The first time I felt teenage love, I didn’t tell a soul. For three years, my confused adolescent head kept my expressive thoughts silent. I wore the secrecy of a monk; alone in my anxiety and feelings of depression. Those who glanced never knew enough to see. Towards my school life ending, I realised my invisible barricaded walls, had cost me years of living. I forced myself to become an open book, to no longer keep my thoughts private. But does that help anxiety?
Elle Magazine published a piece last month, titled ‘I stopped Talking About My Dating Life for a Week’, written by Allison Raskin. Allison opens up about her OCD and anxiety which began aged 4, causing her to over analyse and ponder obsessively. She would reveal all to her friends, telling the ins and outs of her relationships. Asking for their opinions on trivial matters. This, as Alison shares, was indulging her obsession and “making it stronger”.
I grew up with a fear of being alone. Each time my friends didn’t wait outside my classroom for me at lunch, or went to a spot we usually didn’t visit, I’d feel deeply upset. My hands would clench my navy blazer sleeves, a sort of comfort blanket. What if they’ve abandoned me? What if I’ve upset one of them, and now they’ve decided to eliminate me from the group? Like Regina getting too fat for The Plastics.
How my analysing evolved
I’m four years old at pre-school. I’m sat with my knees crossed in a circle, and there’s two jelly moulds on the table. One is a rabbit, and the other I can’t remember. I wanted to get a closer look, because I was fascinated. My best friend had stopped going to the school, so I was by myself, and seeing other children stand up, I stood up as well. My teacher told me off, and that’s when I initially started to analyse.
Much hasn’t changed since then. Only, I can now control myself when I see moulded jelly. My need to obsess every situation and look at all sides, has fed my self-blame. My – what I call therapist, has described it as equivalent to hitting myself with a bat, forever blaming and punishing myself. And that’s exactly what’s happened in dating.
I help anxiety destruct relationships. We’re good – until I scrutinise a situation. Part of my brain knows it’s wrong. Yet it powerlessly backs down to my questions. After deliberating for an embarrassing moment of hours, I ask my friends. Or they ask me. “How was your date?”. I pass on my predicaments. People tell you to confide in those closest to you. Some say, confessions are a weight off your chest. Is that true?
Discipling our brains
In my post Relationship Advice: Is It Ever Worth Listening To? I said, “the ultimate conclusion is that relationship advice is about whatever feels good to you.” With my current partner, I’m weary of repeating mistakes. So, as Alison Raskin has tried, I’m going to keep my thoughts private to help anxiety. Which doesn’t mean I will resort back to my mysterious teenage self. I’ll ease up on my Carrie Bradshaw phone calls and go to my partner if there’s a query.
While anxiety is complicated and experienced in various forms, negative self-observation I feel, can reduce if we stop feeding into it. My technique involves thinking before I speak. I ask – what am I hoping to get from this conversation? Why do I believe this person is capable to offer insight I cannot find?
Privacy to help anxiety in a social world
Privacy is a rare trait to behold in a society that encourages openness. We actively post our breakfast, walking scenery and darkest concerns. Putting ourselves out there isn’t scary anymore, it’s natural. Maybe our balances need adjusting; perhaps some naturally discussed thoughts are better private?
More than my want to help anxiety, this is a discussion relating to trust. Trusting our relationships to keep them intimate, and trusting ourselves to not be wrong. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life held back by my mind. I don’t want to pull apart my partner and dissect him for reassurance. And since making this mental declaration and forcing myself to reveal less, I am worrying less. I am more content and free. Privacy has made me open.