#560 – Journey Of Attachment: I Need To Keep My Anxiety a Secret From My Mate
Anxiety is painful enough, but hiding it from your mate makes it even worse. Maybe you worry about where they are, or when they’re going to call, or why they ignored you. But instead of expressing that, you hide behind a façade of “everything’s just fine.” You’re afraid if your partner knew about these thoughts, he/she might freak out. Maybe you have even shown concern in the past, but he/she felt you didn’t trust them so you shut it down. How often have you asked yourself, “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just be ok with the way things are?!” It’s scary and lonely to feel you have nowhere to turn. And that your feelings are unacceptable.
As a kid, if you were shamed for how you felt or told you were too sensitive, you carried that over into adulthood. Now it creates problems in your relationships because you’re always holding back. In this week’s episode, learn to make friends with your anxiety and allow yourself to be what you fear. I’ll walk you through it. Anxiety won’t disappear overnight, but if you want to be connected to your partner instead of suffering in silence, you have to acknowledge what’s going on and work through your fears. Stop driving yourself crazy.
WISDOM NUGGET (#wisdomnugget)
Holding it in hides it from no one. It makes you act weird. Let it blow, then let it go without blame. You deserve it!
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Howdy, everybody. I am back again and I am doing this video and I’m also doing this audio, so wherever you happen to find me, this is my podcast and it is The Journey of Attachment, which I’m changing to Overcoming Insecure Attachment, since that is the name of my upcoming book, which will be coming out this fall. I don’t have an exact release date, but when I do, you guys will know. Anyway, I’m here again, and this is number 560. I cannot believe the numbers and that I, in April, I think, or maybe it’s March, I don’t remember. Anyways, March or April, I will have been doing this podcast six years. Crazy, crazy.
Today, it is one of the statements that I hear from people a lot when they come to do work with me, and even in questions that I get from people, it’s, “I need to keep my anxiety a secret from my mate.” Yeah. Sucks, right? You don’t have to keep any secrets because that’s a lot of work, a lot of energy, and you don’t realize that you create your life from that kind of energy, so it’s no fun. You are in constant reaction to things that you do and so we don’t realize it, okay, but that’s beside the point of the pain it is to keep any kind of anxiety a secret. Hello. How hard is that, right?
The main idea today is: Is this you? Are you this person? I’m saying, you’re going, “All right, I need to keep this a secret from my mate because I am afraid. I need everything on the outside to look a certain way. I need to be acceptable. I need what I do to be acceptable and I don’t want them to question anything. I don’t want them to think there’s something wrong with me. I don’t want them to think I’m going to therapy or coaching or I’m going to coaching or I’m doing something, right, because then that would be an admission that I’m not okay,” and so it can feel really scary to feel this way because you don’t know where to turn or you don’t know how to change it. Okay, so that’s basically the topic today, and we’re going to have some pointers on what you can do to not be in this place, all right?
We’re going to start with you believe that your partner would freak out completely if they knew you had anxiety or were trying to work on yourself and you believe that they believe you are perfect. It’s kind of funny, isn’t it? I mean, who’s perfect? Okay, so we don’t really think in our head, “Oh, they think I’m perfect, so I better act this way,” it’s that we believe they’re perceiving us in a certain way and we don’t want to be perceived as less than perfect. That can give you anxiety just to think of them seeing you in a way that you don’t want to be seen, okay?
Again, this is a lot of us. I used to do this all the time, all the time, so you may hear yourself saying in your head, or out of your head, depending on how you speak, or if you speak, some of us just nod our heads and don’t speak when it comes to relationships where we’re afraid to lose somebody: “I know it’s just something simple. I mean, the relationship is looking good. I hear from them every week, I don’t maybe see them all the time, and sometimes they say they’re going to call me and they don’t and then there’s an excuse of being tired or working too hard and I just figured that’s okay and I let it go, but then I’m pissed, and guess what else I am? I’m anxious. I’m anxious. This is making me anxious. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I just be okay with their habits, how they treat me, how often I hear from them? Why can’t I just be okay? They’re okay with it. I should be okay with it. Why do I want to have more?”
