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Crippling Relationship Anxiety – Please Help

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  • #408048
    Nala1234
    Participant

    I have been with my boyfriend for 5 years. We have grown together so much in this time. We are not perfect, but we are strong, and we have a very healthy relationship. We have always felt like we could get through anything together, because we have been through a lot together. We are kind, loving, supportive, and we cherish our relationship. We have lived together for about a year and a half and have built the most beautiful life together in a really beautiful place that feels like home. It has been one of the happiest times in my life. I haven’t ever felt so loved, so close to another human, and just so grateful to be in this life and to be this lucky. I have always suffered from mild anxiety and self esteem issues. I have had my fair share of family relationship issues as well, but nothing that is crazy or super “traumatic”.  About a month ago, out of the blue, I started having extremely intrusive thoughts about ending our relationship. It causes me to feel the lowest I have ever felt in my life. I have breakdowns, panic attacks, and cannot function properly. It is truly consuming my life and making me feel depressed and hopeless. In my head I picture telling him that I don’t love him anymore (which hurts the most). I picture getting on a plane and leaving my whole life here with him. It makes it hard to stay present, my mind is constantly drifting to future events and telling myself that I will just be an anxious mess, I won’t enjoy anything so might as well just leave now.  It truly makes me question myself, like I cannot trust myself, like I don’t know the difference between an anxious thought and how I truly feel. It has scared me so bad that I have started therapy. Unfortunately, my therapist is focusing more on my childhood and family issues right now, I imagine because she is trying to get to the root cause of why I am feeling this way… but she is not helping me stop these thoughts and feelings. My boyfriend knows that I have been feeling this way and he has battled with his own anxieties and is extremely supportive. He knows I am working on trying to heal and get a handle on these anxieties. This has been by far the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with and it is really really bringing me down. I am looking for advice, thoughts, ways you have coped with relationship anxiety. I just really feel like I need help. I need to know that this somewhat normal or common, that I am not just going crazy or falling out of love for absolutely no reason and causing myself so so so much pain, because I do love him so so so incredibly much.

    #408054
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Nala1234:

    It reads like you feel that your relationship with your boyfriend is TOO good to be true, therefore it must not be the real thing, because what you know as the real thing (your life growing up with your family) was not good at all. Seems like that’s what your therapist is thinking, that’s why she’s “focusing more on (your) childhood and family issues”. But you disagree with your therapist, you think that how you feel has nothing to do with your childhood and family issues?

    anita

     

     

    #408056
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Nala,

    I am sorry about the sudden increase in your anxiety and having intrusive thoughts about ending your relationship – which has been a great, supportive and loving relationship – something you don’t want to lose in a million years! It seems to me that these intrusive thoughts are a form of self-sabotage.

    You said you’ve always suffered from a mild anxiety and self-esteem issues, and now you are telling yourself: “I will just be an anxious mess, I won’t enjoy anything so might as well just leave now“. There might be a part of you that believes that you aren’t capable of a loving and supportive long-term relationship, because there is something wrong with you. This part may be now sabotaging you.

    Or, as anita said, you might believe that all relationships end up badly, based on what you have experienced and/or have been taught in your childhood, and so there is no point in trying.

    Or, perhaps your parents had a bad relationship and you feel you would “betray” them by having a good one, and so you self-sabotage out of solidarity for them.

    There could be a number of reasons, but I think it would be important to get to the bottom of why you self-sabotage. Is it your own inadequacy and self-esteem issues, or the fear of being different and sort of “betraying” your family?

    But most importantly, please calm down, know that it is just one part of you that is sabotaging you, and that you can get to the bottom of the problem and solve it. Trust that you are able to solve the problem and get to the other side successfully!

     

    #408060
    Nala1234
    Participant

    Thank you so much for your reply. Hearing the thoughts of other really help to make myself feel more validated because I know so much of this is self sabotage. It is hard to me to really see that though because I don’t feel like my life growing up was anything out of the ordinary, my family had their hardships, but I never felt unloved by my parents, I don’t think. I think because there isn’t one single event that may have caused they anxieties I am having, it is really really hard for me to pin point where I should try to start healing. I do understand this is why my therapist is trying to go through my childhood and in the long run I think it will be helpful to me, but right now I was really looking for some immediate relief from these thoughts. They are so hard to combat as not true, it really feels like I can’t trust myself because it is my own brain shouting unwanted things at me. I have a hard time trusting myself due to my anxiety and it makes me feel like I am in an impossible, never ending loop.

