this conversation with her all the time „what if THIS scenario came true now and it is your truth?? What if you really just don‘t want it anymore??? Your will/willingness is something you have no control over! It will just do what it wants and then you will follow it!!“
    I feel like I want to cry but I can’t. I just feel numb and terrible.

    And as if all this wasn’t enough, my beloved grandfather died all of a sudden on friday. But not even this sudden loss stops me from ruminating all the time! The last two days I can grieve his loss and cry at least in between, but then my thoughts leap back to the things I wrote above kinda quick and I freeze, I „close up“ and go back to the numbness and the endless ruminating.

    The only thing I could say for sure is that I don‘t want any other man. I want my partner or no one. I absolutely don‘t want to start over with someone new.
    But I am questioning all the time „what if you rather want to be single or meant to be single or to be alone?“ what if all this work you obviously need to do and this suffering isn’t worth it even if so many long-term couples or married-for-30-years-couples say it is?
    (I add here that I struggle with discipline and some kind of laziness in nearly every realm of my life – I could not or just hardly motivate myself to do things like getting up for work, doing the laundry, cleaning etc.)
    Because of all this I feel like I am absolutely the exception and the e-course won‘t apply to me!
    I although don‘t get much relief from reading trough this website anymore because I think all the time, while reading trough the comment sections etc., „hmm but this person is (despite the anxiety and doubts) absolutely sure she WANTS to be with her partner and doesn’t WANT to leave and you can not say that at the moment so you must clearly be the exception!“ and than I feel worse and worse. This not-getting-relief-thing makes me even more depressed or worrying, because after reading trough the blog for about 1-2 hours I still don’t feel enough relief and then I conclude that I must not have RA and be the exception. When I was in the midst of acute anxiety with all the panicking, heart racing, feeling like I will throw up, etc., I googled endlessly or called my therapist and talked to her for hours to get relief. Then I was fine for a short period of time and then It would all start again. I guess everyone here knows this dreadful cycle.
    But now I just do (nearly) nothing, feel nothing – just numbness-, don’t know what’s real anymore. And don’t get relief anymore.

    I don’t understand myself. Why am I such an idiot? Why would I not want to be with my wonderful, loving partner? He really is everything I always wished for in a partner – loyal, committed, caring, supportive, loving, and so much more. He has character and we have been through so much already.

    Moments of clarity and relief, where I feel happy about my boyfriend and our life together, are very very rare at the moment. I remember one moment last week, I was at work and thought about him proposing and us getting married, and I felt warm and happy and had to smile. But this moment lastet only for like, a minute?? I don’t know.
    Right now I couldn’t picture getting married, having kids, etc. Everything feels far far away and unreachable and unreal.

    Sheryl I am so sorry for rambling and spamming under your blog post.
    Do you have any help for me or any advice? I feel so helpless right now. I don’t know what to do anymore.

    Reply
    • In my experience and those of others, in order to heal from the anxiety you need to accept the uncertainty and risk of relationships, which includes the possibility of loss. I think once you can bring yourself to say, “Whatever happens, I will be okay, and I’m deciding to commit and take the risk anyway,” the constant anxiety begins to lessen. But this needs to be done everyday, all the time, since intrusive thoughts will desperately try to get your attention and perseverate on what ifs.

      Reply
      • Thank you for your reply, A.
        I am not sure what’s exactly meant by „the risk of loss“?
        That your partner could (will) die one day? That he could leave?
        Or also that you all of a sudden could just not want the relationship anymore one day (maybe even without any reason), like my therapist said it could happen?

        Do you think that I should join the e-course or rather that I would benefit from it?

        Reply
        • What I meant by the risk of loss is that the relationship may not work out. That you might lose him. There aren’t any guarantees in relationships, and in order to move forward we need to accept the possibility that something could go wrong – and if it does, we can handle it.

          I’d definitely recommend the course. I think it’d help you tremendously. Sheryl goes over all of this in depth and more some.

          Reply
          • Thank you again, A.
            I guess I just have to do the course – no matter how afraid I am.
            I feel a little bit calmer now and hope that I can get some sleep, cause I am ill since friday night/saturday morning. Maybe it’s just a little too much to bear at the moment – the sudden loss of my grandpa, the illness and the always present anxiety in its various manifestations.

