Prev Next

Weddings, Marriage, Love & Anxiety


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

So, I’m not caught up on life yet. And well, I wanted to write for you guys about first anniversaries, and what happens in the days after… but… I also want to stay sane. So you’ll get that next week. But I’m so enjoying being BACK, that I wanted to talk about something on APW today. So, as I do, I went prowling around in my emails, and ohmygod, I found it. This anonymous wedding undergraduate post about cold feet and relationship anxiety really hit home for me. The writer has General Anxiety Disorder, and writes eloquently about it in a way that I think rings true for, well, the general human condition to crib from her post. But, I’m going to say f*ck it, and tell you point blank, I also have anxiety issues. Mine are, these days, on a much smaller scale (which basically means that 95% of the time I’m the most together and efficient ball of energy you know, and then it all gets overwhelming and oh shhhhhhiiiiiiittttttt is that the world collapsing? Then? FINE again.) but they are very real. So I really really really understand where the writer is coming from, and MAN she’s brave to say it.

And on a more general scale, who among us has *not* had some anxiety about our relationship, pre or post wedding? And dosen’t it feel better to just come out and admit it? I thought so. So let’s go:

I’m reluctant to chime in here, as I’m uncommonly private and have never contributed to the blogosophere. But the recent discussion about cold feet, dropouts, and divorce has been stirring, to say the least. So here goes.

I struggle a ton with doubt and cold feet—not just in my relationship with my fiancé, but in my relationship to myself and life on a big scale. I continually seek the insight and guidance of family, friends, and a cognitive behavioral therapist. I have been diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder, which at first sounded like a ridiculous term (don’t we all feel anxious about life in general—isn’t that part of the human experience and a particular problem of modernity?!?) but finally makes sense to me. I am anxious enough to be hindered by my own thoughts, to feel trapped by and afraid of my own thinking, to worry that I am “doomed to misery” because my mind has some bad habits that allow little room for the peace I crave. It’s cyclical and unproductive. And diagnosis or not, this is actually quite a common experience for folks.

So, regarding my impending marriage, of course I’m anxious! Sometimes I panic and want to flee, and I withdraw emotionally from my fiancé. And of course I deride myself for feeling this way—it’s a common behavior of anxious people to punish oneself. Should I “listen to my gut” and “trust my intuition” when I can pinpoint each of my cognitive distortions and when my body tells me a dozen conflicting things? My therapist says, “Yes, some people ‘just know’ they have found the right person, but YOU will never ‘know.’ Not with this man or another. You’ll have to choose whether this person is the one with whom you want to face the challenge of anxiety.”

But choosing!! What could be more symptomatic of anxiety than indecision? What could be more at the root of the “Age of Anxiety” than the proliferation of options, the expansion of possibilities, and the growing complexity of our identities? Yet we have to choose, daily and always, to stay alive! “To be or not to be” can be restated as “to choose or not choose.” Maybe this language is superfluous, but I’m trying to underscore that anxious thinking is deeply rooted and pervasive.

And then there’s my fiancé, who is unfathomably certain of me. (How? It makes me feel evil and blessed at the same time! And no, he’s not just pretending!) But not only is he certain of me, he chooses without hesitation to face the challenge of anxiety with me. He has seen me through five years of that challenge (including the chronic physical ailments that are psychosomatically linked), and it is not easy on him by any stretch of the imagination. If we were apart, we wouldn’t have this particular anxiety-trigger that every close relationship is (even when an anxiety disorder isn’t part of the equation)—indeed, we might be slightly more at peace. When I’m in a panic, how tempting it sounds to have one less thing to fret about! But apart, we also wouldn’t have the immense joy and solace that our togetherness brings. In every anxious spell I’ve experienced with him, his devotion has moved me to stay, to be still, and often to weep with gratitude.

I really have to restrain myself from calling my fiancé “a saint,” but I do want to convey how wonderful this human being is. Everyone in my life unanimously adores him, and thankfully, tells me with absolute conviction that he’s a keeper and a terrific match for me. Most importantly, of course, his radiance still makes my heart fluttery, and sleeping next to him is the truest sanctuary I’ve found. And yet and yet, like scratching an itch, how instinctually or habitually I find and cling to something I don’t like “about him.” Yes, I put “about him” in quotes because I am well aware that I use the lens of my own perspective to interpret “his” characteristics, to determine the implications of “how he is,” to judge the virtue of our relationship, and to predict our future! I’m not saying that I am inventing or imagining things. No, of course his irksome-to-me behaviors are in fact happening and are objectively observable by a machine incapable of judgment. And if another woman were his companion instead of me, she might be bothered by the same characteristics. But the extent of my agitation is distinctly a product of my “special” (I’ll pick a nice euphemism) mind. My criticisms of him are a mere fraction of my self-criticism. It breaks my heart that I burden him with my perfectionism; I have hurt myself enough already with its terrible edge.

Only in the past couple years have I sought professional help for anxiety. It’s difficult to comprehend how I lived without this help for so long! But the fact is, before I met my man, I had neither the insight nor the incentive to confront my mind and change my behaviors. The coping mechanisms that had worked (albeit disfunctionally) when I was solo no longer work with and for my companion. I want him to be happy, and miraculously, I finally find it imperative to be happy myself, to strive for it and to learn new ways of thinking and living. He, too, is inspired to grow. I used to worry that he would “change for me and not for himself,” but I quickly learned the distinction: it took us loving each other to see our own beauty and frailty reflected back at ourselves. It brings to mind the Velvet Underground song…

“I’ll be your mirror
Reflect what you are, in case you don’t know
I’ll be the wind, the rain and the sunset
The light on your door to show that you’re home

When you think the night has seen your mind
That inside you’re twisted and unkind
Let me stand to show that you are blind
Please put down your hands
‘Cause I see you

I find it hard to believe you don’t know
The beauty that you are
But if you don’t, let me be your eyes
A hand in your darkness, so you won’t be afraid”

…which, I have just realized, must be included in our wedding.

Thanks, APW, for your wisdom!

PS:

I appreciate the advice that we should be “110% certain” before getting married. But 110% certainty is not a part of the mental function of some people (like me), and it probably never will be. By that logic, I should never permit myself to be married to anyone–and that’s such a harsh prison sentence, it makes me cry to think about it. Would the wise thing be to postpone marriage until that elusive day of certainty arrives? I will die before then. The best I can hope for is between 80% and 100% certainty on a given day and enough faith to pull me through the other side of the ratio.

So, for the sake of anxious folks, I’m going to propose a new criterion for marriage, preserving your math: not 110% certainty, but 110% FAITH.

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

More in Recent Posts Staff Picks

[Read comment policy before commenting]

  • Richelle

    Dear friend:
    Your soul sings for this man. It is so clear in your words. My eyes are puddled up for you right now and for the daily struggle of anxiety and fear. We all know it in some fashion. You are brave. You are thoughtful. You have had the courage to seek help and tondo the hardest thing of all — to change. That is so huge. And your reward is your happiness, imperfect as it is, and you will GLOW on your wedding day because you have overcome and you have won. I’m so excited for you, and wish you so much sunshine. It will all be imperfect, but you alreadynknow life is imperfect and so are all weddings and all relationshios. And it will be beautiful! Hugs hugs hugs

  • Elissa

    I am crying right now, out of relief. I have been so wracked with anxiety about my fiance and my wedding lately. I didn’t know why, because I had been so ecstatic. I love him, he makes me so unbelievably happy. I kept thinking, “What if we stop being happy with each other? What if we get divorced? What if we shouldn’t even get married? How will we be able to live together? Maybe I won’t be able to put up with (x behavior). Maybe he won’t be able to handle my crazy crazy self.” And then I read this. And it spoke to me. This is my mind and my struggle, though perhaps on a smaller scale of anxiety. I am never certain of my life decisions; I have difficulty even picking an outfit for the day or deciding on what restaurant we should have dinner at. So thank you, anonymous writer, because I feel so much better knowing that I’m a person who won’t “know” because of my anxious mind that doubts me at every turn. I can stop tormenting myself over the negative thoughts, now. I want to hug you.

    • Brandie

      I’m so relieved to hear this. I’ve been with my hubby 8 years, married a year and a half. Up until a few months ago, I had never questioned our relationship but I had never had anxiety disorder before then. I started having the “weepies” for no reason at all. So was treated for depression and shortly there after the anxiety started. I still didn’t doubt my relationship until my anxiety was REALLY bad (due to not finding the right treatment right away-therapy pills etc). As my anxiety got worse I started having many of the same thoughts you have and the author has.

      “What if I’m not supposed to be married?” “Am I unhappy in this relationship?” All the while crying hysterically telling all of this to him…ironic right? I can purge my soul and want him (desperately) to hold me while I tell him fears/doubts about our marriage.

      I’ve been torturing myself with these feelings, searching blogs (like this one) for answers and for people who can help me relate.

      I’ve also felt that comfort in his arms. When I get upset, lying on his chest listening to his heartbeat gives me comfort and security. We’re even going to couples counseling…not because we have really big problems but he’s willing to go so we can learn how to be in this relationship with my anxiety. How we can grown stronger together and not let it break the bond we have now.

      Sorry for my rant, I’m just so excited and relieved to find people who understand!!!

      • anonymous

        Hi, i so needed to read your comment this morning. I know this was a while ago, but I too, have been searching blogs and this site for someone that can offer any insight or advice. Just someone to make sense of all this! I met my SO two and a half years ago, and we had a whirlwind beginning, and have been living together for almost two years now. We have talked of marriage and kids and our whole lives together since the beginning, and I have felt so whole and blissful and excited and grounded in our love. I have shown her pictures of rings, we have tried on rings a year ago, I would tell anyone who asked that we are planning on getting married and gush about her. Then, suddenly, this past week I literally woke up one day with a ton of anxiety about it all. Like freaking out. My body, my chest, everything. Starting going into all of these downward spirals in my head – it is terrifying me and scaring me to the core. I’m starting to hear all of these things “people” say whirl around in my head, and all I wanna do is crawl back into my safe place with my SO and get back to normal. I have had anxiety before, and I guess my body is sensitive in that way, but never about THIS part of my life. How can you go from being so sure and feeling so lucky and grateful and wow this is the sweetest grounded love ever to feeling liek you’e going to throw up and explode??? Any help?? I’ve been reading the posts about cold feet and doubts which have helped calm me a little but this past week has been a crazy anxiety roller coaster. I have my whole life planned with this person – what is going on????