    #408061
    Nala1234
    Participant

    Both replies have been so so helpful for me. Thank you. I also wanted to mention that I feel a lot of built up guilt for so many reasons that are not healthy. I base a lot of my happiness on the happiness of others, especially my immediate family. If they are unhappy I blame myself or maybe I don’t blame myself but I always really really put it on myself to do something about it. I ask what I can do to help them feel better and I think all of that pressure is making me crack. it is just so hard to stop this cycle and I am not really sure how to stop it because it does come from a good place of wanting to help and wanting to see them thrive and be happy.

    #408062
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Nala,

    you are very welcome! You say it is hard for you to pin point what could be the cause of your anxiety, because you don’t remember anything super traumatic. The thing is that there doesn’t need to be one single traumatic event (which would be like shock trauma), but there can be many smaller events, ordinary day-to-day interactions, due to which the child can develop anxiety and low self-esteem.

    I have had my fair share of family relationship issues as well, but nothing that is crazy or super “traumatic”.

    These family relationship issues – which have been nothing super traumatic but still unfavorable – could have very well contributed to your present-day insecurities and low self-esteem. They may have also lead to not trusting yourself (It truly makes me question myself, like I cannot trust myself, like I don’t know the difference between an anxious thought and how I truly feel.)

    You’ve mentioned one of those issues, which is that you feel responsible for your family’s happiness, and you can only be happy if your family is happy (I base a lot of my happiness on the happiness of others, especially my immediate family.) If they are not happy, you try to help them. But perhaps your help doesn’t make a difference, because they keep being unhappy, no matter what you do? You would like to see them “thrive and be happy” – but what if they have some internal blocks to being happy, and no matter what you do, you’ll never succeed in making them happy? Because it doesn’t depend on you, but on them.

    If you feel guilty for being happy if your family is unhappy, that’s a recipe for life-long misery. And maybe a part of you which feels guilty is now sabotaging you, telling you something like: “How can you be happy while your family is unhappy? It’s so selfish! You are a bad person!”

    The above is just one example… maybe your internal saboteur is telling you something different, but whatever it is, it’s something that makes you feel bad about yourself and stops you from pursuing your happiness. You can counter this voice by the voice of your True Self, who knows that you love your boyfriend and that you are capable of having a happy and fulfilling relationship, as you have proven so far.

     

    #408063
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Nala1234:

    I will organize what you shared in your original post in chronological order, best I can (what happened first, what happened second, etc.), using mostly your exact words: I had my fair share of family relationship issues. I haven’t ever felt so loved, or close to another human. I always suffered from mild anxiety and self-esteem issues. I met my boyfriend 5 years ago and we moved in together about a year and a half ago. We have been through a lot together. We have grown so much in this time. We are not perfect, but we are strong, kind, loving, supporting, and we cherish our relationship.  About a month ago, out of the blue, I started having extremely intrusive thoughts about ending our relationship. I have breakdowns, panic attacks, and cannot function properly. It scared me so bad that I have started therapy. My therapist is focusing more on my childhood and family issues right now, but she is not helping me stop these thoughts and feelings.

    My understanding of what happened, based on your three posts: your childhood experience growing up, particularly your relationships with your parents/ immediate family, occasionally involved severe anxiety for you. Like children do, over time, you repressed as much as possible of that anxiety, pushing it down and away from your awareness. But because emotional repression cannot be done perfectly and there are cracks, some of the anxiety kept seeping through the cracks and to the surface, and therefore, you” have always suffered from mild anxiety”.

    A month ago, the severe anxiety did not just seep through to the surface (in the form of mild anxiety), it erupted to the surface in its original form: severe anxiety.

    About a month ago, out of the blue, I started having extremely intrusive thoughts about ending our relationship… In my head I picture telling him that I don’t love him anymore… I picture getting on a plane and leaving…(if I stay) I will just be an anxious mess, I won’t enjoy anything so might as well just leave now“-

    – this, I figure, is how you repeatedly felt as a child: you were “an anxious mess” who didn’t enjoy anything, who wanted to end her relationships with her immediate family and who pictured herself getting on a plane and leaving her unhappy home.

