Hi all, this is a continuation of events from our April trip to visit my best friend in Santa Cruz County. I struggle with anxiety, and it gets amplified in social situations and during travel. On our mini-road trip and over the course of the entire day, I was extremely tense and on edge; as a result, I was acting toxic to my partner and pushing all my negative emotions onto him. Here’s what happened and how we handled the situation.
I had a fun time during our 1-Night Stay in Santa Cruz, but it was also an emotionally-charged experience. It tested my relationship with my partner. This ultimately strengthened our bond and style of communication.
Throughout the day, I’d been pushing all my worries and negative energy onto my partner. Fear of running out of fuel when looking for a gas station in Palo Alto; forgetting to bring the metal stakes for the Sport Brella and pushing the blame on him; critiquing his driving. When I had an anxiety attack after both our phones died before we could pull up directions to our Airbnb, I said many rude things callously and without thought. I was using him as a sort of emotional punching bag.
It’s worth noting that, throughout the day, I sensed something was bothering him and also asked if he was okay a couple times. Unfortunately, my offhanded remarks and body language said otherwise: I wasn’t providing a safe space where he felt comfortable sharing his feelings. He felt it best to keep his concerns unspoken… until he spoke up later that day when we were alone, to which I reacted horribly. I’m deeply ashamed to think I said things without cognizance of how much my words can affect him and hurt him emotionally.
What had happened: We ended our wonderful day with an abrupt and explosive argument. Driving back to the Airbnb after dropping off our friend, he pulled over to say how he was feeling, and I immediately acted defensive. It was difficult for me to get through the tough conversation we had that night… and we didn’t. In our time together, I’ve learned that our relationship goal of not going to bed angry or upset is a near impossible one. We’ve went to sleep on bad terms more times than I’d care to remember. This happened to be one of those nights.
When I’m upset and there are too many things going through my mind, I tend to shut down and stop speaking. At first, I thought my behavior that day was justified. When he mentioned how he felt, I was extremely troubled by the very idea that I was in the wrong. Didn’t I ask him if he was OK several times throughout the day? Why didn’t he speak up? I was clearly in denial, but I couldn’t muster myself to defend my skewed rationale: deep down I knew he was right, but didn’t want to put it into words.
Consequently, I contributed very little to the conversation because I was still stewing over the day’s events, and refused to reply when he spoke to me… I acted so immaturely, and we went to bed without reconciling.
It tore me up knowing how much I’d hurt him until, eventually, I decided to set aside my ego. In my head, I came to the conclusion: suffering from anxiety didn’t entitle me to project my neuroticism—in the form of erroneous doubts and judgment—onto him or anyone else. This dawned on me right before I fell asleep and I was way too tired (and too ashamed) to start our conversation back up again. I’d been exhausted physically by the long day and drained emotionally from our argument, and didn’t have any resolve to put these thoughts into words.
By the next morning, I could finally think calmly and clearly. We restarted the conversation under a completely different atmosphere: one that was open, understanding, and forgiving. I acknowledged how toxic my actions were. Laying together in bed, we quietly came to a mutual agreement: I would be more mindful so that my negative thoughts didn’t lash out at him, and he would immediately communicate how he felt if I ever said such hurtful things again.
I needed a reminder that we are not in opposition of each other. He’s the most supportive person in my life, and I should do everything I can to support him as well. My anxiety is my burden that shouldn’t be passed onto him… I don’t want to hurt my partner’s feelings again, and I don’t want to hurt anyone else in this same manner.
I’d like to end this post with some Positive Affirmations:
- I am determined to better handle how my anxiety manifests.
- I diffuse negative thoughts in a healthy manner.
- I am levelheaded when communicating about my worries and fears.
It’s normal for all relationships, whether romantic or platonic, to experience moments of tension and strife. When you throw anxiety in the mix, it might worsen the situation! However, it’s important to remedy any problem with the ones you hold dear. Even though the process of making up might be more painful and harder than fighting each other or ignoring the issue, you’ll have a stronger relationship afterwards and experience some personal growth along the way. Thank you for your interest in reading my personal story; typing this out helps me process things better, and I hope this might help others figure out their own anxiety and interpersonal communication struggles too.
Originally published on my old blog, The Plant That Never Blooms (on Blogspot)