      • anonymous

        Oh and also, it’s been so weird because I would literally day dream of our wedding and saying my vows to her ALL the time, and it would bring so much peace and joy and i would literally squeal inside thinking oh my god! we’r really gonna get married! this is too good and it IS true!! i’ve had ALL of those cheesy wedding loveydovey feeling and all the sudden cant stop my head and my body from going crazy.

  • Lily

    I LOVE THIS. Finally, anxiety and cold feet addressed, and so eloquently! This makes me so calm and so peaceful knowing others are having a similar experience, and that I am not diving headfirst into something my gut twists into knots about every other month. The times when I’m not overwhelmed with worry are times where I am happier than I’ve ever been. Feeling evil and blessed at the same time is a perfect, perfect description.

  • http://www.ukuleleinrouen.blogspot.com Kinzie Kangaroo

    I have to say, this was one of the most beautiful and powerful thoughts that I have ever read. Congratulations to you for having such clarity of thought and for having the bravery to share it. Thank you for offering up your story and your wisdom, and your eloquent words. I wish you nothing but faith in your relationship as you live it one day at a time.

  • fleda

    Thank you thank you thank you. For speaking up for those of us who will never experience “110% sure” about anything. For those of us who are constitutionally incapable of “just knowing.”

    My husband and I are BOTH inveterate doubters, both relentlessly analytical and rational, both deeply skeptical of the whole institution of marriage as practiced by many, haunted by the sad stories of others. But we got married–after MUCH agonizing, much fear, many excruciating intense, brutally honest conversations. And I have to tell you–it felt overwhelmingly, unexpectedly great. We walked down that aisle together feeling such release. It still (admittedly, only a few months later) feels great. For us, it was a matter of making a leap and claiming from fear and doubt something we wanted to make part of our lives.

    We still worry. There are so many things to worry about: will we have kids? Will we regret doing so? Regret not doing so? Will we resent each other because of that regret? Will we be able to manage a two-career relationship with neither party feeling thwarted? Can we grow together rather than apart in the decades ahead, as we inevitably change and develop individually? Can we deal with the stress of our variously difficult families and care for our parents as they age?

    But we decided that to give in to these sorts of worries would be to live in a stunted way. So we made that leap. Life is short, and we think we can live it well together. There’s so much rich experience out there to be savored, and there’s no time to waste in being afraid.

    Best of luck to you–

  • Mary

    YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Thank you for putting into words what I felt over the past year of my engagement. I too have had severe doubts and fears around my husband, but also surrounding everything in life! I totally agree with you, those of us with intensely analytical minds (another good euphemism for anxiety!) will never be 100% sure about anything, and its ok, aim for 75%-80%. Despite all my fears, despite all my anxiety-related illnesses, my wedding was wonderful, I never, ever expected to say that, but moments of great happiness, joy and peace can belong to everyone, even those of us who are “evil and blessed at the same time.”

  • ka

    thank you.

    this was everything i needed to hear. faith, not certainty IS enough. i cannot thank you enough for writing this. and thank you meg, for posting this.

    (sorry, i’m crying too hard to say much more than this.)

  • Jessie

    I also struggle with severe anxiety issues so this hit home. Thank you for sharing. My friends and family often struggle understanding my issues (“We just did it. I dind’t really think about it.” is the answer I most often get when asking for advice. Unfortunately, not really thinking about it has NEVER been an option for me and probably never will be. Thank you again for an honest post about this struggle that affects so many people.

  • EA

    so timely. i’ve been staying away from apw lately because stories of 110% certain brides have sent my own anxiety issues into gear. i’ve had nights where i can’t sleep, days where i feel like i just want to stick a pin in my gut to relieve the pressure of the anxiety. so many what ifs have been flooding my mind, seemingly out of nowhere, some about the day of, some about being married.

    what if I’m not filled with joy on the day of my wedding? what if the anxiety comes to a tearful head? what if he’s not grinning ear to ear as we say our vows? what if i call him the night before and he doesn’t answer because he’s asleep but i think he’s not answering because he doesn’t want to talk to me? what if we start fighting after we’re married? what if one of us cheats? what if we aren’t happy? what if what if what if.

    and he, he is so certain, so steadfast that i find myself clinging to his certainty in the hopes that some of it will rub off on me, but feeling like i am, as you said, evil for not having the ability to return his certainty.

    and god it feels so wonderful, so relieving to know that i’m not the only one out there who is feeling this. thank you for sharing these words i needed to hear.

    so here’s to Faith.

    • zoe

      Yes!

      I’ve been having the same reaction to these 110$ sure brides. Obviously, that is their truth. But for me, another Generalized Anxiety Disordered (plus panic disordered person) who can ruminate and “what if” myself to death, if I had to feel 110% certain of things, well, I’d probably never leave the house or talk to another human being.

      My worry over some of these APW folks actually sent me back into therapy, which I’d been out of for awhile. My therapist said a few things which were really helpful.

      1.) My fiance does not have to be my everything. If I’m freaking out because he doesn’t like going out to dance parties with me (I’m an oddly extroverted worrier), I can go out with my friends. If he doesn’t like talking political theory with me, I can take a class. It’s not fair to expect one person to be ALL THINGS AT ALL TIMES. What IS important is that he is who I want to come home to when I’ve done all these things. He feels so solidly like home.

      2. It is perfectly normal to have very complicated feelings about something that is as big as marriage. While for some people, they may just ‘KNOW’ she pointed out that it is actually very common to have some feelings of ambivalence – especially for those of us who didn’t grow up dreaming of getting married. And that if we do have these complicated feelings, it is so important to acknowledge them instead of pretending they don’t exist because we’re not ‘supposed’ to feel anything but elated.

      I’ve also found it intensely helpful to be honest my the dude. Instead of bottling it up, to just say, I’m feeling really anxious because I keep worrying about grad school and what if I need to go away, and you can’t get a job there, and then I don’t go to grad school and I feel resentful. And he usually says something wonderfully soothing like “You can do whatever you need to do. I will support you. We will make it work.” And this? This is exactly why I have faith.

      • EA

        Zoe, i want to hug you now. seriously. or at least get coffee together and talk and maybe i can cry a little :)

        thanks for the recap on the advice from your therapist. i too am an extrovert (if i admit to having anxiety issues people tend not to take me seriously. i’m good at hiding it. which is why i’m terrified to bring this up to friends.) and both of those points resonate with me. very thoroughly. so this is my verbose way of saying Exactly!

      • Katelyn

        1.) My fiance does not have to be my everything.

        THIS. Was the biggest revelation of my relationship, and probably saved it. Giving each other space, and more importantly, understanding why, is what changed us from high-school caliber to a full-blown adult relationship.

        • Anna

          Me too. I dunno why, just hitting exactly didn’t seem like enough. :P

      • meg

        I just have to point out, “My fiance does not have to be my everything.” and “It is perfectly normal to have very complicated feelings about something that is as big as marriage,” could be APW thesis statements. So really, really ladies. When a post is bothering you, go find a post with the opposite persepctive, yesss?

      • http://livinglnf.blogspot.com Jo

        Exactly. AND, just so you know, having gotten married under the same set of feelings/worries… it is totally possible to have a completely, utterly, full of love blissed out wedding day. I did. You will too, I’m guessing.

      • merryf

        Zoe, Thank you this. I’ve also got some anxiety issues and I worked with my own therapist for months — really hard, hard work for me — about how I was so freaked out that I didn’t feel I loved him 110 percent. I thought something was wrong with me, like I didn’t know how to love, because there were times I said, “I could walk away right now and not feel like the world was ending.” Having someone say to me “he doesn’t have to be your very best friend” was like the heavens opening up with the light of knowledge.

        On my wedding day, I was so anxious that I was doing the wrong thing because I didn’t feel the overwhelming omygodthisistheverybestdayofmyliiiiiife! feeling, that I kept shifting from one foot to the other with all my extra energy. If I didn’t do it, I would’ve run right into the woods so I could breathe and get away from it for a minute or two. The whole day I looked at him, he told me, with some sort of freaked-out look. I just remember thinking, Holy shit, I married him, it’s so wrong, and Holy shit, I married him, it’s so right.

        I finally realized, I’ll never be 110 percent. But I will be as sure as I can be, one day at a time, that he is right for me and marrying him was the right decision. I have to trust myself that i know my instincts and that I did the best thing for me. And that’s how I get through the days.

      • Lauren

        Wow, reading this was officially an “ah ha!” moment for me.

        Bless you for posting this.

      • http://christytylerphotography.blogspot.com Christy

        Oh my gosh – Zoe!!! Your #1 point just really hit home with me. I need to remember this. I freaked out recently because my husband was not enjoying himself at my friend’s wedding (wonder why?! duh, me.) and we ended up getting in a big fight about it and I actually said to him, “Maybe we’re just not compatible!” Hmm. I have realized since (after lots of talking… and also laughing at how freakin’ dramatic I can be) that my husband doesn’t have to (and most likely won’t) want to do EVERY single thing I want to do for the rest of my life. I’ve realized that I may have to take some trips with my family or girl friends instead of with him… that I can ask my friends to see a movie or meet someone out for drinks if he is not feeling like doing it that day. That just because he doesn’t have all the exact same wants and needs as me at the exact same time (how unrealistic was I to think this?!) – doesn’t mean we aren’t great together still!

        This post just reiterated that for me – so thank you SO MUCH! That is absolutely what I needed to hear and will be important for me to remember now & thru our marriage. He does not have to be my everything all the time… and that’s okay! :)

      • Tina

        Wow. What an intense conversation. Zoe, I completely related to and understand your comment. It hit home for me in a big way. My worries are exactly the same as the ones you listed. The advice was really helpful. Thank you!

    • Rey

      Thank you for your post: it’s wonderful to hear I can relate to many out there; feeling the same way I am with only 8 days away from my wedding..I can’t stop crying..

      Faith…PRAY…LOVE

    • Han

      EA, I am literally crying at my desk at work right now. Everything you said is exactly how I feel and am going through right now. It has helped me relax (for now at least!).