    I don’t feel like my life growing up was anything out of the ordinary“- unfortunately, you are quite correct: growing  up in an unhappy home is quite ordinary.

    “I never felt unloved by my parents, I don’t think.“- you don’t think, but it is not how you feel.

    there isn’t one single event that may have caused they anxieties I am having“- there hasn’t been a single event in the home you grew up in that made you feel “so loved or close to another human” either (“another human” includes your parents/ family members).

    it really feels like I can’t trust myself because it is my own brain shouting unwanted things at me“- I think that your brain is letting you know that some changes need to be done in the context of your relationships with your immediate family.

    Your 6th sentence in our original post, in regard to your boyfriend: “We… have built the most beautiful life together in a really beautiful place that feels like home“- it is not only positive feelings or positive longings that came up for you when living with your boyfriend; it is also negative feelings that came up,  memories of feelings.. that emotional “impossible, never ending loop” experience that you mentioned at the end of your second post.

    In your third post, you elaborated on that impossible-never-ending loop: “I base a lot of my happiness on the happiness of… my immediate family. If they are unhappy I blame myself… and I think all of that pressure is making me crack. it is just so hard to stop this cycle and I am not really sure how to stop it because it does come from a good place of wanting to help and wanting to see them thrive and be happy“- reads to me like you are still, presently, trying to make your immediate family happy and it is too much pressure for you. This pressure caused your severe anxiety to erupt to the surface through the cracks of imperfect repression. It is time for you to really leave your immediate family home behind  (something you’ve wanted to do for a long, long time, isn’t it?), to give up on your old goal in life (to make your immediate family happy), and to form a new, fresh goal.

    right now I was really looking for some immediate relief from these thoughts“- seeing a medical doctor for possible psychiatric evaluation and medication is an option that may bring you that immediate relief.

    it is really really hard for me to pin point where I should try to start healing“- quality psychotherapy will be best. You may need an immediate relief option (medication and/ or regular, daily mindfulness practices) while attending therapy so that you can benefit from therapy.

    I would like to read more from you.

    anita

    #408078
    Nala1234
    Participant

    I think I should give a little more background on my family. Up until I was about 10 years old I had the most ideal childhood. Full of so much love, laughter, happiness, I mean really, it was pure bliss. When I say family relationship issues, it’s not really between me and a family member.

    My mom went through a bad depression for years (starting when I was about 10) and never did anything about it. She has so much unresolved trauma. My dad dealing with this over the years, has created his own traumas. My brother and I were always effected by this but I think watching how my mom dealt with all of her own issues and feelings, we never talked about anything that bothered us. We hid it away, our mom would tell us that we don’t need anyone knowing our family business and that we should never talk to any of our friends about our family problems. My mom had a really rough few years, a lot happened to her at once and it is what sent her into this depression that I am talking about.

    My upbringing never really taught me how to process sad or negative feelings. If there was a problem, I was taught to fix it with my head held high. Kill with kindness and be a leader. I was never taught that it was okay to share my life with anyone and it taught me to always have my guard up. I truly don’t think it was intentional but growing up learning this, it has always made me think I can’t let anyone ever see me weak and it left me craving attention. I don’t think I realized that is why I have always craved attention until now, but it just clicked as I was writing this.

    I don’t question my parents love for me. I know they love me, but I think sometimes it is a little bit of an unhealthy love. It is a depending love, which hurts me because it makes me feel like if I cannot help them then they will grow to not like me? I question this because that is how I feel but I feel silly saying it because if I ever talked to them about it, they would never in a million years say they would stop loving or liking me. But it is how I am asked for things. It is always such a guilt trip and makes it nearly impossible to say no. Guilt trips are a bigggg thing in my family. They have been used my whole life, and I won’t lie, I have used them too bc it just seems like the norm when communicating or needing something with my family. I know they are wrong though and I actively make sure I don’t use them on others because I know how damaging they can be. My parents & brother just need a lot of help, with so many things, and they have no one else to turn to, so they depend on me. At the same time though, even as I recognize all of the problems I have with my family, I still get homesick and want to be around them. I still feel like they are a safe place for me, especially when I am feeling so anxious.