Have you heard yourself say those things? I’m saying either in your head or out loud, okay? I used to say these things and it was very painful because you would have a talk, “Okay, I hear you, I message you every day,” or every other day, or whatever, “But I’m a busy person, so this is all I can do.” Then, of course, you’re sitting there listening to this, and I used to sit there and listen to this and go, “I have all this anxiety, but I got to make it okay, what’s wrong with me? Why do I want more? Why do I want to hear from somebody on a regular basis?”
Then I’d start thinking, “What’s wrong with me?” and then trying to improve and make it better, so I’d have all this anxiety and I wouldn’t want to admit it, I wouldn’t want to say, “Hey, you know what? I feel different than you do,” because I’d be afraid of losing the relationship, so we do that and you talk yourself in and out of this crap being okay or not okay. Depending on the day, you have a different story about it. One day you might be pissed off about the fact that you are dating somebody or in a relationship with someone who’s maybe not showing up or giving what you believe they should give.
Again, that’s your perception, and not to go off subject, but really, if you’re wanting somebody to be different than they are, you got to ask yourself why you’re in the relationship with them. People aren’t here just to fill other people’s needs. You got to fill your own needs and then your needs change on what you expect in a relationship to be, sort of like needs being met without it being, “Hey, you need to meet my needs.” I’ve never said that to my husband, by the way, ever, and he’s never said that to me, either. I find it to be something, if you’re open, you’re open, but in this case, you’re talking about two closed doors. You’re talking about one person who’s suffering inside by the distance, right, the anxious attachment, and then you’re talking about the other person who’s more avoidant, right? That is painful.
You’re more than likely attached, like I just said, and the fear is what you focus on rather than the love. You’re focused on all of the fear of losing rather than the love and what love actually means, so it’s not a loving way to treat yourself. It’s not a loving way to treat the other person, either, because things that come from fear don’t feel genuine and people can feel manipulated by that because you’re so afraid of showing who you really are, and so then you don’t come across as genuine, you come across as somebody else.
People pick up on this. We pick up on these vibes from people. It’s just, we’re humans and that’s what we do, so you are not coming up with a way of being loving to yourself, and that’s the scary part because it just says, “Hey, I never really learned how to be loving. I learned how to be validated or invalidated as a kid. I was rewarded or I was punished, but hmm, I don’t know about love, right?” so you can walk on eggshells and you have all this anxiety with nowhere to put it and you keep hoping something’s going to change and you do not even know what you’re afraid of in the first place.
What I’m talking about is probably even a little bit more awareness than you have of what you’re actually afraid of. Most of us don’t know. We don’t know why we’re so anxious and we blame the other person. The problem is you’re a hostage to your own thoughts. That sucks, right? What about me? Me, me, me, right? Well, like I said, I did this. I did this, and as I’m saying this, there’s flashbacks to all sorts of moments in my past where, and a lot of my clients have done this, you feel you must pull off using the facade you have rather than be vulnerable.
I couldn’t be vulnerable. I couldn’t show this vulnerability at a deeper level because I felt weak and I felt stupid and I felt judged and I felt like I could be rejected because I’m so weak, why would somebody want to be with me? Just have a stiff upper lip here and deal with things as they are and accept them and say okay to it. Well, you want to accept things and say okay to it in terms of that’s what’s happening, but you also get to make a choice about being in it or not, right?
I did this all the time and I had no idea what caused it or why I felt so unsettled. I didn’t know. I didn’t understand it. It was in relationships with people who would tell me all was well, and yet the actions were totally different, right, and it was this constant, “I love you. Of course, I’m here,” blah, blah, blah, and then it was like they weren’t there, right, or they were kind of there, and they would say the things again, and then I would feel like an idiot, like, “Oh, my God, they’re saying those things. What is wrong with me? Why do I have a problem with this? Come on. Oh, my God.”
