When Anxiety Tells Me that I’m Unlovable
If I were to have any superpower, what would that be?
I’ve pondered this question many times and each time, with my heart sinking and coiling in my chest – ah that restless, relentless viper – firmly, resolutely, and painfully, I knew that what I want more than anything is the ability to read minds.
Someone had asked me, “If you had to cut your remaining life in half to receive this power, would you still do it?”
Yes, yes, and yes.
Because all that time I wasted ruminating; anxiously churning, writhing, and re-assessing the same memories in my head, spiraling in paranoia, flaring up in anger, and sinking in sorrow, and always without fail, arriving at the conclusion that I should just kill myself because nothing is certain but death – I might as well be dead.
Someone had rebutted, “But what if the thoughts you read are not pleasant? What if you find out for real how people feel about you and it destroys you?”
Then let it destroy me.
I’ve been ready for it for years. Oh, I’ve been ready for that utter destruction and grief for a long time.
I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and depression. My anxiety and depression, combined with my chaotic upbringing and traumatic events that molded and calcified my maladaptive core beliefs about myself, make it almost impossible for me to develop healthy relationships.
While I never hesitated to give my heart fully, unabashedly, and unreservedly to those I love – my dear friends and my romantic partner – I always had this persistent fear that one day, they will all leave me. Or that they want to leave me, but stay out of good will and kindness.
Because I’m undesirable.
Because I’m a burden.
Because I am not a good person.
Often I think that people talk to me, not because they want to, but because they have to or to be nice. Or perhaps, their friendship is really a magnanimous extension of their pity for me.
These core beliefs sabotage my relationships. I cannot let anything go without overanalyzing it and exhaustively exploring and considering its every angle, every implication, and every significance. An unanswered text, an unintentional frown, vague phrasing, canceled plans, a small disagreement, etc. – things that are normal and frequent in healthy relationships (romantic and others) – trigger and amplify my paranoia to uncontainable proportions and I often act on them. I start fights, I put up walls, create distance, and leave people before they leave me. Or I ceaselessly prod them for reassurance and validation to the point where they get sick of me and leave.
Over the years, with much maturation and self-work, I’ve gotten significantly better at not visibly acting on those trigger points. The frequency of unpleasant confrontations went down. I have more friends than ever before. But still, I cannot control the whirlwind of the concentrated and acute emotions – rage, panic, and heartbreak – that envelopes me every time a cherished friend ignores my texts, says something mildly critical, or cancels plans.
I actively look for the signs (the confirmation) that my fear of abandonment is justified.
I know that my fear is a huge disservice and dismissal of the genuinely amazing people who do their best to stick around me, but I cannot muzzle these thoughts that beat and thundered for years and was the soundtrack of my life.
It takes a cup of courage, a spoonful of fortitude, and a pinch of tenacity to believe in those who believe in you.
But my friends, I have none of those things. I am a coward. I am fearful. I would rather ignore all the tangible and sure-fire signs of your genuine care, to believe in the small, but growing possibility that you will see the “real me” and inevitably, decidedly, and rightfully, abandon me.
It takes a lot of self-love to absolutely trust that people can love you.
I am volatile, moody, needy, clingy, effusive, sensitive, confrontational, difficult, and broken; everything about me is intense and I am not an easy person to love. I find it difficult to believe that anyone can tolerate – and actually like – me; all of me.
Maybe a part of me subconsciously desires to be abandoned; maybe I want to experience complete, utter, and irreversible destruction and spiral into the abyss, partially because that is what I think I deserve, because I was raised in chaos and a part of me longs for familiarity, and because I want to be saved again.
Oh, I want to be saved.
Saved from myself.
Every day is a nightmare in my head and I fervently wish that I can turn off these intrusive, roaring, and automatic thoughts. I wildly fantasize about being able to read minds all the time. When my thoughts are too overwhelming, I fantasize about dying.
“All I want is blackness. Blackness and silence.” ― Sylvia Plath
Many times, I’ve planned my death.
Death by falling; my hair unfurling in the wind, with my arms outstretched like wings in my final act of liberation.
Death by potassium cyanide.
Believe me, I’ve spent too much time being sequestered in my head and too much time planning my escape.
But each time, I just couldn’t commit. Because somewhere in the back of my mind, I know that my death will devastate the people who care about me. That whatever burden I relinquish with my life ending will be unloaded tenfold on those who hold me dear in their hearts and that my departure will destroy them.
So there you go. There’s your answer. You stupid, dramatic, and erratic girl.
Some part of you knows that your thoughts are irrational.
Some part of you knows that really, the true monster is your anxiety.
Ah, anxiety, that monster; that serpentine thing coiled pre-emptively and residing deep in my heart, one that helped me survive during more chaotic times, one that I nourished for all these years, and one that doesn’t serve me anymore.
It’s time to let go.
But how do I say goodbye to something that I relied on for years?
Slowly, but surely.
I can do this.
I think I can believe the people who believe in me.