A recent post from a friend and fellow blogger got me thinking about this topic. I remember when I started to feel anxiety in my last relationship. This was the 1st time I had opened up to someone completely and loved unconditionally. It was after the trust was broken with lies and deceit that I had my 1st panic attack. When the person that I put my trust and faith in betrayed me I felt scared and alone for the 1st time in my life, and it just got worse . My panic attacks continued for over a year after it ended.
I often wonder how will this affect me in my future relationships. Will I be able to trust again when I can’t even bring myself to date?
Until we bring awareness to our relationships, most of us live in love’s comfort zone — close enough to take the edge off loneliness, and distant enough to preserve our sense of being able to live without the other person. The tragedy is that many people who love each other are unable to express that love fully because they are unaware of how anxiety throttles and distorts their love. They feel, but not too deeply; they hold back, unable to make the final commitment. Yet those who protect themselves from the loss of love by blocking out love are already suffering from what they most dread. Forgoing love in the present out of anxiety about losing it in the future is a fool’s bargain.
At the extreme, unconscious anxiety can even turn love to hate. When one wants another and feels unworthy or unable to win their love, or fears being manipulated and hurt, anxiety can distort love into either hate or indifference. Hate is injured love, and it may be inflamed through anger into violence. Indifference is injured love retreating into numb withdrawal.
How can we respond to the anxiety that love provokes — to this deep dread of abandonment? The answer is not to love less, but to love more. Although the object of our love can be taken away, our ability to love can never be lost or taken from us. And if our ultimate love object includes the source of life itself, no one can ever take away the object of our love. The path to serenity is to love so much, so deeply and so unconditionally that we can never be without love. We can let the love of a spouse or a child or a parent expand far beyond our past self-imposed limits. We can let love become a reflex, a habit, an impulse that cannot be denied. Just as the answer to anxiety in general is not less anxiety, but greater and more meaningful anxiety, the answer to our anxiety about love is not less love but more love and greater love.
Anxiety is love’s limit, but not its enemy. Our anxiety guides us to the edge of our love. Our task is to keep changing anxiety into love — to have the courage to love passionately, universally and eternally. I believe if I keep practicing this and saying it over and over when I am ready the universe will grant me my best relationship ever.