The things I settled for, and that’s why I say, “Oh, my God,” because I don’t have this anymore, this is not a part of my relationship because this is not a healthy way to be in a relationship. We have a lot of excuses to stay in these relationships, so I had a lot of them, too, and I was not okay. This came from all sorts of reasons. I didn’t even understand my part in it until I did understand my part in it, like why I said okay to this, or why I said not okay to this, or whatever. I didn’t really get what my shit was, okay?
Anyways, I had one relationship where unless I was with the person, I had anxiety, and I tried to hide it because he would get off and think I did not trust him. Yeah, so he would personalize my anxiety, and I, of course, then felt worse for having it and it didn’t make it go away. It’s kind of like when you’re a kid and your mom says, “Stop crying or I’ll give you a reason to cry.” It’s like, “Okay, now, it’s worse,” and then as a kid, you’re like, “Oh, my God, I’m going to burst,” because now, you feel worse, right? It’s the same shit.
Anyways, I would try to hide it and this was just a big problem and I felt like I’m freaking out most of the time, because while he was at work, if I was somehow off of work, it was like this ugliness, and I remember waiting for him to get home and having panic attacks. He lived far away, he lived like an hour from me, right, so I’d be waiting for him to get home. Sometimes, I couldn’t sit and wait at his place. I’d have to go drive somewhere and get some air. I mean, seriously, this is bad, and I’d be writing these lists of things down of what I was anxious about and how this was wrong and everything was really okay.
But I basically, at a deep level, didn’t trust the relationship or trust myself, and so it just was horrible because there were times when he’d come home and then I would share this with him, and again, he would get pissed, right, because it was just ugly and it would never end. Nothing ever made me feel better unless he was in front of me and I did not see myself clearly at all. I would write letters to myself a lot of times, even when I was home and he was home and we weren’t going to be seeing each other that day, and the thing is he would do some things that were pretty shitty.
I grew up with a mother who would hang up on me. She didn’t like what I was saying, she’d hang up on me, and he knew this. I was never somebody who would yell or name-call or is being a bitch, I would actually just be sharing how I feel, and he’d hang up on me and then he wouldn’t answer the phone, that kind of crap, right? But then when the tables turned at one point, because they did, and I became way less attached and he would do crazy shit like blow up my phone and then I wouldn’t answer him, but it was just because I didn’t want to deal with it at the time. He was doing it as a form of manipulation, and so this made my anxiety just go through the roof, okay?
Why is this a problem? Why is this a problem? Why can’t we just be in relationships like this and be happy? Okay, so the problem is the idea that somehow your feelings are wrong, or they just need to be stopped, is not really where you want to be in a relationship. This is something that people struggle with so much. “But it looks okay on the outside. It’s okay because they said it’s okay, so if they said it’s okay, I just need to get to okay.” No, you don’t. But anyways, your feelings are wrong, or you feel like they’re wrong, right, and this is not approached resolving the issue and it perpetuates itself in relationships. It’s like it just keeps going.
It really is a feeling of failing. Somehow, you’re failing of the relationship, or being good enough, or anything which makes you secure. The opposite is happening. You’re becoming unhinged insecure, right, and it’s all inside of you because you don’t want them to know. “No, no, I got to keep this a secret because you might freak out and that’s worse than me feeling all this crazy shit inside. For some reason, I can carry on with feeling shitty as long as you’re okay.” We do this all the time.
The lack of security feels horrible, whether it’s caused, in your mind, by the other person, or it’s something that’s actually happening in the relationship, right, because sometimes you can think things, and because you think it, you think it’s real, but you don’t know because in a relationship like this, if you’re holding back your anxiety or any craziness and not trying to be what you think is going to get somebody to break up with you or not see you anymore if you’re not in, let’s say relationship, you’re in a situationship, right, so you have to look at how you keep it in and it feels horrible and you feel like your anxiety is an imposition to the rest of the world and you got to ask yourself, “Why do I have to feel like this?” That’s a problem. That’s a fricking problem.