    A few side notes not on the family topic:

    Things that I constantly question when I am anxious are “if my problems are with my immediate family, why are my anxious thoughts about my boyfriend?” “What if this isn’t anxiety and I really just don’t love my boyfriend anymore but I am too blind/broken/ scared to see that?” “What if I put in all of this work with therapy, and nothing changes?”

    Even when I am not feeling anxious, or I take an anxiety medication (I have one btw, I just don’t like to take it regularly, I try to only take it when I am having a panic attack, my hopes are to work through my anxieties through therapy, but the medication really does help calm me down.) In the back of my mind, I feel worried about the next time my anxiety will come back up, or I will think about my anxious thoughts as a way to test myself to see if it is just anxiety or if they are really how I am feeling… this gets so hard because I start to think well, if it is in my brain right now and I am not feeling anxious then it must be valid… but I am putting my anxious thoughts in my head when I am not anxious. It’s a vicious cycle.

    Again, I want to thank you both. Your insight has helped me more than you can even imagine.

    #408084
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Nala,

    You are so very welcome. Reading your story, it seems to me there are multiple reasons for your anxiety and self-sabotage.

    First, I see a parallel between your blissful, happy, ideal childhood in the first 10 years of your life, and your blissful, perfect relationship with your boyfriend now. Your perfect childhood was suddenly discontinued when your mother got sick with depression, which turned your life upside down. You might subconsciously believe that the blissful relationship with your boyfriend likewise won’t last, and so you start sabotaging it beforehand, expecting its inevitable demise. That’s one possible reason for your anxiety, i.e. self-sabotage.

    The reason for your low self-esteem could very well be that you tried to help your mother get better, perhaps ever since you were 10 years old, but nothing really helped – because she “never did anything about it.” When the child tries so hard to make their parent happy, but the parent is still depressed, the child starts blaming themselves and believing that something is wrong with them. That can be at the root of your low self-esteem.

    Your mother had a lot of unresolved trauma, but she didn’t do anything to help herself. I assume she didn’t go to therapy and didn’t talk to anyone about it, since it was a taboo in her eyes. Moreover, she told you and your brother not to talk to anyone about it.  You were very affected by your mother’s condition, but you weren’t supposed to show it to anyone that something was bothering you. You were to hide it and pretend that everything is fine (“If there was a problem, I was taught to fix it with my head held high. I was never taught that it was okay to share my life with anyone and it taught me to always have my guard up. It has always made me think I can’t let anyone ever see me weak”).

    So you were taught to hide your emotions, hide your weaknesses and insecurities, and pretend that all is fine. But all those negative emotions, fears and insecurities have been stored in your system, and now they are coming out all at once, causing those intrusive thoughts and panic attacks.

    It seems to me that years and years of suppressed emotions are now coming to the surface, making you anxious and scared, even wanting to escape back home… But what you would need to do instead is process those emotions, process the fears and the trauma that your mother’s untreated depression has caused you. You won’t be an “anxious mess” if you process those emotions, in the safe environment of therapy. In fact, once you process it, you will be stronger and more balanced, which will greatly reduce the chance of panic attacks.

    So this seems to me as the second reason for your anxiety: suppressed negative emotions, which have been a taboo in your mother’s eyes and which you were not allowed to express for many years.

    And the third reason for your anxiety, as I see it, is you feeling guilty for not helping your family enough, and feeling responsible for their happiness. Your family has been guilt tripping you – perhaps they are even complaining that you live too far away, so you cannot help them the way they would want you to? And so you sometimes have the urge to get on the plane and leave your whole life with your boyfriend and go back to your parents (“even as I recognize all of the problems I have with my family, I still get homesick and want to be around them. I still feel like they are a safe place for me, especially when I am feeling so anxious”).

    You think that by being closer to them you will feel better – because they would love you more (“it makes me feel like if I cannot help them then they will grow to not like me”), and it will ease your anxiety. But their love is conditional: they are guilt-tripping you for not helping them enough, and maybe even for living your life away from them.