      Thank you

  • Joselle

    Thank you. I too am on the verge of tears. I’ve had a rough couple of days. I’ve had a rough year. I’ve had a rough decade. I have ALWAYS been anxious, since I was a child. And I’ve been depresses on and off since I was young as well. To cope in my dysfunctional, alcoholic, loveless (between my parents) home, I HAD to be anxious. It protected me. If I worried FOR my parents, it made me feel a little more at ease because, well, they weren’t worrying about me. I was a very, very old kid with a long checklist of worries I had to click through each day just to make it.

    That was great as a child. It meant I sailed through intact and I am great in a crisis. But now? It doesn’t usually serve me (that’s an understatement). Today, I am actually determined to not enjoy my wedding because it will suck anyway, right? And no one will have fun, of course? And I have no friends? And I feel numb and nothing and life will always suck. I have seriously been having these thoughts for the past few days and they have flitted into my mind on and off during this wedding planning period. Once they pass, I know it’s not reality and I know that I can only live that day for me, not for my guests, not for my groom, not for anyone. And I KNOW that the more joy I feel, the more joy my guests will feel. And I know I need to breathe. But when those thoughts are flashing like neon signs in my head, I just can’t believe anything else. I feel awful, so lonely. I push everyone away. I come here and read people saying things like, “I’d marry my husband in my pajamas in our living room, that’s how much I want to marry him,” and I’m like, wow, I SO don’t feel that, I must not love my fiance or anyone and I truly suck (did I mention I veer towards masochism too!? Why come here on those Bad Thought Days!).

    I realize that I am really struggling with anxiety and depression right now. Why wouldn’t I be? I have been for most of my life and now I’m about to get married in my 30th year while also going back to school to completely switch careers after having moved to a new city in a new neighborhood that is hard to love and just getting through the first year of my fiance and I living together after 3 1/2 years of long distance. I have much to be anxious about on a good day so when those bad days come, it is BAD. I’ve been reluctant to take meds and I’m not in therapy now (I miss my old therapist) but reading this post and typing away my longest comment here after mostly lurking and feeling at once inspired and not good enough while reading APW, I realize I need some help.

    I may never feel 110% about anything in my life either. I don’t know what it feels like to NOT be ambivalent about everything. But I do know that my fiance loves me and lord, he just might be a saint (with sometimes annoying habits!) who puts up with me saying things like, “I don’t want to get married. I hate this wedding. Our wedding will suck,” every other day. And then in the next minute saying, “What do you think of this cute wedding recipe box on etsy!?” How does he put up with me? If he said that to me, I would flip. But the fact that I can say that, and he can take it, and be there for me and see past my anxiety and fear, even on a bad day, I know he is a good man, a thoroughly kind and loving man who still manages to see all of me, even when I lose myself.

    • EA

      Joselle, i do that too–the coming here when i’m at my worst as if i want to confirm my negative, anxious thoughts.

      and then i go to the weddingbug and it makes me feel a little better that at least i’m freaking out over serious things :)

      • Joselle

        Ha! Must try weddingbug today!

    • Vmed

      I hear you.

      And my on/off anxiety and “dark funks” (where nothing will possibly be right ever again and it’s my own fault because I say so) which had lay dormant for many many months (and that is a big deal) got triggered by getting engaged.

      Not immediately, for the first few weeks all was coffee and cookies, but THEN the world crashed.

      I think it’s really common, dare I say Normal (as in, you could probably fit a gaussian distribution curve to the recurrence of anxiety in previously anxious/depressed people experiencing an impending rite of passage) to need help righting the boat*.

      You’re not alone, and you’ll be in my thoughts.

      *the brain boat. I tried to think of another way to end that sentence, but I’m a neuroscience grad student…so I couldn’t and I’m sorry.

    • http://livinglnf.blogspot.com Jo

      So this might be weird, or even deemed as unhealthy, for some. But I found it useful. When I was planning the wedding and worrying about whether or not anyone will have fun, I heard from someone musing about weddings that the guests will take their cues on how to behave from the bride and groom. If you are smiling and having fun, they will smile and have fun. And I realized, my job on that day was not to worry about details, or perfection, or making people happy, but it was to focus on what would work for me, what would make me functional, accessible to joy. So that I could have that smile on my face, allowing everyone else to do the same. The weird part is this: for some people (i.e. me), anxiety is about making sure everyone else is happy, and so realizing that my responsibility to make myself happy that day was the best way to ensure that others could also enjoy it was something I could focus my worried mind on accomplishing. And of course, that lesson applies to every day, doesn’t it??

  • http://christytylerphotography.blogspot.com Christy

    Wow. I think this is one of my absolute favorite posts to date. What a beautiful, beautiful post. I’m big time in tears right now and super happy I did not read this at the office! Whew…

    I loved this part especially:
    It took us loving each other to see our own beauty and frailty reflected back at ourselves.

    That is amazing… and absolutely what love and marriage should be. We all have self-doubt in our lives – so having that ‘mirror’ to help us see ourselves in a better light is truly a blessing…

    Thank you for sharing this! Best of luck with your big day – I’m positive it will be a fantastic day! (Wedding graduate post – pretty, pretty please???) :)

    • http://christytylerphotography.blogspot.com Christy

      Oh – and this part – I loved this part too:

      Not 110% certainty, but 110% FAITH.

      Yes! :)

  • Lauren

    I’m a first-time commenter, but felt compelled to say something today. I stumbled across this blog at at time in my engagement when I TRULY needed it (some real perspective on weddings and marriage). My fiance’s father passed away 7 months before we were getting married and somehow the blogs that esteemed flowers, favors, and decor didn’t resonate with me anymore. This blog did, with it’s perspectives from honest and courageous women. I’ve been avidly reading since, but this post is something that I will (crying while writing this) always remember and refer to. I know I have anxiety and that “knowing” feeling is something that I’ve burdened myself with trying to find, knowing full well that I will never be able to have this. I actually wrote in a journal yesterday that marriage for me will be about FAITH – and I got goosebumps reading the last sentence of this post. Thank you.

  • http://tinyglimpses.blogspot.com Meg

    110% FAITH = My new mantra.

    Thank you for being so open, selfless, and brave by sharing this with us. It’s exactly what I needed to read today. Bless you.

  • http://bluesuedeidos.wordpress.com Beth

    I’ve been on the other side of this — I was in a five-year relationship with a man who suffered from anxiety disorder. And all I can say is you appear to be more certain of your love and upcoming marriage than you realize. Your words came from your heart, and they’re more telling than the doubts you have in your brain. Thank you for being a brave soul and writing this.

    • Kristina

      Ditto. I’m in a relationship with a man who suffers severe anxiety and depression and I’m to the point where I don’t know if I can do it for the rest of my life. He doesn’t get the help he needs and being on the other side of constant doubt and questioning can be rather lonely. Taking the steps to behave differently shows how much she loves this man.

  • Bridget

    Thank you SO MUCH for this post. If only I got to read it yesterday when I was so worked up and doubted myself so much that I thought i’d need to call off the wedding. All the ‘110% sure’ and ‘when you know, you know’ comments only serve to heighten my anxiety and self-doubt. Reading East Side Bride’s post on cold feet yesterday pushed me over the edge, so it’s so great to read this and breathe a sigh of relief that there are others who over-analyse, and are plagued by doubt and indecision.
    Your comments about being hard on your fiance and projecting your need for perfection on him is just what I do, and I punish myself for it because I know it’s a terrible thing to do, but can’t seem to help it. He too is a most amazing, selfless and kind man who gives so much unconditional love.
    Thank you for being brave enough to put all of this into words and wishing you all the best for your wedding and marriage, it sounds like you’re onto a great thing :)

    • http://bondingcarbonunits.wordpress.com/ Sarah K.

      All the talk about cold feet and certainty scared the crap out of me, but the most recent post on East Side Bride was completely and utterly terrifying. The timing of this post on APW could not be better. Seriously, SALVATION.

      • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

        i thought the eastside post was entirely different than this one. it’s the internet, so who really knows.

        but the doubts this poster expressd are… normal-ish… for her. the eastside chick was going on about not being able to be herself with her guy and about how she tiptoes around his feelings when she makes a decision. those aren’t the kind of doubts i would wish on anyone.

        this poster describes “immense joy.” eastside chick said her guy is “kindhearted.”

        not really the same thing.

        • http://bondingcarbonunits.wordpress.com/ Sarah K.

          Oh, I totally agree!! The East Side post deeeeeeeeefinitely sounded like she needed to pull back, rethink, and possibly call of the wedding. It wasn’t about cold feet; it was about a relationship that didn’t sound right for the person at ALL.

          But that’s the problem with anxiety; it’s irrational. I read the ESB post and it was about “cold feet” and this person worrying and it’s too damn easy for me to compare it to my worries and my fears. So suddenly I’m spiraling from “cold feet” to “OMG WE SHOULDN’T GET MARRIED THIS IS A MISTAKE”, without any real rational provocation. It’s not ESB’s fault, or Meg’s, or anyone else’s, even mine! It’s the way my mind works. Because I’m aware of it, I try and tamp it down, but there’s only so much I can do. And where posts like the one on ESB rattle me, posts like this one on APW help shore up my resources, help remind me that I’m not alone, and that even if I’m not “certain”, that this is definitely right.

          • http://katydid972.wordpress.com Kathryn

            That ESB post freaked me the hell out, too, and I’m already married!!

          • ka

            i can’t exactly this enough. i just now, having been properly warned by you guys, went over to ESB to torture myself by reading that post! why is my anxious side so masochistic? hahaha (thankfully, i was so buoyed by this post today, and an upswing in mood in general, that i’m not letting it bring me down.)

    • FK

      Oh my god, you guys!! I went through the same god-damned thing! This is hilarious! It seems over the past few weeks there have been quite a few of these “Be Certain, 100% certain, when-you-know-you-know” posts, so when I saw the headline for this one, I was like … umm… Maybe I won’t read it. SO glad I did. Ha! BTW, I was the Anonymous commenter on that post who joined in with the one other person saying that doubt isn’t necessarily a relationship death sentence. And, definitely you make an excellent point, Liz, but for those of us who have this fear, it takes so little to trigger it! But I reasoned with myself very similarly to calm myself down. ;) I’m getting married in less than two weeks, and I was talking with my therapist last night being like, What is wrong with me that I let myself get freaked out by blog comments? Anyway, totally relate to this woman’s story and y’all! Also, wow, I never really paid attention to the lyrics in that great Velvet Underground song. So beautiful!