I know that I used to be like, “Why do I have to feel like this? Why do I have to have this anxiety?” If you’ve ever uttered those words and if you’ve looked to solve it by having a partner show up how you think they should show up and that’s how you’re going to solve the problem, or maybe you isolate yourself so no one is with you or making up stories as to why you have a love life that’s problematic, and I’ve done all of these, by the way, I’ve done the, “I’m not dating anybody,” and I’ve done the, “Why is my love life such a hell hole?” and I’ve tried to fix things in a relationship and it interferes with the ability to have a healthy relationship because a healthy relationship is not built on people holding shit back because they’re afraid of what their partner’s going to think or say, so you’re driving yourself crazy. It’s a problem. Especially, if you’ve found a partner who would find your feelings to be a problem. Yuck, right?
You need to look back in years and see where this first became an issue in your life. When you were a kid, were you told you were too sensitive? Maybe you were told you were not okay: “Stop feeling that way.” What were you told that you decided no one needed to know how you really felt, or at least when it comes to intimate relationships, how you really felt? Maybe you’re very honest with your friends. Some people say that and I tend to still go, “How honest are you, really? Or do you present this facade? The acceptable facade, right?” Sometimes you say things and people have a strong response and you feel like you need to shut down: “Ooh, never mind. I don’t have anything to say,” and it creates a problem in your life because of how you feel.
You have to honor your feelings. Most of us will not honor our feelings, and that’s the biggest problem you have, because you think your feelings are just a throwaway or wrong and they’re not. They’re your feelings. If you don’t own them, how the heck is anybody else going to ever respect them, okay? It doesn’t mean they’re right, by the way. It’s not about right or wrong. It’s about ownership, all right? This creates a problem in your life because you’re probably always looking for the right moment to be able to spill the beans, right? Maybe if you’re nice enough and earn some nice credits, you can finally feel okay divulging how you feel, or maybe you fear acting on it. You’re looking for something to say you can do it, or someone, I should say, someone or something to say you can do it, right, and that someone has to be you.
I remember years and years ago, I think I was like 18, and this was my first long-term relationship I had been in. I got my first long-term relationship when I was 17. I was kind of a late bloomer. I dated before that, but never had a relationship, and so anyway, I just remember, I used to always want to get my boyfriend drunk because that was the only time that he would let down his guard and share things and that was when I would let down my guard and I would share things. It still wasn’t like, “Oh, let me share my anxiety with you,” but it was very much about how I was so afraid and that was the only way. That’s sometimes what I mean about trying to find the right moment. We will go to extreme measures to find the right moment or we won’t disclose this shit, okay?
All right, the wisdom nugget, which is the call to action, guys, all right? Holding it in hides… Let me try this again. Holding it in hides it from no one. It makes you act weird. It does. Let it blow, then let it go without blame. You deserve it. I’m going to say that again. I don’t know why I’m having trouble reading one sentence, but I am. Holding it in hides it from no one. It makes you act weird. Let it blow, then let it go without blame. You deserve it. Hard to do, huh?
All right, so what’s the solution to all this stuff? Oy vey. Well, I’ve been already going into how you need to do certain things, right? You have to actually give yourself some form of respect for your own feelings and that’s really hard to do because after a lifetime of deriding your own feelings, it’s difficult to go, “These have some kind of validity,” but unless you make your feelings valid, nobody else will. Again, it doesn’t mean they’re right and the other person’s wrong. It just means this is how I feel and I need to do something with my feelings rather than pretend they don’t exist.
The other thing is you want to make friends with the anxiety. This can feel super difficult because anxiety, to me, is the unhinged feeling. It’s not the I’m able to grasp doing anything besides wanting to run from my anxiety, and that’s the problem. You don’t want to run from your anxiety. You want to feel your anxiety. You want to at least recognize the anxiety, and that is before feeling it. In other words, it may be too intense to feel, so recognize it: “Oh, I have anxiety. Okay,” and notice how you react to it.