            I hope I will benefit from the course and will learn more about real love there. Maybe it’s not enough for me to just read trough Sheryl’s wonderful blog, maybe I need even more depth.

            Reply
            • You’re welcome! That’s what I would recommend. It sounds like you’re processing a loss as it is with your grandpa. In fact, it’s when I lost my grandpa in April 2016 that my relationship anxiety became too much to bear and I signed up for the course. The loss of my grandpa, a very good friend of mine, was incredibly painful, and made me much more afraid of losing my boyfriend (now fiance). The course addresses how to handle your fear/anxiety, but also how to process complex emotions like grief/loss/uncertainty. It might seem like a lot of money upfront, but remember that therapy sessions run $100-150 each, and this is material that you can access whenever you need to. I consistently look back on the course content. It teaches how to effectively manage anxiety and feel/release big feelings. ?

              Reply
              • Thank you for your wise and compassionate support, A. It makes an enormous difference when someone is suffering as AprilLove is and, as you can see, serves as a lifeline. Blessings to you.

                Reply
    • I am living in this relationship anxiety for 10 months. It started when I graduated from my PhD, changed the country and got proposal from my lovely boyfriend of 5 years.. all these transitions happened exactly within a month, so I did not have any enough time to process all the changes.. Till here, transitions, post-proposal anxiety and the other symptoms perfectly fit with the many people’s story.. BUT it is 10 months and me as well I am very very tired and sad.. so I own exactly the same situation word by word what you wrote.. the fear of facing to be the one who is indeed potentially diminishing the relationship, who is failing to recover ‘the love’, who is betraying the once upon a time adult-self dreams like life-long relationship, taking care of the lovely partner, kids.. but still I am here everyday in this blog, and I felt relaxed to coincide by your situation even both are a bit pessimistic.. so thanks to give me some hope, because you are not exception so I am not

      Reply
  2. Yes, everyone’s path to healing is different. I thought just understanding the material intellectually would be enough, but for many, it involves a lot of practice and patience. Every single day, the intrusive thoughts and doubt will try to convince us to leave our loving relationships – and every day we get to decide how to respond to those thoughts and feelings. It’s difficult, but so empowering and liberating.

    My recent engagement has been my true call to healing. I don’t think I’ve been doing the work deeply enough, and this transition is my true “dark night of the soul” experience where I am being called to really do the work and change the habits that don’t serve me.

    Reply
    • You’re welcome! That’s what I would recommend. It sounds like you’re processing a loss as it is with your grandpa. In fact, it’s when I lost my grandpa in April 2016 that my relationship anxiety became too much to bear and I signed up for the course. The loss of my grandpa, a very good friend of mine, was incredibly painful, and made me much more afraid of losing my boyfriend (now fiance). The course addresses how to handle your fear/anxiety, but also how to process complex emotions like grief/loss/uncertainty. It might seem like a lot of money upfront, but remember that therapy sessions run $100-150 each, and this is material that you can access whenever you need to. I consistently look back on the course content. It teaches how to effectively manage anxiety and feel/release big feelings. 🙂

      Reply
      • Thank you for your wise and compassionate support, A. It makes an enormous difference when someone is suffering as AprilLove is and, as you can see, serves as a lifeline. Blessings to you.

        Reply
  3. I never thought I would come out of the swamp thicket of paralyzing fear and anxiety. I have struggled with intrusive thoughts since early childhood, having periodic bouts and exhausting battles with them ever since. Through reading your blog, seeking God, and learning how to do the inner work, I have shed layers of wounded self and can call it’s bluff with more fluidity and resolve than ever before. I can look in my sweet partners eyes and say, “I have been projecting my self judgement on to you and everyone else. Thank you for loving me through it.” Sheryl, your work has helped me find my footing as an adult. I feel the growth in new and wonderful ways. I never thought I would be able to say that. To those still struggling, there truly is beauty in the darkness. Paint it. Plant it. Write it. Gently dig in the soil of soul to find where you were hurt. I know it feels daunting to dig that deep, and petrifying what you may find there. But you will find that you are loved and held, by the God who made you and this partner that is choosing you and that you CAN learn to choose back. You can learn to swim to the surface in a shorter time, not getting stuck in the hell current for days and weeks and months and years at a time. Spring will come. Love and prayers, from a friend you have not met. Healing, hope, and love to all.