  • http://bravebride.blogspot.com/ Kim NYC

    I want to “exactly” the heck out of these 3 statements:

    “And then there’s my fiancé, who is unfathomably certain of me. (How? It makes me feel evil and blessed at the same time! And no, he’s not just pretending!) But not only is he certain of me, he chooses without hesitation to face the challenge of anxiety with me.”

    “But the fact is, before I met my man, I had neither the insight nor the incentive to confront my mind and change my behaviors. The coping mechanisms that had worked (albeit disfunctionally) when I was solo no longer work with and for my companion.”

    “The best I can hope for is between 80% and 100% certainty on a given day and enough faith to pull me through the other side of the ratio.

    So, for the sake of anxious folks, I’m going to propose a new criterion for marriage, preserving your math: not 110% certainty, but 110% FAITH.”

  • http://memyselfandbride.blogspot.com/ Jen

    LOVE LOVE LOVE
    Thanks for writing and sharing and baring it all! I would say I also have higher than normal anxiety and indecision because of it, so 110% certainty is not something that I can do.

    But 110% faith? THAT I can do!

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com jolynn

    Wow. Wow. And wow again.

    This resonated so strongly, about choosing something, and then having the faith to follow through with it. Beautiful, incredibly well-written, and very well-timed. Hugs to you, and I’m so glad that you have an excellent support system in your family, your therapist, and your love.

  • Mel

    I loved this post, and I’ve appreciated reading the comments so far. I just wanted to share my impression of an aspect of APW. What I take as the “atmosphere” or “norm” of APW is that this is a place where people can share their personal experiences without imposing that on other people. Like “This is how it is for me but no pressure for you to be that or feel that because we are smart empathetic ladies and we know that everyone experiences things differently.” I feel extremely validated here, even in the ways I may differ from certain people — the scent in the air here affirms and validates that you are OK, your feelings about marriage are OK, and your wedding will be OK. I feel a little confused that some have been mentioning lately that they are comparing themselves to some of the APW writers or commenters. Maybe that is natural and inevitable, but my hunch is that is not the intended result.

    • EA

      Mel, it’s not the that the posters intended to inspire comparison. not at all. those are beautiful, wonderful, joyous moments and feelings that they are sharing as their own truths. it’s just that for some of us, the comparing is inevitable. it feeds the anxious feelings. you read, I’d get married in my pj’s right now, and I hope every bride gets to feel this joy, and you think, Holy sh!t. Get married right now? This very moment? But what about x,y,z?? and What if I don’t get that joy? What if I’m overthinking so much that day that that joy is absent? Is it me? Is this wrong?

      And yet i know this: it’s me; not the people who have posted.

      • meg

        I think Mel is right though (and I know of what I speak, since I have an anxiety disorder… though indecisiveness is not part of my particular disorder. Achem, obviously).

        Anyway, writing a site like this I work really hard to air a whole lot of viewpoints that I think are totally honest and true, and totally conflicting. Often I think seemingly opposing viewpoints are both are true… and I just have one brain. Like, yes, I was 110% sure about my marriage! Yes, I have crazy irrational anxiety about my marriage! And I think it’s actually really cool to have both sides of my thought process validated. Like: Yes! Both of these things can be true AT THE SAME TIME FOR THE SAME PERSON! YESSS!

        So. What I’m dancing around here is that no one should ever feel like one voice or one idea or one set of comments of the site is the end all and be all, or is a yardstick for comparing themselves against. Because A) Your truth is your truth and having a place to speak your truth is rad. and B) A reader writing about overwhelming joy might also have had overwhelming anxiety, that just wasn’t something she talked about in the two paragraphs she strung together for APW.

        But hopefully, collectively, all the posts on APW, when looked at in wideview form some sort of mosaic of truth.

        And I get that those of us that are anxious are anxious. But if some sentence or line of thought on APW is making you freak out, try to take a step back. Go find a post that says the opposite thing. Read that for awhile. Have a whisky. And then think of something new to be anxious about ;)

        • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

          haha, meg. i wanted to say, “HOLY CRAP, if it’s doing that to you, DON’T READ THE BLOG.”

          but didn’t want to scare your readers away lol. and didn’t want it to sound like, “fine. you don’t need to play here any more,” when i really meant, “ACH, don’t do that to yourself, dear one!!”

        • http://bravebride.blogspot.com/ Kim NYC

          Yup, I’ve fallen into the trap of letting a comment or two shake me up a little too much. I have to remind myself that most of what people write on here is almost entirely shaped by their own experience and only relates to my particular situation as much as I allow it to.

          “But hopefully, collectively, all the posts on APW, when looked at in wideview form some sort of mosaic of truth.”

          True dat.

        • Erin

          “B) A reader writing about overwhelming joy might also have had overwhelming anxiety, that just wasn’t something she talked about in the two paragraphs she strung together for APW.”

          This is a revelation I had all on my own this last week, and this thought was buzzing around my head all morning as I read the post and the comments. How EASY is it to forget that we’re all prone to filter how we present ourselves, especially in a forum like the interwebs where anonymity is the prime effect? As in, I can be equally likely to rush in to reassure someone whose despairing comment tugs my heartstrings as to throw up my hands in my own despair because MY husband thinks living right here in suburbia is just perfect, thanks very much and so-and-so and her fiance are having a blast living in the city and eating gelato on date nights (waaaaaaiiilll! where is my gelato!!!???!!! Why doesn’t my husband like gelato too???? Ok, that was a shallow example, but you understand what I mean. Right? Right.)

          So yeah, we are selective about how we present ourselves. What I see, though, is that this community is maturing as it grows, and the selectivity is growing to include presenting the vulnerable aspects, in the comments and the posts. So that mosaic of our true experience is less pixel-y as our collective truth enhances it. Just keep scrolling!

          • meg

            I don’t even know if it’s that we’re selective about how we present ourselves, but that we can never present ourselves in totality in one post. I’ll write a post about how great, say, our anniversary is, but I might write another post about the bad parts of the SAME anniversary. But I get to do that, because I have unlimited room to write on this site ;) But other people can’t write seven billion posts with seven billion perspectives on one subject, so I think we just always have to remember they are presenting one *facet* of their experience and selves.

          • ddayporter

            yep, when I was writing my grad post I realized I had to filter myself and probably everyone else has to also – because there’s just too darn much to write about for one post. I ended up going for the positive-thinking-gets-you-everywhere message, because that was a big truth for me and I felt like it might be helpful to someone. BUT I could have gone on and on about a ton of other things, anxiety and indecisiveness definitely being one of those, not to mention why my dad didn’t come to the wedding and how I came to terms with it – etc. Honestly the state of mind I was in when I wrote the grad post was post-wedding-euphoria and maybe if I had waited and wrote it now, it would have been totally different.

            anyway loved your point here Erin, I agree this site is maturing all the time and becoming more to more people.

          • Erin

            Mmm. Maybe not selective in a secretive way, but selective in a good-storytelling way. Cuz I COULD elaborate every side of my story in my comments, but I’d lose the plot pretty fast. The answer to someone’s question is not likely to be my husband’s anti-gelato campaign, even though it could be the negative fact that balances my otherwise-balloons-and-puppies story.

            But basically I agree with what you said :) Especially about the remembering that what we read is just part of the whole.

          • http://christytylerphotography.blogspot.com Christy

            oh. my. goodness erin. You crack me up! Because my husband and I are one of those gelato eating couples in Chicago with lots of fantastic restaurants around the corner….. BUT then on the flip side of the coin I’m all like, “darn those people in the suburbs and small cities with big houses and more than two closets for storage – that don’t have to walk down 3 flights of stairs to take their dog out to poop and then have to pick it up and walk all the way down the street to a trash bin! and people who have grills & outdoor space to enjoy! gah! this city drives me crazy and now they’re raising our rent for this same POS apartment?! …. and a parking ticket, again?!”

            haha… I think we portray positive things online sometimes because it helps us to stay positive when really there are obviously lots-o-negative aspects as well we are trying distract ourselves from. There are always two sides to the same situation! :) I don’t believe that anyone is 100% happy about every single aspect of their life… right? I hope not anyway – or I’ll feel like crap! lol. jk. (kind of…)

        • EA

          but i agree with mel. that wasn’t the intent of the posters. and meg, i don’t think that this website has just one set of views. i mean, i’ve been reading here for months and that would be silly to suggest. there is that mosaic of truth here, certainly.

          the point i was trying to make was just that those words and photos of the joyous wedding moments can provide an unexpected jolt and kick off some anxiety. and it’s not to say that those people had this nirvana like experience of joy, but it’s what I project onto that. and [illogically] compare against.

          and i’m aware it’s my illogical projections so i do step back when this hits. put the brain on No Wedding Thoughts at ALL mode. and then i have a beer and watch the jersey shore and relax until i can peek back on here and see that Good God of the Internet, here is a post that i needed.

        • Willow

          A) Your truth is your truth and having a place to speak your truth is rad.

          Yes! Love this post, love this statement, love APW.

  • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

    i don’t have any anxiety disorders. so i may be coming from a different perspective- definitely not one of disagreement. but one of… wanting to be sure there is balance.

    because i’m what some would call “analytucal” or “introspective.” i don’t know that i would say i worry about things… but i’m pregnant. and sometimes i wonder how life will change when a baby comes and if it will be better. i’m married. sometimes i wonder if josh will someday cheat on me and what we will do to bounce back. i think about things. which i realize is different than becoming overwhelmingly anxious over them. but sometimes the one leads to the other, doesn’t it?

    but.

    the 110% faith thing sits awkwardly with me. i want to be sure i understand the intended meaning, and maybe i dont.

    faith is only valuable if it’s in the correct basis. i don’t have faith that “love will find a way” or “conquer all” or “carry us through.” i’ve put faith in some crappy men at times. and in myself, for crappy reasons. i had faith that although he hit me and called me a c*nt, if i should loved him it would be enough.

    my faith with josh is very differently placed. i have faith in what i know about him- in the tangible ways in which he expresses his love (not in giving me roses, maybe, but in letting me take the first shower so i get the hotter water).

    faith must always be rooted in logic or fact or tangibility or results. and these things are never certain. but it does serve as a much more solid foundation. it’s not logical or sensible to have faith that things will work with the afforementioned abusive boyfriend. it is logical for me to look at what i’ve been through with josh, and then place faith in the fact that he and i will be able to continue to love, grow, change, work together to build something worthwhile. i’m certain of it only because of my faith.

    and by certain, i don’t mean doubt-free. but when those doubts come up, i can squelch them succinctly. with my faith. and that gives me certainty.

    what i really loved about this post was the continued self-awareness. she compared herself to other brides, but was fully aware that her thought process and decision making skills and doubting would be different. and it is for each of us, disorders or no.

    • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

      typos abound.

      did i mention i’m caffeine-free lately?

    • http://bondingcarbonunits.wordpress.com/ Sarah K.

      The faith that I rely on is really tricky. It’s faith in him, faith in myself, faith in us. But as you said, that can be so damn tricky, when you have misplaced it somehow and are turned around. But I have faith in our self-awareness, faith in my courage to question and to grow, faith in our friendship and our strength together.

      The faith isn’t just faith, to me– it’s where other people describe certainty, something that is terrifying to me, I describe Hope and Faith. I have 110% Courage, Gumption, Determination. I can’t have certainty because of who I am, but in its place I put Faith in myself and Faith in him, and in us. It’s a feeling and strength that is a little squishy to describe, but it gives me the courage to go through with a marriage when my anxiety does so much to undermine it.

      And you describe it really well: faith in the fact that he and i will be able to continue to love, grow, change, work together to build something worthwhile. Your faith gives you certainty. To me, faith gives me…. faith. And that’s enough. <3

      • Eliza

        “I have 110% Courage, Gumption, Determination.” = HELL yes. This is what having relationship faith means to me, too. The hoping, believing part, in *combination* with the “yes, I will work my ASS off for this relationship, because it’s worth it”, part. Both, at once.

    • http://bravebride.blogspot.com/ Kim NYC

      “i have faith in what i know about him- in the tangible ways in which he expresses his love…and by certain, i don’t mean doubt-free. but when those doubts come up, i can squelch them succinctly. with my faith. and that gives me certainty.” ~ You

      This is what I took our anonymous contributor to mean by faith, although maybe I’m just projecting.

      Also, just a note on what faith means to people with high anxiety (like yours truly – Hello, cold feet!). It’s not blind faith. It’s the exhausting task of comparing reality to your own chaotic interpretation of reality. It’s faith in the process of self-awareness and the commitment to growth. So I actually think that Sarah up above and the writer of this post are on your same wavelength here.

    • Nina

      A thousand times “exactly” to everything you all said about faith. It’s not blind faith at all. It’s faith earned over years of learning to trust one another, learning that your relationship is a solid foundation you can depend on, realizing that you will always have something else to worry about but they will always be there to support you – those things might build certainty in others but in me, they lay the foundation for faith: the knowledge of our experiences and the belief in our “courage, gumption and determination.”
      Certainty is not worth as much in an anxious mind as faith. Anxiety trumps certainty, because it makes you doubt everything, most especially your own feelings, and certainty is really just a feeling. But faith doesn’t require you to rely on your own feelings quite as much, faith allows for wiggle room where you realize that day-to-day, moment-to-moment your feelings will change. It reminds you to lean on your experience as a reminder that it’s going to be ok.

    • Kris

      For me 110% faith also means cultivating a sense of “not knowing.” And being okay with “not knowing.” I will *never* have all the answers, I cannot control what happens in the future AND I still want to jump off into the great mysterious unknown with this person. I think it also means feeling confident that whatever happens we can handle it – together and individually. Letting go and giving into the question mark of it all is one of the toughest things for us overthinker/anxiety-prone/controlling/perfectionist types (know I just lumped a whole range of folks in there but think most of us are under the same umbrella). So no, I don’t it’s not about magical thinking or blind faith per se, but realizing that for some of us “knowing” is well…hard to wrap our brains around! Faith gives me a much better framework for understanding things and putting them into perspective.

      • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

        kim, kris, nina, sarah… totally totally.

        i guess i hear “faith” and immediately get this panicky fear that some poor soul out there is going to equate that with just sort of shrugging and hoping things work out. what you guys describe is just what i think it needs to be- and probably what the post-er intended, too.

        internet semantics.

    • Alis

      Congrats on the baby-on-the-way!

      • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

        thank you!! :)

    • FK

      Wow, this is so interesting. It just goes to show you how there is no formula or magic rules for humans and love.

  • Therese T.

    THANK YOU for this post. I must confess my boy and I got married, and we are happy, but I still have my uncertainties and anxieties and worries. This post SPOKE to me in all sorts of levels. He is so certain of me, too, and I fear if that will go away so I ask him often and try to cheer him up on a daily basis. Then of course I get stressed and then it’s a downward spiral, which leads to the negative cycle of me wondering what he sees in me, anyway. But he sees something, which the song encapsulates (and which I had to download, so thank you for adding to my musical/pop cultural knowledge!), and everyone says I am lucky to have him. So yeah. PERFECT post. Thank you.

    On a note for you- the fact that you are writing about this makes me believe that you do care. If you didn’t, this post would never have come into being. So believe in the both of you, take his hand as he takes yours in your life-journey together; it won’t always be smooth sailing, but keep that hand open, and you’ll be ok. :) I wish you both all the best.

  • http://bondingcarbonunits.wordpress.com/ Sarah K.

    I could have written every word of this. EVERY WORD. And I’m crying at my desk. Thank you, anonymous writer, THANK YOU.

    I’ve been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, too (with a side-order of mild depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder, hooray!), and my brain works just like yours. I’m HORRIBLE at making decisions. I’ve been dating my fiancé since high school, which makes me wonder if I’ve been dating him for so long simply to avoid making a choice about our relationship (unnerving, huh?).

    Your quote from your therapist is when I started tearing up. “YOU will never ‘know.’ Not with this man or another. You’ll have to choose whether this person is the one with whom you want to face the challenge of anxiety.” God, YES. Stand on top of my desk and scream to the rooftops, YES , YES, YES! And that’s what we live with, every day— a choice. We choose our lives, choose our paths, choose our partners. It’s hard, living with this kind of anxiety, but we do the best we can do, every day.

    I’ve moved past calling my fiancé a “saint”; we now crack jokes that he’s an angel. That somehow, out there, God was watching, saw what I needed, and she sent him to me. We literally crack jokes about it, both of us laughing, but some part of me whispers, “Yes. My guardian angel.” He lifts me up, supports me, holds me when I cry, and helps me be the strongest person I can be. It was high school when he helped me first go to a therapist for my struggle with anxiety, and he’s helped me ever since. Even in my darkest moments of fear and worry about our relationship, there is part of me that knows I would not be the person I am today without him. I love the way you put it: “…his radiance still makes my heart fluttery, and sleeping next to him is the truest sanctuary I’ve found.”

    And in that sanctuary, I find courage, and strength, and hope. When we are together, I give myself over to the power of Us, and my heart swells with 110% Faith.

    Thanks, Meg, for sharing this with us, and thank you, Anonymous, for being brave enough to write this. *love*

  • http://planbhouse.blogspot.com/ bria leeann

    beautiful….

  • L

    Thank you for having the courage to write this. I’ve pondered writing to APW for a year now about my engagement experience–but I’ve hesitated to ask my husband for permission. Because he was the anxious one during our engagement (though I’ve been in those dark places and totally get it). It was a really hard time for me.

    His issues are linked to Seasonal Affective Disorder, so the timeline matters here–we were engaged in late October, just before the time changes. And he was over the moon thrilled, and wanted a wedding as soon as possible. But a month later, as the light faded, he was starting to worry–and soon enough, he was thinking about postponing the wedding and not wanting to make binding reservations and give people checks. I was able to not take this too personally, because m for five years and had watched how hard it was for him to sign even an apartment lease–why should I expect him to find this easy?

    It sounds from the post like this woman’s family and community know about her struggles–I applaud her for that, and imagine that that would have made the engagement period easier for me. The hardest part was not dealing with his doubts, but trying hard to figure out how to communicate with friends and family about what was going on. When it wass three months before the wedding, and my mom was freaking out that he hasn’t booked the musical group yet, I didn’t want to say, “Actually, it’s because he’s not even sure that he wants to marry me, and doesn’t want to put money down on it, and I’d rather just find that every group is booked at this late date and we’ll just use CDs rather than push him any harder on this right now.” It was a bit frightening for me, and the bits of isolation and deception that I felt obliged to engage in made it all the harder.

    And then we hit spring, and the medication I forced him to start taking kicked it (and the two of us will never be able to agree on which of these two made the real difference), and the clouds lifted he was was back to the joyous person who had asked me to marry him (but still not thrilled about the to-do list and the burden of selecting a honeymoon location). Our wedding was joyous and wonderful, and fourteen months in, we are still so glad that we are facing the world together, as one.

    He seemed better this winter than he has for years–perhaps marriage suits him. And no one is more relieved than I am. Because I still have my own dark moments when I am scared that I forced his hand, that I drove us to this point, and didn’t give him a free choice.

    Perhaps I should mention–the only reason he proposed at all was because I finally ended things after five years. If he couldn’t decide to marry me, then parhaps he knew I wasn’t right. This wasn’t a ploy for a ring–I needed to move on with my life, and if he wasn’t sure he wanted to be a part of that life, then I needed to go it alone. That was why I left. And a month later he was back with a ring. So that was hanging over me as well during those dark days of winter.

    Not the beautiful engagement story you want to tell your kids, is it? But we’re human, and we’re imperfect, and it’s how we got here. And we’re glad we’re here. And I guess that’s what really matters.

    • http://www.kelliraepowell.com Krae

      I don’t know. I think it is a beautiful story to tell your kids. Maybe not a Disney story, but beauty and love can both be hard and harried and tough to swallow. I’m from the Midwest, though, so I tend to value things more when a lot of blood, sweat and tears went into them. Disney or not…it’s your love story. You should totally tell your kids.

      For what it’s worth, my parents’ story has some less than gorgeous elements. My Grandma even threatened to wear black to their wedding. Heh heh. I’m glad they told me…and they can laugh about it now, because they’ve been married so long and they love each other so much. Calling a spade a spade can be very beautiful. And also very useful!