If you can’t stop yourself from going crazy, or drinking a bottle of vodka, or calling a friend and just going, right, because we’re talking so fast to get rid of the anxiety, or going on a walk, or doing whatever it is that you try to do to get rid of the anxiety, pay attention to how you react to it: “Okay, I’m having anxiety. All right, I can’t feel the feelings because it feels too scary, so let me start there, just paying attention to my own reaction.” You may try to do things, of course, to please the other person. A lot of my anxiety was, “How can I strategize? What’s the strategy I can come up with? What can I do to please them?” that kind of a thing, and that would somewhat take away the anxiety because then I could funnel all of that into an action that I would feel would manipulate the situation. Yeah.
The thing that you also want to not do is stop talking yourself out of how you feel. Just stop. Don’t say, “I need to have gratitude for this,” or, “Oh, I can feel better,” or, “What’s wrong with me?” Stop that shit because all that does is nothing. It changes nothing. It doesn’t hit your patterns. It doesn’t change your beliefs. It doesn’t do doo-doo/caca. It doesn’t give you more awareness. All it is is like a shutdown, okay?
Once you become aware of the reactions to your anxiety, another thing you can do is to become aware of your thoughts that are hooked into the anxiety. What do they say to you? Don’t be afraid to listen. A lot of us are afraid to listen to what our anxiety could possibly be saying, but go ahead and listen. Allow yourself, all right? As you listen, if you can also be the observer instead of the judge. A lot of those are already judging, like, “Oh, my God, I can’t believe I feel this. Blah.” Right? Instead, it’s observe: “Oh, wow. I’m feeling this way. Okay.” Instead of adding on a struggle, because you’re that you feel this way and you’re judging how you feel this way, that’s adding a struggle, don’t have the struggle, just observe.
When you can do this without beating yourself up or the other person or blame or any of that crap, because that doesn’t change anything, now, when you see your reaction, see if you can, this is a third step, you can stop and be with the feelings. Again, not judging the feelings, just being with them, so now, you’ve moved from noticing your reaction when you have anxiety, noticing you have anxiety, right, and now, you become aware of your reactions to your anxiety, and now, looking at them as the observer, rather than the judge is a big, big step.
But now, we’re going into the next step, which is to be with the feelings, okay? You can’t do this all in one day. I’m not telling you to do this all in one day, by the way. If you can do it, great. If you can’t, be kind to yourself on how fast you can do this. Maybe you can barely get to recognizing, “Oh, shit, I’m having anxiety,” because maybe you feel it all the time, I don’t know. You need to know the outcome you are attached to and ultimately let go of it. When you get to the deeper feelings and you start getting to your deeper motivation and the voice that feels like you’re going to fuck it all up, which is connected to your lack of worth, is probably going to show up, by the way, and so you need to know, “What is it that I am actually attached to? I’m attached to not losing this person. What’s the motivation for that? Why? Why does this matter?” That’s where you start to get to. It’s not cognitive. It’s a feeling exercise.
Then you want to take another step: Speak it, share it. That’s another step. What did I do? Well, I rode the wild bronco, as usual. I always like to say that because that’s exactly what it feels like, like a roller coaster, except I’m bucking, and I kept looking at what I was doing and how I was torturing myself, and I felt bad. I felt bad all the time. I felt like I was always wrong and so I let myself be everything I ever feared. I really did. I stepped into it and went, “Okay.” It felt weird to do that because I was so used to trying to prove that I was not fucked up. I let myself speak when I was anxious and found a whole new muscle in it. I built a whole new muscle and I stopped living in fear. That’s really the thing. Not that fear doesn’t ever come up, I stopped having it be what pushed me or guided me or made me make the decisions I made because I no longer wanted to hold my feelings inside or not share them. I started to do it.