    Every child wants to be loved by their parents, and so you too, in order to feel loved, you want to please them and help them and make them happy…  but as I said before, you cannot make happy someone who doesn’t want to be happy. You said your mother never did anything to deal with her depression. It seems to me she wants you to help with the consequences of her untreated depression (perhaps finances, help in the household and suchlike?), but she doesn’t want to really help herself – to take responsibility for her depression.

    If that’s the case, your help will never be enough. Even if you moved back to your parents and dedicated your life to helping them, I believe it wouldn’t be enough. Your mother would still not be happy, since she chooses to blame others rather than help herself.

    So as the third reason for your self-sabotage I see your feeling of guilt and wanting to be loved by your parents, believing that if only you could be a perfect daughter, they would finally love you. So a part of you (the inner child who craves to be loved) would even sacrifice your relationship with your boyfriend in order to please your parents.

    OK, I’ll stop here for now… please let me know how you see this and if you feel there is truth in what I said above.

    #408096
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Nala1234:

    I was never taught that it was okay to share my life with anyone and it taught me to always have my guard up“- having a close relationship with your boyfriend, you did what you were not supposed to do; you did what you were taught to be not okay: you shared your life with someone.

    For a month now, you have been doing what you are supposed to do; what you were taught to be okay to do: to have your guard up (in the form of a “Crippling Relationship Anxiety”).

    * It so happens that my mother used to tell me how much she loved me… but what she did, in practice, was to own me via heavy duty guilt trips: I was owned, not loved.

    anita

    #408116
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Nala1234:

    I have a few more comments in regard to your most recent post of 25 hours ago:

    Up until I was about 10 years old I had the most ideal childhood. Full of so much love, laughter, happiness, I mean really, it was pure bliss“- adults’ memories of childhood are often positively distorted, the word nostalgia is used to refer to this phenomenon: we forget the bad and remember the good in a magnified, magical fashion: pure bliss.

    My mom… has so much unresolved trauma… My brother and I were always affected by this” – because children have so much empathy for their mother, they absorb her pain like sponges. Therefore, her unresolved trauma became yours and your brother’s.

    Our mom would tell us that we don’t need anyone knowing our family business and that we should never talk to any of our friends about our family problems“- your mother did not allow you to seek emotional relief from the unresolved trauma that you absorbed from her by talking about it. (Congratulations for talking about it here!)

    If I ever talked to them about it, they would never in a million years say they would stop loving or liking me“- guilt tripping is indirect: the one doing the guilting does not come out and clearly says: if you don’t do this and that for me, I will stop loving you! This italicized message is not stated, it is suggested.

    But it is how I am asked for things. It is always such a guilt trip and makes it nearly impossible to say no. Guilt trips are a bigggg thing in my family. They have been used my whole life“- the ones who manipulate you through guilt do not want your Yes-s to come out of love; they want your Yes-s to come out of emotional pain/ guilt. They correctly understand that guilt/ pain is more effective in producing Yes-s.

    My parents & brother just need a lot of help, with so many things, and they have no one else to turn to, so they depend on me“- it wouldn’t have been wrong on your parents’ part to depend on you if they didn’t also weaken you through guilt, and if they didn’t continue to weaken you through guilt. It is wrong (and ineffectual, in the long-run) to weaken an individual and then demand their strength.

    I still get homesick and want to be around them. I still feel like they are a safe place for me, especially when I am feeling so anxious“- don’t be fooled by nostalgia.

    Things that I constantly question when I am anxious are ‘if my problems are with my immediate family, why are my anxious thoughts about my boyfriend?’“- because it is more anxiety provoking to question your parents’ love, and to make changes in regard to how (and if) you interact with your parents-  than it is to question your love for your boyfriend. A child’s worst case scenario is to not be loved by her parents because instinctually- biologically, a child knows that unloved, she will die unfed and unprotected.

    “‘What if this isn’t anxiety and I really just don’t love my boyfriend anymore but I am too blind/broken/ scared to see that?‘”- when we are full of fear, we don’t experience loving feelings (or any other pleasant feelings and desires). Your lack of felt-love for your boyfriend is about the fear.

    ‘What if I put in all of this work with therapy, and nothing changes?’“- then perhaps you will move back with your parents and be a guilty child forever. I hope not.