      Best wishes to you and your man! (I get married in just over 2 weeks! I was feeling hurt by my fiancee’s brusqueness a couple days ago. It seems, he can only call a spade a spade – even when, maybe he could not call it anything at all to spare feelings. I’m not engaged to this man for his flattery, that’s for sure. Reading and responding to your comment makes me realize that that’s one of things I like best about him. He is artless. And truer than anyone I’ve ever known.)

      • KristieB

        Am I the only one who wishes more people would tell us the nitty-gritty stories and less of the “happiest day of my life” stuff? I mean, you only seem to hear the nitty-gritty when marriages don’t last and never when they do.

        My mother-in-law told her husband (of over 40 years!) when they got married that the best she could promise him was 5 years. He told her that he was there forever and if she couldn’t promise the same that he didn’t think he could go through with it all. Like father, like son.

        • http://www.kelliraepowell.com Krae

          You are not the only one. Nitty gritty is my favorite! But I come from a long line of morbid farm women who are extremely practical and, at the same time, also strangely romantic. Listening to my mom and my grandma visit until two a.m. weekend after weekend at the kitchen table taught me my first lessons about life and love. My mom’s family, poorer than my father’s, always had the most interesting drama. Drugs and jail, etc. Heh heh. Nitty. Gritty. Yet, heartwarming. Ah, sweet contradiction! So, yeah. I guess it’s that juxtaposition that I really love.

        • http://www.iamchesapeake.com Jessica

          “I mean, you only seem to hear the nitty-gritty when marriages don’t last and never when they do.”

          @kristieb – This. This this this. I think it comes from a human need to put people and circumstances into neat boxes. It’s an orderly thing. Kind of like Steve Jobs said about connecting dots-you can’t connect them going forward, you can only connect them looking backward. Like the American Idol thing of the parents saying, “oh, she sang all the time as a baby, so it’s no surprise she’s a singer now!” Yeah, so did I. And I’m not a singer now, by any standard. So when people say things like, “Oh, we should have known the marriage wouldn’t last, his mother was crying tears of sorrow on their wedding day, it was a sign”-this is along the same line of incorrect thinking. Guess what? My parents just celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary, and they’ve had their challenges, but they are as happily together as a couple can be, and his mother cried like she was at a damn *funeral* on their wedding day. Correlation, not causation, folks.

          Also, this post describes my life. For all of us out there with anxiety disorders, I give the author the world’s largest and most sincere “Thank you.”

  • KristieB

    Beautiful. Honest. And, I understand where you are coming from.

    This post rings so true for me right now. My family has a long list of mental illness in it and I’ve been thinking that I might really need some therapy. That everything happening to me right now is not normal and just stress.

    There is the me that goes to work, is polite and says things like “I am soooo effing happy to be married.” That is the me that everyone else sees everyday. Than there is the me who for the months leading up to the wedding and the months after has been a puddle of tears, curled up on the bathroom floor wondering if she has made the very worst decision of her life (because she is the world’s worst decision maker) and if everything that comes out of her mouth is all lies.

    • Vmed

      Therapy is awesome.

      It can especially help those of us who are competing for the “world’s worst decision maker” title.

      Really, therapy is good, and probably everyone could benefit from it at some point. I wish it had less of a stigma, because we don’t expect people to just fix issues in other major organs by themselves, why should the brain be different?

      • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

        FOR SERIOUS.

      • KristieB

        Oh, I’ve been on and off in therapy my whole life. I would say 80% of the time I handle things quite well on my own.

        But, I’m not on my own anymore. Someone seriously needs to slap that into me. Like the anonymous poster – I have the world’s most supportive and loving partner.

        • http://www.kelliraepowell.com Krae

          I just wanted to join the “Therapy Rules!” parade. Also, getting married is a really big deal. Why not have a disinterested and qualified third party counsel you (and your finance, too!) through it? That can’t hurt.

          Personally, I’m not often down with institutional religion, but that whole pre-marriage counseling tradition is, I think, the best idea ever.

  • Sara

    “My criticisms of him are a mere fraction of my self-criticism.”

    This part stood out to me as I am a perfectionist. I never really thought about this in the perspective of anxiety, but I think this was definitely going on with me as I planned my wedding last year. I had always thought of myself as a decisive person, but in the past few years I’ve realized that I just can’t make a decision sometimes. I was living across the country from where the wedding was to be held with no wedding planner to help, and both of us were in school. I had so much inspiration, but very little time and practicality for what was possible. Thus, when I look back at our wedding, I still have indecision about the stupid things I obsessed about. It was a fantastic wedding, but I wish I could truly let it go or at the very least not feel stressed/embarrassed for things not matching my internal picture.

    Both of our families have anxiety and we know that we both have it on some level. It might be time for me to explore this a bit more. Thank you for your generous post and opening my eyes to this a bit more!

  • peanut

    I’ve got some anxiety stuff of my own (and the wonderful IBS that comes with it!), and it is definitely a challenge to deal with it at times when you’re “supposed to be blissfully happy!” Um, hi, I am dedicating the rest of my life to someone, while planning a wedding, while dealing with the stresses of the family drama surrounding the wedding, while maintaining my regular life – whoever can remain blissfully happy during this time is nuts.

    Thanks for sharing with us.

  • Kris

    Okay, so I’ve been lurking on here for months but *this* is the post that finally made me want to reply. Sorry if this gets long but thank you so much for your brave honesty and openness! It’s funny, I never would have described myself as someone with anxiety issues but I definitely have some of the symptoms. I’m an overthinker who worries too much and gets stuck in my head. My therapist calls it being too “cognitive.” When I start sliding down into that paralysis by analysis wormhole I’m reminded of something that she once said: that I’m “asking questions that can’t be answered.” Questions like is my guy the “one,” what will our future look like, should we get married, are we doomed?!?!

    Those questions are just too big for my brain. Because there is NO logical answer that will ever be enough to satisfy me and my overactive noggin. All I have to go on is my LIVED EXPERIENCE. I think that’s what the 110% faith is about. Faith in what your heart knows to be true and what your body and senses have actually felt – because for us anxious overthinker types, our brain is constantly trying to fake us out and make us question ourselves and our decisions so our thoughts will never be enough to rely on.

    It feels weirdly liberating to finally come out about the ambivalence and anxiety I’ve had around my relationship. I spent a lot of time over the years freaking out and worrying that something was wrong with me (and us) just because I ever had any doubts at all. Like I was the world’s worst partner because I was still seeking some kind of certainty and duh…aren’t you supposed to just “know” by now?!?! The thing is I’ve felt loved, happy, supported, and often unspeakable overwhelming bliss with my boo, but was there something else that was supposed to have “clicked” for me by now?

    But then a funny thing happened recently as we started to prepare for a move together…I finally realized that all that time I’d had those tiny bubbling worries in the back of my head, a loving relationship had been unfolding all along. A loving relationship with trust, communication, desire, laughter, commitment, deep emotional intimacy and a whole lot of hard work. It was there and growing the whole time, just submerged under a lot of fear and some old behaviors that didn’t serve either of us anymore. What’s the saying? Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans? Well, for us it’s like a loving relationship is what happens when you’re busy being anxious about your relationship.

    Now I realize that admitting I’ve been scared in the past, had complicated feelings, had anxiety and ambivalence doesn’t make me a failure. It makes me human. A particularly overthinky anxious human, but a human nonetheless. Now I also have the tools to be able to have those thoughts and feelings and know I get to choose what to with them (another bon mot I picked up, this time from my meditation group cuz omg meditation totally helps quiet my overactive mind: “you don’t have to believe everything you think”). I think learning to move out of my head and into my heart is an ongoing journey I’ll probably be on forever. But now I’m actually confident about having my partner at my side during that process even if my brain can’t come up with a logical explanation for any of it.

    • Nina

      “I finally realized that all that time I’d had those tiny bubbling worries in the back of my head, a loving relationship had been unfolding all along.”

      Your story rings so incredibly true for me. I too spent so many years worrying, all the while I was in a beautiful relationship and couldn’t exactly understand why I was worrying. Everyone talks about “intuition” and you’re just supposed to “know when it’s right” – well I didn’t know so it must be wrong. But eventually the worries just ran out of steam, squashed by the overwhelming evidence that this is a wonderful relationship. The doubts (for the most part, like said above, we anxious people should strive for 80-100%) were gone and left behind was a wonderful relationship and my faith.

      • Anna

        You say you spent years worrying; mind if I ask how many? I am in a similar boat, but sometimes feel like those worries have gone on so long, that they must be “true.” How long for you before they were squashed, and what do you think triggered it?

    • ka

      “you don’t have to believe everything you think”

      i LOVE this.

    • CK

      Wonderful posts from both the writer and Kris! I definitely found myself relating to the questions of anxiety surrounding marriage/partnership (anything which places us teetering on the precipice of the Traditional Domestic Life, whatever that might entail), even though I haven’t been diagnosed with a disorder.

      Actually, I think many of the points the writer raises are incredibly normal, especially for someone who is prepared to honestly and critically engage with a decision as complex as marriage. Personally, I’m trying to learn not to beat myself up for “over-thinking” or “over-analyzing”; because I don’t think it’s a problem of excess or neuroses. I think it’s a process that anyone who really wants to think about what partnership will mean for them will enter into, even though at the end of it we’ll still come up with a number of unknowns. Maybe what we think of as “worrying” is actually just being realistic. I remember talking about marriage and anxiety with my Mom, who had a whirlwind engagement with my Dad (a proposal after three weeks!), but they’ve been happily married for more than 30 years. I asked her if, when she got engaged, did she ever think there was a possibility it might not work out? Her response was “Oh, of course!” And I knew that it wasn’t because of my Dad, or any doubts about him as a person, but because we can never be certain about what life will do to us or how it will change us.

      That’s what I love so much about the honesty in this post — because I feel like when a lot of married/engaged women say “Oh, I just knew, 100%” it’s not even the marriage they’re proclaiming total certainty about, it’s life in general (because how can the two be separate?). Maybe that’s one aspect of the whole wedding circus industry that makes “overthinky” (or just really smart) women so uncomfortable: it often puts us in a position where we declare total certainty over the rest of our lives (down to the last table place setting) — and who wouldn’t be anxious about doing something as impossible as that? Kudos to this post for letting us keep thinking our way out of and into tough questions!

