Because of the nature of my first marriage (conflict-less because of a deadly combination of his tendency to lie about everything and my inclination to avoid anything too anxiety-provoking) and the way that it ended (suddenly and without warning), I have struggled at times with my now-husband.
In the beginning, I alternated between being totally flooded and in a panic about being abandoned again at the slightest sense of conflict or withdrawal to an “I’m out of here” conclusion as my traumatized brain assumed the worst about a situation. Additionally, my f’ed up brain decided that if I wasn’t the “perfect wife,” I would again be dropped. Of course, that doesn’t lead to good things because I could never do enough to calm the anxiety and none of this was stuff my husband asked for (or expected) anyways. And then for the cherry on top, I had a hard time bringing up the difficult conversations, my years of avoiding anything anxiety-producing had trained me well.
It’s been years of work learning how to change these patterns. I can now initiate the difficult conversations and I’m more able to stay present during them instead of disappearing into an emotional whirlpool. I trust that my now-husband is in it for the long haul and that he is not a quitter or a coward. As I process a disagreement or issue, I’m finding less and less that it directly has more to do with my past than my present.
Which is good.
But of course, the past is still imprinted on my being. I still have a tendency to take everything too personally and respond at a level ten to something that should be counted on one hand’s worth of fingers. I get in my head too much, thinking when I should be being. And it’s a vicious cycle. Because when I get this way, I become more convinced that I’ll be left again. Which then leads me right back to where I started.
There’s obviously room to grow.
I think part of my recent anxiety is tied to my upcoming trip (I leave in the morning!!!). It’s been almost ten years to the day since I left to go visit my father in Seattle. On that trip, like with any trip, I expected to return to Atlanta and my life at its conclusion.
But that life disintegrated while I was gone.
There is nothing in my life now that suggests that scene will ever be repeated. But I think it’s there in my subconscious mind, softly whispering, “what if?” and making me more needy, more sensitive and yes, more anxious.
I’ve come a long way in the last ten years. But I still have a ways to go.