    Even when I am not feeling anxious… I feel worried about the next time my anxiety will come back up, or I will think about my anxious thoughts as a way to test myself to see if it is just anxiety or if they are really how I am feeling… I am putting my anxious thoughts in my head when I am not anxious. It’s a vicious cycle“- I bet that you read about R-OCD: Relationship Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Questioning your love for your boyfriend is an obsession. I suggest that you see a medical doctor or another health care professional so to be evaluated. There are medications, such as the SSRI medications, that are often prescribed for OCD.  An SSRI or the like, taken regularly every morning (or every evening) is likely to be more helpful to you than the anti-anxiety (a benzodiazepine?) taken occasionally.

    You wrote in regard to your parents manipulating you through guilt: “I know they are wrong though and I actively make sure I don’t use them on others because I know how damaging they can be“-

    – Good thing that you evaluated the behavior itself and figured that it is a damaging behavior. As you deal with your parents (and brother, and others) focus on Principles and not on Personalities, meaning evaluate behaviors and choose the behaviors that you will accept and the behaviors that you will not accept, and do not blindly follow anyone because he or she is your mother, or father, or brother.

    anita

    #408117
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Nala,

    how are you today? I hope I haven’t overwhelmed you with my analysis…

    I’d just like to say that even though I compared your relationship with your boyfriend with your happy and blissful childhood, I in fact think that your relationship with your boyfriend is much healthier because you have been through a lot together (including problems and challenges, I assume), and you both grew in the process, and your relationship got stronger as a result:

    We have grown together so much in this time. We are not perfect, but we are strong, and we have a very healthy relationship. We have always felt like we could get through anything together, because we have been through a lot together. We are kind, loving, supportive, and we cherish our relationship.

    In contrast, when you mother got sick with depression, she didn’t do anything to help herself and start healing her unresolved trauma. This approach – refusing to take responsibility, hiding her problems and possibly blame-shifting – affected both you, your brother and your father:

    My mom went through a bad depression for years (starting when I was about 10) and never did anything about it. She has so much unresolved trauma. My dad dealing with this over the years, has created his own traumas. My brother and I were always effected by this but I think watching how my mom dealt with all of her own issues and feelings, we never talked about anything that bothered us.

    Instead of honestly sharing about your problems, you stuffed them and pretended that everything is fine (because your mother requested it from you). This is a diametrically opposite approach of what you are taking now with your boyfriend: honest and open sharing, working through problems together, all the way respecting and supporting each other. That’s why your relationship with your boyfriend is a healthy and resilient one, while your relationship with your parents is not very healthy. You yourself described it as “a little bit of an unhealthy love, a depending love“.

    So you have a model of a healthy relationship, and you have a model of an unhealthy one. The unhealthy one is sometimes calling you, because your inner child wants to please your parents…. but the real love, the healthy love, is with your boyfriend.

    I need to know that this somewhat normal or common, that I am not just going crazy or falling out of love for absolutely no reason and causing myself so so so much pain, because I do love him so so so incredibly much.

    I have no doubt that you love your boyfriend a lot, and I trust that you can get over this challenge too – because as you said, you can get through anything together!

    #408241
    Nala1234
    Participant

    Both responses & analyses have helped me more than my 3 weeks of therapy. Everything you are both saying is so spot on.  I can see how I have a lot of unresolved emotions to process. I think I need to find a therapist that specializes in relationship anxiety because I don’t think I am connecting with my therapist the same way the two of you have been able to understand how I am feeling and help me process it.

    My physical anxiety comes in waves, but the thoughts are always in the back of my kind and for the few moments that they are not l, I feel really happy. I still have a really hard time combating the anxious thoughts when they come up, but just rereading your thoughts above help calm me down a lot.

    When I say that my boyfriend and I have been through a lot I will elaborate a little more because I think I have some unresolved emotions there too.