For me, I didn’t share my feelings anywhere, and so when I started sharing my feelings, because I had anxiety in other relationships besides the loved ones, I realized I had to do that, and then it was really hard to move out of blaming other people and into being responsible for those feelings, right, because I wanted to be in a place of peace and connection, and so I shared, and I probably, as I said, I overshare to begin with, and so it’s okay because when I first did this, I was probably in a panic over losing someone or something, which I didn’t have in the first place. As somebody used to like to point out to me, “Well, you don’t have me, anyway.” Yeah, that was always nice, right? We were dating. “Well, I’m not your boyfriend, so really, why we having this conversation? I don’t want to hear this.” “Well, you want to keep seeing me?” “I do, but I don’t want to hear this,” right? You get stuff like that. I don’t know if you did, but I did.
I just started speaking up and not giving a shit and that actually did not make the other person disappear. What made the other person disappear is when I decided that I was done, that’s what made them disappear, and I learned a lot about, oh, people say some things, and boy, they do hang out longer than you thought they would, so you want to be able to get there, too. That’s what I did because now there’s no stopping me. I will say how I feel.
It’s not that I walk around saying how I feel to everybody because there’s some places that I go, it’s like, I don’t really care to share how I feel. Not because I’m hiding it, but because I don’t even want it to be part of the conversation because I’m not even going to enter into a relationship with this person where it’s really something that’s going to be worth it. I don’t mean, oh, I hold it back, because I never hold it back, but I look at how I want to treat myself with respect, and if I’m in a situation where it looks like it’s disrespectful to me, it’s not respectful for me to want to do anything with it. It’s like, I don’t even want to have this conversation, so I’m not going to, okay? Okay.
Wisdom nugget, again: Holding it in hides it from no one. It makes you act weird. Let it blow, then let it go without blame. You deserve it. What’s the universal right? The universal right is to be stuck holding it in and going nowhere. Yay. Not really. How you feel needs to matter to you enough to act on it. Not just tell your friends about it or feel you deserve anxiety or worse. It’s time to take the bullshit by the pooper scooper and step up for yourself. You got to step up for yourself. You are what matters. Yes.
What’s my wrap-up here? Well, wrapping this up is the fear of loss or failing can be paralyzing, especially that fear of abandon mixed in there, right, and you’re paralyzed holding this shit inside. It is an illusion that someone will leave you or think something is wrong with you if you share how you feel because most of the time they don’t. They may not want to hear it, but they’ll come back, because that’s never, ever the reason. One conversation is never the reason. Ever. Just so you know that, okay? When it comes to this, the truth is you control nothing. It is to show that you can share without blame and if someone wants to go, it is not because you have anxiety, it’s because they have their own reasons. Walking on eggshells keeps no one in your life.
What are two podcasts that are related? Number 363, Journey of Attachment: Love Your Anxiety, and number 523, My New Relationship is Awesome, but I’m Feeling So Anxious. Hey, if you’re feeling anxious, you really should get help. We have help. I have help in terms of a group program and we have one-on-one coaching and it’s wonderful and it makes people transform and people keep signing back up for it, that’s how great it is, so if you’re suffering, you don’t need to do this on your own. You want to contact either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, whichever email, doesn’t matter, it will get to the right person, and talk to us and we will get you into the right program because nobody should suffer like this. Seriously. Nobody should ever suffer like this. I did and it was a waste of my life. When I look back, I’m like, not that I regret it, because I learned a lot, but it was a waste in terms of how long it took me.
That’s the thing, because I want that part of my life back, right, like, “Oh, it would have been great if I would have decided not to go the hard way,” but a lot of us who have scarcity issues and are avoidant, we tend to avoid getting the help we need, and even if we say we’re going to get the help we need, we have trouble committing to it. It’s really about your value and if you value yourself enough to do something. All right, you guys? Whatever you’re doing, I hope you take care, and I’ll see you next time. Bye-bye.
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