    Reply
    • Such beauty, generosity, poetry, and wisdom, Kate! I have a soul-wide smile… thank you for sharing this here, and many blessings to you.

      Reply
    • This is beautiful and inspiring! Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
  4. I agree that my own fear causes me to create distance. I could open myself and try with my husband, yet with him…he is verbally abusive and harsh. That in itself causes distrust and I cannot open and I wont because it’s not safe. He is not emotionally supportive and the things he says are very angry and hurtful. If he were interested in growing and improving who he is…that would be one thing…he is not. So I am left now deciding on divorce.

    Reply
    • Of course you can’t open without safety; that’s exactly when we need to listen to fear. Verbal abuse is a red flag and I urge you to seek couples’ counseling if you’re both open. You can find a trained EFT therapist here:

      http://www.iceeft.com/index.php/find-a-therapist

      Reply
  5. Wow. This post spoke to me. I have really been feeling at the end of my rope with the anxiety and thinking the relationship is toast, or I’m too broken to make our marriage work. I have, time and again, over the past year, pulled out of the anxiety for a few days, a couple of weeks, and then i either get triggered or an intrusive thought knocks me back on my butt. I’ve gotten to the point recently where I thought the times I’d felt relief were placebo and the depression and rumination is what is real. When I used to be the opposite – anxiety and depression were just things to work through and my baseline happy was real. Even though I feel discouraged and exhausted, this post is helpful. Thank you.

    Reply
    • I’m glad it was helpful, Nancy. This work can take time, but the key piece is breaking free from the projection that says that the problem is your partner. If you’re doing your inner work every day, which means practicing the tools I teach in the course, you will start to break free for longer periods of time.

      Reply
  6. That was so helpful! I am now in a phase where I don’t have feelings of anxiety anymore, I just feel numb and sometimes afraid that I’m a bad person for obsessing about my partner. All this is because now it flipped into “he doesn’t love me and want to leave”. So now I’m constantly looking for evidence that he loves me or that we’re ok. When he travels or goes out with friends, I feel bad and abandoned and obsess about him being with someone else. This makes me feel like I’m controlling him and I’ve done some shameful compulsions that lead him to think I was controlling him too. I never wanted him to feel controlled and this is making me so sad and guilty! But I have noticed that it’s not about controlling, it’s about wanting to be sure that he won’t leave me. This is so hard because now I’m feeling numb and the thoughts of “you’re faking it, you’re a bad person and you’re like those toxic persons” and it’s terrible not to feel anxiety and think that that may be true! I just don’t know how to cope with that, and I’m trying to just not give into compulsions but it’s so challenging. Any advice or thoughts would be much appreciated… Thank you.

    Reply
    • Being afraid of losing your partner is the other side of the coin of being afraid of losing yourself, and both stem from low self-trust and self-worth. If you can’t afford the Break Free course, I encourage you to read through as many of my posts as possible. You’ll glean many tools and essential information to help you stabilize.

      Reply
    • Dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) as well as the blog posts and courses on this website could be helpful to you in dealing with the fear of abandonment and attempts at lowering the anxiety associated with that fear. There are many books and workbooks on DBT, as well as low-cost or free apps for iPhone or Android. “Reinventing Your Life” by Jeffrey Young is also a good book. You are not a bad person! You are just a person in pain and need help. <33

      Reply
      • Thank you for your support and resources, Gron. It’s appreciated. While both DBT and CBT can teach you how to work effectively with thoughts, they don’t teach how to attend to the other three realms of self: physical, emotional, and spiritual (or soul). When we gloss over these other realms, we can heal to a certain degree, but we’re not healing from the root.

