Wrestling with Myself: An Exercise in Managing My Neuroticism

I told you last week that I’ve been more on the silent side because I’ve been wrestling with my mother and with myself. Then I just swept that last point under the rug, I focused solely on what I’ve been learning about how to honor my mother right now. The next day I sort of changed topics. I’m going to let you into that other struggle.

You’ve got to remember that I’m totally neurotic. Meaning I’m plagued with utterly irrational fears. Then remember that I started dating, and have a history of being with guys who only almost date me (it may help to know that one of those guys also had this tendency to just withdraw from me for no apparent reason at different times) now maybe you can begin to get a sense of my inner turmoil. For about the first month of dating, on the inside I was like “Is this really happening?” I kept preparing for him to just completely drop out of my life at any second inexplicably.

I knew it was just my condition flaring up. That these fears were utterly ungrounded. As I told you, we put our cards out on the table in our first text dialogue. There was nothing unclear. We were actually dating. By like the third week of dating he called me his girlfriend. That was that. Nothing to stress about.

It was all feeling too good to be true. Usually, in my life, when things seems too good to be true it’s because they aren’t true. Either I’m being led on, or leading myself on, or a combination of the two. I’m not used to relationships with men in which the nature of our relationship is clear and uncomplicated. New territory is always a little frightening and hard to trust. On top of that, I’m not really overly trusting of men in the first place.

In a great display of self-control and person growth, I didn’t let any of my neuroticism leak out into our interaction. No obsessive texting. No awkward clinginess. It helped that I could go back and read some of our text dialogues, in which we were both really honest about our commitment to give this a chance, when I was starting to get really panicky. (If there is one good thing about all the crap we’ve gotten about our age difference, and we’ve gotten a good amount since it’s so unconventional for the guy to be the younger one in a relationship, it is that it prompted these conversations). When even that didn’t help, I’d tell myself that if people are gonna run away you should let them. I’d resign myself to simply accepting that possibility.

Then, one day, my fears dissipated. I can’t tell you exactly why it happened, only when. I’d shown up to work that Saturday having been especially neurotic all week after our Tuesday date. He’d been a little withdrawn that afternoon. Though my mind told me that there were probably other reasons (and had a good idea what those reasons were), my emotions were like ‘It’s a sign of the end. Brace yourself.’ So, I had. (I admitted I’m a little crazy, right?).

As I handed out packets of tea for customers to try at home, I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around. There he was smiling at me. When I saw his face I was overcome with relief. And awash by just how much I like him. I haven’t worried since that afternoon a couple of weeks ago.

Being that neuroticism isn’t governed by logic, it wasn’t reason that settled my fears. My mind had kept pointing out that our relationship is nothing like the pseudo-relationships of my past. That he is so very far from those guys (he’s actually dating me, that’s a big difference right there). It was telling me that for the first time there were no warning signs, so why was I so worried? (especially when I’d survived ignoring warning signs before). More powerfully than any argument, that look on his face and my corresponding internal reaction conveyed exactly what I needed to know: this is real. Come what may, that’s all I needed.

Still, being a Cancer, I can’t help but be cautious even in my happiness.Time will only tell if this really works out. I’ve just stopped second guessing whether this is actually happening or not.

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