Healing from Relationship Anxiety
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My dear sisters,
God has a mysterious way of breaking us down so that we can be more whole.
If I’ve learned anything in the last two years in my struggle with anxiety, it’s that life isn't wrapped up in a little bow, easy to understand or accept. It's much, much messier.
The story that I'm living now started after college. Anxiety started popping up, and I noticed there were certain triggers, like going on dates, or big transitions like moving or starting a new job. I started seeing a therapist, and it improved, but the full extent of my struggle with it wouldn't be realized until I got engaged.
Weeks after my engagement, I was experiencing the worst anxiety I had ever felt. This kind of anxiety was aimed at my relationship — or so I thought. Deep down, I knew there was nothing wrong — so why was I so anxious?
Somehow, I stumbled on a therapist's website that dealt specifically with "relationship anxiety" — but the whole point of her practice was that anxiety (unless there were true red flags) was a symptom of something not related to the relationship at all. For me, anxiety was a symptom of many things all inside of me, but especially unhealed past wounds, and my life's worth of bad mental and emotional habits as a result.
What ensued over the next several months was what I would describe as the darkest pit that I didn't even know existed. I spent months excavating the deep wounds inside me that I didn't know where there. The reality I knew was no longer real. I began grieving old feelings that I didn't know lay dormant. I felt like I didn't know who God was anymore — all I could muster for daily prayer was a tiny "Hi, I'm here and I love you.”
I found a therapist who helped me process my grief and past. She validated that not only was I going through a major healing and identity shift, but I was also getting married — another massive transition. It was, and is, a lot.
I can't describe what it's like to heal from things so deeply imprinted in the core of your being. Or what it’s like to try to undo the self that made me who I was up until this point in my life. But I’m finally on my way up in healing, and I know who God is better for it, even if I don’t “understand.” Now, I'm content with quiet in his presence and I know where I am in my life is enough for him. He has never left me and he never will, no matter how much my thoughts and feelings tell me otherwise.
I wouldn’t say I’ve come to any conclusions about life as a Catholic woman, or about being a human in general. But this experience has made me realize that every woman, every human, needs to know that if you suffer from any kind of mental illness, you're okay.
Everything is truly okay. It's okay to talk about your struggle with mental illness. It's okay to be angry with God, even as you keep showing up with him, trusting that somehow, he's there even if the darkness seems that it will never end. It's okay that you feel broken.
Because true peace isn't emotional calm — it's wholeness. It's allowing the broken to be there and letting God heal you, as you work on yourself, so that he can make you more whole and free. Peace isn't just for people who don't struggle with anxiety. It's promised to you by Christ himself. And it may not look like what you expected, but real peace is deep and true and abiding. It is being held by the Father in his arms of safety, and nothing can take that away from you.
From my heart to yours,