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  7. I truly appreciate the words you spoke to your coaching client. Having read your Conscious Transitions emails for years and then purchasing the “Break Free From Relationship Anxiety ” course and still struggling, I can relate to your client. I’m grateful to that person for asking you to write about the advice you gave because I’m reading it on a day that I needed to hear it. Just hours before I was speaking with my partner about how difficult it is for me to accept love. I spoke about my early trauma and how I am “wired” for attachment issues. My partner is a grad school counselor educator and seasoned therapist and “gets” the wiring. Still, she believes in us and does not believe she is speaking out of co-dependency. This coaching client and your advice gave me just enough confirmation to give me the hope that I’m not irreversibly broken. I thank you both.

    Reply
    • I’m so glad it was helpful, Mike. You are absolutely NOT broken, and what a blessing that your partner knows this and can hold the faith for both of you right now.

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  8. Sheryl,

    What a beautiful post and sentiment. I also believe this extends to family and friends, as well (I’ve found that my highly sensitive/anxious personality has affected many types of relationships, not just romantic). I love that I can so often apply your teachings to all aspects of my life.

    And to those who are struggling with anxiety centered on romantic relationships, please consider the “Break Free” course: I cannot recommend it highly enough. I read the comments on Sunday nights and the pain and fear is palpable. The inner work, the articles and videos, and the community of like-minded individuals in the Break Free program is worth every dollar, every hour of study, every moment of doubt. For me, it was a bit like coming home. Like Maris, I never felt as though I belonged (or that I was born without an instruction manual). It is a breath of fresh air to know that we are not alone.

    Thank you, Sheryl, for creating this community and for offering a program that is loving, calm, and wise.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful words, Katie. It’s always a joy to hear from you, and yes, these teachings do apply to so many areas in life! Sending love.

      Reply
  9. If it’s any consolation to anyone reading it really does get better!

    I had terrible relationship anxiety pretty much as soon as I met my partner (between the 2nd and 3rd date it began). People told me it ‘must be a sign’ and to move on to someone it would be easier with. But I knew that somewhere deep under my resistant and twisted self I was choosing her. I even broke things off at one point and I rapidly knew I’d made a terrible mistake. Although I didn’t want the constant gnawing fear and the seizing anxiety, I still wanted her.

    Thankfully I discovered Sheryl. The first day I did her course and met my partner was the first time I experienced feeling ‘in love’, of course it rapidly dissipated and I was back to anxiety, but I knew the hope was there.

    We’ve been together for over 4 years now and it feels so easy to surrender to my overwhelming love for her. But for me it took time. One year of intense work – near daily journaling from ‘Break Free’ and weekly therapy, another year of journaling the not infrequent severe spikes, another year to learn to recognise the more subtle signs, and another to learn to keep gently tending to ones whole self and any blips which appear.

    I felt very abnormal for having my anxiety so early on – I think society is very focussed this way – but I know appreciate that it has spared me from engagement anxiety and for that I am very grateful for the early rough road.

    Shreyl’s words about choice and two people wanting to make it work are so true. And ultimately make for such rich happiness. We get quite regular comments from I guess ‘romance’ couple (couples who fell in love just like on the TV and lived accordingly!) about how we are so happy at this stage in, and honestly it’s choosing each other every day. Every loving act that Sheryl teaches, returns it’s bounty with time.

    Wishing you all luck with your journey. Don’t be tempted to spike and compare your journey, we’re all different with unique histories, but I do feel confident to say that with time and choice your suffering will ease and your low will grow.

    Reply
    • What a beautiful offering, Sarah! I have chills and a huge smile on my face. It truly does take dedication and commitment, but with the right tools and support we can absolutely break through the fears that keep us separate from love. Thank you so much for sharing your story here. And yes, our culture really does have quite a lot of opinions about doubt showing up early on!

      Reply
  10. Sheryl, what do you think about superstitions? I’m sorry about this, but I have magical thinking (mostly because I grew up in an environment with a lot of superstitions) and today I used rock salt and accidentally spilled it and some fell on the floor. I didn’t realize that until I was out of the house and it was too late. I started to ruminate because superstitions says that you have to throw the spilled salt on your left shoulder to prevent the bad luck it would cause when you spill it. Now it’s bothering me so much because it feels real that something very wrong might happen and I don’t know what to do. This kind of thoughts haunts me since my childhood and now I’m here worried that something bad beyond my control can happen to me. I also have relationship anxiety, so you already know what my tricky mind is telling me. Please if you have some insight, help me.