    We first met and we’re friends for a year before we started dating. We were in a friend group of about 9 people, one of them being my best girlfriend at the time. When we started dating, it rubbed a lot of people in the group the wrong way. Even though we tried to handle it in the best way as possible by giving them space, it just let things stew with them. My best girl friend at my the time began to make up stories and lies about my boyfriend and about our relationship. She would share them with the rest of the group with out us knowing. She would even sit me down and try to ask me manipulating questions about our relationship to try and make me thing we were in an unhealthy relationship. (We we’re just fine and always tried to balance our time between spending time with eachother and spending time with the group. But they felt that anytime just the two of us would do something, it was wrong).  She painted my boyfriend out to be a really bad guy and the other members in the group began to treat him very poorly, always put him down and really bullied him into feeling bad about himself.

    My boyfriend and I attempted to address these issues as we saw them, with specific examples and every time they all just denied any of it happening. Telling us that we were over reacting and crazy. That we need to not think their life revolves around ours. It eventually got to the point where we decided we just couldn’t not be friends with them anymore. It was extremely hard on us and left us nothing feeling very alone. Due to the majority of our friends actions being put towards my boyfriend, it really effected his mental health. His anxiety spiked to an all time high, he had no self confidence, and just felt lost. He ended up needing to take a lot of time to focus on himself and figure out who he was and what he wanted to do. This was hard on our relationship and made me feel even more alone because he was pulling away a bit, but I knew this is exactly what he needed to do and focusing on himself was the best thing for him. It proved to be true because he has come a really long way and is much better now. He is great at controlling his anxiety and i think it is how he can be so supportive of me right now going through a lot of anxiety.

    I used to get really nervous that we were one of those couples who stop being friends with everyone else just bc we started dating. I never wanted to be one of those relationships & neither did my boyfriend, but unfortunately our friends at the time made that decision for us by treating us the way they did. I still struggle with this thought sometimes and sometimes I think about all of the awful things they said about my boyfriend when I am feeling anxious. This makes me really sad because I know they are pure lies but anxiety makes things feel so real.

    Over all though, my anxiety journey is moving in the right direction. I am optimistic that I can get through this. I know what I want and how I feel, my anxiety is just a big road block. I have read a lot about ROCD and I think that there is a very very good chance that i have that. It sounds like exactly what I go through and exactly the actions that I take. I plan to make a couple calls this week to find a better suited therapist.

    #408246
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Nala1234:

    I will probably reply further later, but for now: when I read about the behaviors of the people in the friend group toward your boyfriend and yourself, the saying “With friends like these, who needs enemies?” came to my mind. I hope that their unfriendly voices stop replaying in your mind.. those are not the voices of friends and they do not deserve your mental space!

    anita

    #408264
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Nala,

    I am happy that my (and anita’s) input has been helpful and that it helps you calm down when those anxious thoughts start coming up.

    As for your friends’ behavior, that’s quite something. Your best friend turning against you, spreading lies about your boyfriend and trying to convince you that your relationship is unhealthy –  wow! I wonder what her “complaints” were against your boyfriend? According to her, why was your relationship unhealthy?

    We we’re just fine and always tried to balance our time between spending time with each other and spending time with the group. But they felt that anytime just the two of us would do something, it was wrong.

    When people start dating, it’s normal they want to spend as much time as possible with each other… they usually spend much less time with their friends. When you say that you tried to balance your time between being alone with your boyfriend and being with your friends – is it because your friends accused you of not spending enough time with them any more? Why was is “wrong” that just the two of you spent time together?

    I used to get really nervous that we were one of those couples who stop being friends with everyone else just bc we started dating. I never wanted to be one of those relationships & neither did my boyfriend

    Some people indeed stop contact with their friends completely once they start dating. That’s pretty extreme… but as I said, it’s totally natural that couples spend much more time with each other than with the group. Did you feel guilty when you spent time with your boyfriend and “neglected” your former best friend?

    but unfortunately our friends at the time made that decision for us by treating us the way they did. I still struggle with this thought sometimes and sometimes I think about all of the awful things they said about my boyfriend when I am feeling anxious. This makes me really sad because I know they are pure lies but anxiety makes things feel so real.

    Are you saying that a part of your believes those awful things they said about your boyfriend? When your anxiety spikes, you believe that your friends might be right?

    Over all though, my anxiety journey is moving in the right direction. I am optimistic that I can get through this. I know what I want and how I feel, my anxiety is just a big road block.

    That’s great that you know what you want and how you feel, and that you see anxiety as a roadblock, but a roadblock that can be overcome.

     

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