When Pat Benatar said that “love [was] a battlefield”, I think that she was putting it lightly. Love is not just a battlefield, but also a broken down war zone of regrets, poor decisions, broken hearts, and way too many text messages that should’ve be said in person. Dating in this day and age has become so much of a struggle, that I’d rather have a drill sergeant put a gun in my hand and tell me to complete a ropes course in 5min. At least I would know my odds at success from the beginning. But what makes dating worse, absolutely worse, is my anxiety.
Yes, the word seems to be something that is thrown around carelessly, usually by hypochondriacs who need a scapegoat for their behavior, but having anxiety is a lot more common than you think. And it varies. It’s the worst when you like someone.
Anxiety disorders function as an umbrella term for an illness that is not temporary and can worsen with time. Yes, it resembles those normal moments of anxiety that everyone feels, but what differentiates them is the fact that these feelings can interfere with day-to-day activities, like your job, school, and yes, relationships.
Imagine this scenario. Pupils dilated, sweaty palms, goosebumps trailing up and down the sides of your arms, your heart beating aggressively against your thoracic cage, so hard that you think it might shoot through your skin. That’s just me waiting for a text back. The critical voices in my head tell me that I’m not worth the text back, that I’m not worth the attention, that I’m not special. I try to shut them out, to let them die. I try to clean my mind with metaphorical bleach, to make sure that no remnants of doubt remain, but they still creep back, and louder, forcing your words to sound like mockery, then eventually drowning them in a pool of my creation.
These voices are so loud that I’d rather give up and push someone away than vocalize my plight, because I’m more likely to trust the voices that beat me to a pulp, that discourage and break me down, since they are more genuine and trustworthy than “you’re cute” or “when are you free tomorrow?”
I’m the girl that could be dating someone seriously for months, and always be wondering if that person thinks about me when I’m gone — and not like you see in stereotypical movies. I mean that I pace back in forth, reading and rereading your words, like the holy book, suffocating myself with parallel realities where you turn to me with disdain, finally, and see the reality that is me… And that you hate it. I’m the girl who has multiple crushes on people, because I can’t bare the idea of depending on one — one means zero options. What makes things worse is that I wish and pray to not be this girl. I don’t want these feelings to take over my life, because I will never truly be happy if I let these worries invade my mind and take control. I want to embrace the doctrine of Tao and Te, but as soon as I feel like I’m approaching the surface, almost close enough to penetrate and breathe air, I’m dragged back under, further and further. I drown in my own thoughts, and the voices chastise me for trying to get better.
Dating with anxiety is not a battlefield, because the only one fighting is you. The battle is already lost, and you’re just climbing over a pile of invisible remains.