    Reply
    • As I think I commented to you on another post, being superstitious is another way that we outsource our self-trust. I encourage you to read through the Self Trust Collection and start a daily practice, like journaling or meditation (or, ideally, both) so that you can learn to fill your well of self and slowly, over time, let go of the superstitious beliefs that are rooted in trying to create a false sense of control.

      Reply
  11. Sheryl, what a fabulous and straight to the point post. When I started reading your posts I had the thought of ‘I choose to stay’ to get me through the hard times. I then took this to the next level when I started the break free course and gave into the confidence I knew and remembered about my husband that if I tried, he’d be there to help.
    I also want to concur with Katie, the break free course is amazing. It has given me confidence to accept being me.
    From reading this post especially it brought a thought into my mind about my husband (12 years married 27 years together), I’d choose him everytime because I know he’d be there for me to guide the ship of our relationship in the direction we want it to go.
    Thank you for your work.

    Reply
    • Beautiful, Donna. Thank you for sharing your experience here, and it’s especially meaningful to those in longterm relationships who think this work doesn’t apply to them. The ego is always looking for that escape hatch! Blessings to you.

      Reply
    • Hi Donna
      I read that you’ve been with your husband for 27 years. How many years into your relationship did the anxiety strike? Also did u get any relapse?

      Reply
  12. Thank you so much for the post Sheryl!
    I had initially been scared of beginning a relationship with my partner, but we ended up getting together. I really liked how nice and respectful he was to me. But I have felt that only a few times throughout our relationship have I opened my heart up to him, and when I did, it felt warm, safe, right and deep. But then a lot of the time I feel uneasy, like there is always something sitting (a decision to be made) in my stomach. I find myself looking into the way he moves his body, cuts food, and small things like that make me feel so heavy/fearful – and then I think about the previous relationships I have had (where I was always the pursuer), and I never felt that way, I was always “in love” with the previous people. When my partner and I go away for a weekend trip and everything goes perfectly, I feel extremely connected. But when we come back to reality, I get more easily distressed, I get sensitive to the way his voice sounds over the phone vs. in person (which I get spiked sometimes speaking over the phone). A part of me wants to continue to “make this work” as mentioned in the above post, but the other part of me feels scared/heavy that I may feel more at ease/happier with someone that is funnier/more positive/more social (and I do find myself liking others of that nature throughout my relationship with my partner). Is this fear and anxiety speaking or is this my “intuition” saying to leave? Thank you so much. You have been a lifeline for me in the midst of my anxiety.

    Reply
  13. Thank you for sharing this wisdom with us, Sheryl. I’ve been thinking about this lately, and I too believe that when two people truly love each other and are committed to make their love work, the impossible becomes possible, and even the most difficult problems can be solved, together. Love is not a miracle that magically appears in our lives: but I do believe that when we commit to real love, it can create small miracles inside us and the relationship: like “magically” getting interested and starting to like some things that couldn’t be more far from our own interests, but have always been great passions for our partners; or starting to share the same dreams, and adopting the same values (of course there has to be some base of shared values and directions in life at the start of the relationship, but I’ve noticed in my own relationship that as time passes and we commit to real love, we grow closer and we grow “perfect” for each other. “We grow perfect for each other”. That’s the title of a poetry I wrote last night, thinking about this very topic 🙂 )

    Reply
      • Thank YOU, Sheryl! For your infinite wisdom and for taking the time to read every comment and even reply ? Sending much love your way!

        Reply
  14. Ah, sorry for double-commenting, but I also wanted to comment on the topic of choice! Some days ago I had a very interesting dream that I believe wanted to get my attention on how I choose to stay on this relationship and the fact that at times I’ve been talking myself into staying in the relationship and kind of leaving myself with no other choice.