  • K

    I also manage anxiety and depression that goes from dormant to mild/moderate depending. I just wanted to say that 110% faith is my new life mantra. For everything. From major decisions down to deciding which head of lettuce to buy at the store.

    Thank you for sharing this highly personal aspect of your life! It’s a very calming message.

  • http://hitchdied.wordpress.com HitchDied

    Thank you so much for this post. I’m another anxiety sufferer and you really crystallized how that comes into play when getting married. Also, that Velvet Underground song has long been one of my favorites. My fiance knows that I love it and think it is the most romantic song ever, so sometimes when I’m having a bad spell he’ll try to sing it to me. But he doesn’t remember any of the words, so he sings something like, “I’m your mirror person/you are awesome and you can tell because I am awesome too/Mirror people!/I love you!”

    • amandover

      That is too cute.

    • Nina

      Just have to say – he is seriously awesome.

    • Cat

      That is the cutest and most awesome thing I have heard! Your fiance is incredible.

    • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

      LOVE this.

    • http://livinglnf.blogspot.com Jo

      Jumping on the bandwagon to say Oh My Goodness that is soo adorable!!! Yay for singing partners who care!

    • http://saveitforyourdiary.wordpress.com/ willow

      This is too sweet! And it’s making me giggle because I’m imagining some kind of ‘jazz hands’ flourish as he sings ‘Mirror People!’

  • Melaniedk

    Thanks to the author for so eloquently writing on this matter, as it has been something that I, a not very anxious person has been bothered about while going through all the wedding blogs and literature. Wedding-wise, every other real wedding post or story has the bride talking about the perfection and certainty of their love, and how they knew from day one that it was forever. After a while, it is difficult not to wonder if something was wrong with me or with my relationship that I didn’t have the same experience, even if I am in love and want to marry the man that I am in love with. But then, I have to think of where I am coming from. I have parents that have been married for over 35 years, and I can say, FOR CERTAIN, that while their love was consistently steady, it wasn’t always certain, and it certainly wasn’t perfect. However, their commitment to each other was never in doubt, even on some pretty dark days. I love my fiance. We have started our life together and our wedding is the declaration of our commitment to that life, but my psychic abilities have never kicked in to let me KNOW that everything will be all roses, or there is no better decision that I could possibly make. I fervently BELIEVE that marrying this man is the greatest thing I could do for my happiness. I fervently BELIEVE we are going to have some kick-ass kids. Most importantly, I fervently BELIEVE we have the love and fortitude to stick it out. I often tell him that we are “in it to win it”, and I believe that will hold true, even on the days when the romance is runs thin. So, when I read the “110% FAITH” on the post today, I let out a huge sigh of relief. Once again, APW to the rescue to make me feel decidedly less crazy that I am not creating just a rosy picture of my future marriage. It even makes me a little glad that I don’t do that. For me, I feel that sugar coating this serious commitment is doing a big disrespect to the complexity of marriage, of my partner, of myself, and of life.

    Again, thank you for sharing, and thanks to all the thoughtful brides who come to APW with more than “happily ever after” and a fairy tale princess wedding day on their minds.

    • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com Basketcase

      “FOR CERTAIN, that while their love was consistently steady, it wasn’t always certain, and it certainly wasn’t perfect”
      THIS.

  • http://www.icookwithwine.com Melinda

    What an incredibly honest, poignant post. I, too, experienced some serious eye-welling. Dear anonymous, thank you for writing this. I believe it is something we all experience to some degree (at least the projection of our own uncertainties onto those we love) and it’s good to be reminded of the rewards for sticking through it. Love.

  • Nina

    This post and all the comments following it have reached so deep into my brain I’m sitting here a little shell shocked. I should really be working but I can’t focus. I think most of what I wanted to say has been said by others above so eloquently that I won’t try to rephrase it. But I will say that when we started to think about what to engrave in our rings one word popped into my head immediately and persistently, and that word was faith. Because that is what allowed me to finally take the step to marry. And I know when my anxiety takes over, faith is what I’ll lean on to get me through. So thank you to the anonymous writer for your incredibly eloquent and beautiful words, and thank you to everyone who commented as well. This honesty and bravery right here is what makes APW what it is.

  • Kelly

    I have never read a post on APW truer to my current state of heart and mind.

    Thank you.

  • Chelsey

    Thanks for posting this. I have a similiar mind and this helped me immensely.

  • april

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you – for sharing. I’m absolutely blubbering all over my keyboard after reading all this and cannot compose myself to say more than thank you. But oh, how this post today has affected me. In a good way, but also in that “OMG – I’m not alone” way.

    Must run for Kleenex now… but thankyousoverymuch for sharing your words and BIG BIG hugs to you.

  • april

    p.s. “not alone” with the anxiety / doubts stuff. I am married, coming up on one year anniversary and lately, life has been throwing one curve ball after another and I’m just worked up and stressed out and freaking out.

  • Cat

    This post had me in tears. Not the little tears that happen when you’re a little sad or a little happy, but the tears that happen when something hits you so hard that you are so overwhelmed with emotion that you can hardly breathe. Thank you so, so much for being so honest, so eloquent, and so brave to share this.

    I, too, have been diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder. The relationship I’m currently in is the longest relationship I’ve had, and the marriage thought has crept into both of our minds more than once. He hasn’t proposed yet, although he expresses a wish to, but that makes me think that he doesn’t really want to be with me. I have those moments where I think “Why is he with me? He could find someone much prettier/saner/funnier/smarter/insert positive adjective here”.

    “But the fact is, before I met my man, I had neither the insight nor the incentive to confront my mind and change my behaviors. The coping mechanisms that had worked (albeit disfunctionally) when I was solo no longer work with and for my companion. I want him to be happy, and miraculously, I finally find it imperative to be happy myself, to strive for it and to learn new ways of thinking and living.”

    This rang true for me so, so very much. A few years ago I went to therapy through my college, but when I switched schools that therapy was no longer free and available to me. My therapist at that time was helping me deal with my coping mechanisms, trying to help me change and confront myself. Now, I have my first session with a new therapist tomorrow, for the reasons you stated.

    This comment is really all over the place, but I really felt like I needed to say something. Thank you again for this post. From my own response and from reading others’ responses, I can see that it’s really hit home for a lot of us.

  • Nightfall

    Amazing. Thank you. Very well said.

  • suzanna

    Thank you! So beautifully put. So many good points. I think, even without an anxiety disorder, many of us can completely relate to these experiences. Thanks to anonymous for sharing. Like Meg said, it helps when you say it out loud!

  • Liz

    I remember at the end of high school, before I had ever had any serious relationship, watching a couple friends get engaged with little evidence that they cared for each other in a way that would last (given, that was my view as an outsider). And I remember saying to another friend, “I’m never going to get married unless I am absolutely positive that this is the person for me and that it is going to work. If I’m not 100% sure, what’s the point?” HAH! Um, yeah. Obviously, I had a lot to learn. Not that I’m married or engaged now, but I’m in a relationship where I am 110% sure I love my partner and he loves me, but the certainty that we would make it in marriage is not completely apparent for me or him. Even the faith is a little patchy, but what remains is that I’m on the fence about our potential marriage (leaning ever so slightly towards marriage’s yard) and laughing at my 17-year-old self’s statement, said with such utter confidence and belief that something as tangled and emotionally charged as making the decision to get married would be so cut and dry.

    That said, I know that many people do have that certainty, but you know what’s funny? Being that certain in my relationship just wouldn’t make sense. It just doesn’t fit with how we are and the fact that we have, I suppose, pulled through the last two years on a lot of faith.

    Just musing here, really. And what all of this comes out to say is, this was an awesome post and such an important issue to discuss, and I think that’s apparent by the response to it! So thanks for your bravery and beautiful writing.

  • ddayporter

    At first I felt sad and ok a little defensive on APW’s behalf that posts/comments have inspired anxiety, but then I realize I’ve felt the same reaction sometimes! Maybe to a lesser extent but still I have to admit sometimes posts or comments have made me freak out a tiny bit about my own life/relationship/etc. And of course I’ve never thought it was the intent of anyone here to make me feel crazy, it’s just the nature of anxiety. I’m so glad it’s been brought more to the surface so we can talk about it, because I was really not even acknowledging this reaction in myself. I know when I have anxiety or self-doubt I feel too crazy to talk to friends or family about it, like they’ll hear that I have doubts and think the whole relationship [or insert thing making me anxious] is doomed, or that I am somehow less. So often I project an image of calm/cool/collected, it’s tough to admit when I’m feeling anxious, because I don’t want to lose my cred you know? pretty silly.

    reading this post and these comments today has been very cathartic. thank you!

    • EA

      dude. yes. what you said.

      today = catharsis.

  • http://thisredheaddd.wordpress.com Rachel

    For me, one of the biggest truths I’ve learned (or re-learned) from this community is that when you speak openly and honestly about what you’re going through, people will be there to support you. Someone will empathize, and others will generally be supportive even when they don’t share that experience.

    How beautiful is it that (assuming Meg hasn’t deleted a ton of posts) most of the responses have been full of support? That’s really what this place is about for me. It’s not about establishing some kind of criteria for relationships, proposals, engagements, weddings, marriages, etc, as if we could all follow a formula and have perfect lives. It’s about finding our way through these things and having a few hands to hold in the process.

    • http://happysighs.blogspot.com Liz

      i don’t think she ever really does delete a lot of comments. :) this place is just generally accepting of differences of opinion and embracing of others experiences. which is ridiculously fabulous.

    • meg

      I have not deleted a single comment, actually.

      Besides, Liz is right, I rarely delate very many (and if I do, it’s because I took down one horrible one, so I had to take down the 20 people who were like, “That’s really not acceptable language here. Please be less judgmental.” People by and large have self selected by now, they know you gotta be kind here, so guess what? Lots of kind people! Yay!

      • Rachel

        Even better! The comments really reflect this community, and it is clearly one of support and encouragement 98% of the time. Meg, I think you’ve done a wonderful job of promoting positive community here.

  • http://www.loveslidefilms.com Kelsi

    A beautiful and deeply relevant post.

    Both my fiance and best friend battle anxiety, sometimes of the crippling variety. My dear friend currently deals with anxiety and PTSD post brain-surgery (she had a massive brain tumor) and has actively sought various treatments to deal with it all. She has had great success with a process called neurofeedback, a treatment I HIGHLY recommend to anyone dealing with major anxiety issues. It is a natural and non-invasive procedure that has re-trained her brain to deal with anxiety-inducing situations.

