Your Anxiety is Making You an Asshole Part I

(Written January 6, 2019) In March of this 2018 I frantically scheduled an appointment with a new therapist. I had been toying with the idea of starting a more consistent therapy practice at the request of my then girlfriend. A lot of questions and doubts were flowing through my mind about signing on to do this. “Will I have enough money to do this weekly?” “Is it too much of her to ask that I go to therapy every week?” “Am I hesitant only because I’m being asked to do it?”. “Do I actually want to do this?”. 

It wasn’t until I had one of the most difficult conversations of my life that I decided I absolutely needed to go into therapy and STAT. 

On the day of my first appointment I walked into a new therapist’s office sat down and unloaded the tumultuous ins and outs of the previous year of my life. I had gotten myself into a romantic entanglement with two people. However, my first objective was to begin work on what my partner and I saw as some of my biggest “problem” areas. I described to my therapist my avoidant attachment style and how it shows up in my relationship and how it’s been consistent through multiple partnerships. 

After the first or second session my therapist gave me a call. I was standing in a Pittsburgh-themed-members-only bar attached to the studio where my friends were recording their next album. At this point my partner and I had split. That one-of-my-most-difficult-conversations-of-my-life unveiled another much larger problem area, which became our end. My therapist told me, “I have a book suggestion for you to read. It’s called Insecure in Love”. I agreed to read it and ordered it once we hung up the phone.  

During our next session I told her the book, so far, was more helpful than what I’ve read previously on attachment styles, but it’s mostly about anxious attachment style and I’m avoidant. “I knew you were going to say this”, she said. 

Since then she has been showing me that I am way more anxious than I’ve ever known. In recent years I’ve been hearing so often about other people’s anxiety and I always thought, “damn I’m glad I don’t suffer from anxiety”. Not knowing very well that anxious attachment was absolutely ruling over me and had been causing way more issues than the idea of having an avoidant attachment style ever had. 

Looking back on the last 22 months, the length of the entanglement, I see where and how my anxiety has lead me in actions that I’m not very proud of. By not being aware of it I was unwillingly following it’s lead. Following its lead was making me blind to anything past it. I couldn’t see that some things needed time and that I shouldn’t grasp for the person I was losing just because of how I was feeling. I was avoiding difficult feelings of sadness, hurt, and loss. The rushing, fear, grasping and avoiding caused a lot of pain for people I love. Without understanding this I couldn’t help it. I wasn’t able to feel what I was feeling, sit with it, and decide how to move forward. What I felt caused racing frantic thoughts and actions, but I wasn’t aware of it, there was a disconnect. 

About six months ago, because of my work with my therapist, I was in a situation with these two people where I was able to see the anxiety being activated. I was able to watch myself reacting to it, but I still wasn’t able to calm down and give it time and care. Right now, I find myself back in the position I’ve been many times over the last 22 months. Holding a ton of anxiety wanting to grasp. Freaking out.  I'm actively working to fight it as I go through the final break up of the 22 month long saga. I can't say that I have it under control, hence this being titled Part 1. My hope is that Part II will come in time when I stop causing these people pain, stop causing myself pain, and I stop letting my anxiety be such an asshole.