    In this dream, a group of cartoonized crows flies together, excitedly, to get some food from the ground (I believe, I don’t really remember the exact reason for their excitement). As they get on the ground they stumble against each other, and they suddenly realize that they have been literally tied for life, with colorful bands, to the first crow they stumbled into (I am very young, I’ve been with my partner since I was 17 and he is my very first partner). The crows look sad now, but they decide to resign to their new reality and fly away with their new mate for life. I’m now a male bird (I can’t see myself, I can only hear my voice coming from somewhere and I see my bird friend in front of me. I suppose my voice represents my unconscious.) talking to make male bird friend, a cartoonized mixture of a pigeon and a turkey. I tell him: “Whoa friend, you chose your girlfriend randomly! Why did you do that?!”. The friends answers: “I know, but… I’m intentioned to make this work with her!” I know he’s not really into this choice. As he says these words, a sugar glider is seen crawling on a news board. I tell him “Yeah, but are you saying this because you want to… Or because that’s the most convenient thing?”. Now I can see a raccoon standing on a trashcan. He’s eating the sugar glider. The dream ends.

    Ah, choices! They’re so difficult to make. I know that lately I’ve haven’t been 100% committed and interested in this relationship, and yet I love my partner and I know that he’s a very, very loving choice for me. Extremely loving choice. He’s very good to me and for me. I love spending time with him. I believe I can get through this and we can have a happy future together: it all depends on the choices I make 🙂

    A fun fact: after waking up to that dream, I thanked my unconscious and asked them: “Ok, I see what you want to do. You are right, I should pay more attention to this topic and to this part of me that feels this way. But I want to ask you something: what do you think I should do? I promise I will listen to you. Do you think I should stay with Michael? Or should I leave the relationship?”. After that a fell asleep, and I had a very long dream… Which I believe is really important for me. At some point Michael joins the dream and we spend some crazy adventures together, like we normally do. The dreams ends with me and him running under the rain. We are holding each other’s hands and running towards the house I live in with my family that he often comes to visit. I suggest him the fastest direction to reach it and he listens to me (lol, I can see what this means ?). And we both run under the rainy, holding right to each other. 🙂

    Sorry for writing such a long comment, but I really felt the need to share these experiences here. I know that this isn’t the best place though, as there’s actually a forum for members, so I apologise if this was unnecessary and promise to not overshare under your beautiful posts anymore 🙂

    Also, if you are a user reading this and getting anxious about this, please do not dear! This is my personal experience and I KNOW from a place inside of me that a part of me doesn’t fully want to commit to this relationship for life because I’m young and I never had other experiences. But if you are certain that YOU WANT to commit to your partner for life and YOU KNOW this is what you want then rest assured that this is what you truly want and what is best for you 🙂 Don’t let my personal experience fear your decisions!

    Reply
  15. Hi Sheryl,

    Thank you for this blogpost. I agree with the lifeline and your work has been for me. When I started in this relationship with my absolutely amazing and loving partner the same symptoms and anxiety I have had before in previous relationships started again. This time I decided not to listen and to be loving toward my partner even I was having the anxiety thoughts like ‘i dont really love him’ ‘this is not going to work’. The intense love I started to feel for my partner flourished. After a major anxiety attack after a fight we had which reflected triggered an intense fear of loss and abandonment I feel like a protection layer broke open. The anxiety started to reverse just like it did for Medin. It opened such a sadness for me, a fear, indeed projections of him wanting to leave him and hurt me, but it also opened my eyes to my underlying problem. Exactly what you said, the fear of not being enough, the fear or loss. So it might be extremely difficult right now, and I’m dealing with intense grief and a lot of fear, but as my psychologist says; it’s a step forward. I’m feeling my feelings, for the first time in forever. Feelings of fear and loss and heartbreak that the relationship anxiety projected me from. And yes, it’s difficult and scary and I feel hopeless sometimes, but it’s a step forward, because I understand it now. I understand what my ego was trying to protect me from because these are the most difficult feelings I have ever felt. I have recently bought your mothers new book because I need to learn how to attend to my feelings and it has taught me a lot already, together with your blogs. So, to you Sheryl, thank you for your help and your wisdom. And to you Medin, embrace these feelings and see them as a step forward and a way to explore this side of you.

    Warmly,
    Stella

    Reply
    • Learning to feel your feeling is KEY to healing, and I’m so glad to hear that you’re starting to thaw out. Keep going!

      Reply
  16. I wrote this at work and see that some sentences don’t make sense as I was in a rush! Sorry for that! Hope it’s understandable 😉

    Reply

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