    My fiance, on the other hand, was dealt a pretty bad hand as a child (abusive household) and shows his scars the most through anxious, indecisive behavior. Like a lot of men, he has disdain for therapy, which is quite unfortunate and frustrating for me. Though we are planning our wedding with great happiness, his anxiety about things like speaking publicly or being in crowds of people are causing some major fights lately. Cold feet are thankfully non-existent, but the problems he has have impeded some of our plans and have made this whole process a bit more difficult. “For better or for worse”, I remind myself, as I love with dearly and have for 8 years.

  • Jessica

    Thank goodness. I feel AMAZING knowing that someone else out there feels like doubt is just a part of how their mind works. Call it anxious, call it over-analytical, call it whatever- I have, as the author explains felt like one of those people who will forever be handicapped by wondering “what if.” “What if I don’t get married and I move to India and live on an ashram instead?” “What if I meet someone else?” “What if I fall out of Love?” “What if the world ends tomorrow?”

    All I can try focus on, all I will ever be able to try to focus on is being happy right here, right now. And I know that right now, right here, and for the past 5 years my fiance has made me happier than I can ever imagine. And hell, what if he continues to make me this happy for the rest of my life?

  • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com Basketcase

    Thanks Meg for deciding to share this.
    Thanks Anon for writing this so wonderfully.

    I think everyone has doubts. Mine are manifesting in a complete lack of excitement (most of the time) at the fact I am marrying this wonderful man in 11 weeks.
    I put this down to other stress cramming my brain (I’m unemployed at the moment), along with my constant worry that perhaps we are only planning to do things like start a family and buy a house because thats whats expected of us, and is what he wants, but is it what I really want??

    But I dont know what I want well enough to detail it and therefore stand up for it, so I am holding on to faith that THIS is the man I want to be with. If he knows what he wants to do with his life and I am still unsure what I want (other than to be with him), then his life plan will do for now.

    But yes, I worry that I will get 10 years down the track and regret making these decisions. I worry I will resent having kids, not moving cities to complete my second degree… (but I re-read Revolutionary Road last week, and realised that resenting things will just make people miserable, and I have to consciously CHOOSE these things, stick to them and make the best of them from here on in)

    Oops. Much longer comment than I planned… :)

  • Fab

    Anonymous, I don’t tend to suffer with anxiety or indecision (and I’m truly grateful). Even though I don’t understand, my empathy made my heart expand today. Thank you.

    On the other side of things, your post was beautifully written. You have such a clear voice.

  • http://bride-sans-tulle.blogspot.com Sharon

    I want to show this post to everyone I’ve ever met who doesn’t understand how anxiety disorder works and how it can flip you upside down even in a gloriously happy time like engagement.

    Dearest Anon, your words have given me so much perspective today. I was occasionally so panic-stricken leading up to the wedding that I would lie awake all night, thoughts racing (yes, me, the woman who wrote that “choosing love” post!)… the wedding was amazing and everything I could’ve hoped for, and the marriage so far has been even better. And yet, here I am, not two weeks later, panicked over the knowledge that we’ve just moved across the country and I’m starting this new grad program and I STILL don’t understand how my fellowship gets disbursed or how my tuition gets waived and oh my God we are going to DIE out in this godforsaken land of no sweet tea. (To my fellow Bay Area people, I don’t really think your city is godforsaken. I’m just very very homesick right now.) Meanwhile, Jason reminds me that even though I *feel* like we’ve just made a giant mistake (in moving, not in marriage), that doesn’t have to be our truth if we don’t make it so. This post reminded me of the same thing.

    Anyhow, what I mean to say is that anxiety is such an insidious thing and it’s about so much more than the events in our lives, and I’m glad that Anon here has a partner who supports and understands her and is not afraid of her anxiety. Because the events come and go, but love like that will ground you and lift you up and hold you in the midst of them.

  • Anna

    Thank you for posting this. It really hit home for me as I am going through a very stressful time and beginning to plan my wedding on top of it. I know that I spend much too much time worrying about how I “should” feel, specifically the excitement I don’t seem to have time to feel over moving in with my fiance and really starting our life together. As women and especially as brides we are fed so much B.S. about the level of joy and excitement we should be experiencing and to not let on that we may be feeling stressed, anxious or sad. That’s why I am so grateful to have found this virtual community that speaks honestly about weddings and marriage, the good and the not so good. Thank you Meg and thank you friend.

  • BEX

    I’m a long-time lurker and today I am posting my first comment to say thank you to Anonymous and Meg for sharing this post. I only wish I’d read it at home so my whole office didn’t have to see me cry at my desk! :) I am a serious perfectionist with a very anxious mind, so this post and many of the comments have really hit home for me. Ever since we got engaged, my anxiety and self-criticism have gotten worse (so much so that I started seeing a therapist). My fiance and I have been together for 11 years and I thought I was ready to be engaged, but I underestimated how emotional this time would be and I wasn’t at all prepared to deal with the BIGNESS of getting married. It makes me feel better to know that I’m not the only one out there going through some of this stuff though. That’s why I love APW so much. This blog has provided me with so much comfort throughout my wedding planning (less than 3 weeks now!) because it has allowed me to see that I’m not alone. Almost every time I’ve ever felt like, “I must be the only bride who has felt this way,” along comes a post on APW to change that belief. I could go on and on, but a lot of the commenters have already said what I would say (and probably more eloquently than I could say it). I do want to end with a quick shout out to all the APW readers in therapy; it seems like there are quite a few of us here, which I think is amazing in a good way.

  • Engyln

    I do not have anxiety issues, in fact I got very lucky when brain chemistry was handed out. But there is still so much in this post that is truth for me, too, that I am all misty-eyed.

    Blame it on a lack of stable relationship role models growing up, or just an inbuilt skepticism, but I spent many years of my relationship with my fiance completely not understanding how anyone could ‘just know’. I didn’t understand how anyone could know that they weren’t going to grow apart, no matter how perfect for each other right now; nor how anyone could be so optimistic about not growing apart that they wanted to marry. Until a wise lady told me, “You can choose to be optimistic”.

    Lightbulbs.

    So my version of 110% faith is, I 110% choose to be optimistic. Very similar thing. Very different from the 110% certain that I was starting to wonder what was wrong with me for never feeling.

  • Magdalena

    I am in the process of being diagnosed with GAD… in fact I have my very first appointment with a psychologist/sleep disorder doctor tomorrow. My primary care doctor feels I a am a classic case, though… the physical problems with no clear cause… the constant tension… the insomnia. It’s the insomnia that is currently destroying me.

    At the beginning of my relationship with my fiance I was in almost full meltdown mode. Because I knew almost from the beginning who he was. And so I entertained myself with what ifs: What if he is struck by a car? What if he gets sick and dies? What if he figures out what an ass I am and drops me like a hot tamale?

    Amazingly in the last year or so my feelings have changed. I no longer freak out about our relationship. I feel so secure with him. Instead I am focused (or, my stupid sickly brain is focused) on my physical symptoms. So when I had terrible headaches I thought about what it would be like to live with a terrible headache… FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. Right now I spend my days panic-stricken that I won’t be able to sleep at night, ever again. And wow, usually I can’t!

    Ironically, this experience is what has made me so sure about him. Because no matter how many times I have to tell him that I’ve gotten quiet because I’m worrying about fatal familial insomnia or ALS or cancer, he holds my hand and comforts me. I told him I was sorry for being the needy one in the relationship and he looked me in the eye and said, “No, I’m needy. I need you.”

    • Elizabeth

      Wow! I can totally relate to everything you’ve just said, though I’ve been diagnosed with GAD for well over 5 years now. The physical symptoms…the silent panicking about swine flu or brain tumors or WHATEVER… and for a while, and even now to a much lesser extent, I always worried about my fiance dying in some freak accident. I would even tail him around to the hardware store multiple times a week while he was building a desk for our office, because I was afraid he’d get into a car crash on the way, and if so, I’d rather be there and get into a car accident, too.

      So, I get it. And I think you are so very fortunate to have a man who understands that this way of thinking is something far beyond your control. For me? We’re still getting there. It’s a lot of work and there’s some fighting and frustration and embarassing nagging… but it’s good and hopeful to know that there are people out there who learn to understand it.

      Thanks.

  • alicepub

    I’m not usually a very nervous or high strung person. However, planning for months on end for one big day is a lot of pressure. My mind was constantly racing. I second guessed many decisions I made. I obsessed over outlandish things like if I would faint or vomit while walking down the aisle. Two weeks before the wedding, I couldn’t sleep most nights. I would wake up with my heart racing.

  • Anon from the post above

    Wow! Thank you so much, everyone, for your kind and openhearted comments. What an amazingly supportive forum APW is! I want to respond more thoroughly, but I’m so overcome with gratitude that my usually-noisy brain can’t think at all. Your affirmations have nourished me deep deep deeply. Good night, lovely people!

  • Class of 1980

    I think the nature of life itself creates anxiety. You can feel certain of marrying a certain person based on tangible reasons. Yet, the future itself isn’t tangible.

    The challenge of life is to know what things we have control over, and what things we’ll NEVER have control over. We feel that if we can anticipate all the stuff that can go wrong, we’ll somehow come up with a plan to deflect tragedies away from us. Instead, all that anticipation wears us down.

    I wonder if perhaps we should give ourselves a time limit to devote to anticipating and planning for the worst? Then we can go back to living in the present, which tends to make us a lot happier.

    • meg

      Mmmm. Indeed. Or feeling like if we expect the best we’ll jinx ourselves, so instead we should plan for the worst. It’s important for me to take as many moments as I can to remember, “Oh yeah, I’m here right now.” and “Oh yeah, I’m not in charge.” The second one is perhaps the most helpful for type A me. No matter how much I plan, I can’t control the future, so I should knock it off.

      • Class of 1980

        I think there is a sweet spot in dealing with life. We should implement all available and practical precautions against the worst happening in life. But once those precautions are in place, we really need to let it go.

  • Class of 1980

    I’ve always been overly analytical. Always concerned with making the smart decision. Research everything to death. I will always be this way, but I’m learning to know when it’s time to make a decision and be at peace with it.

    Tomorrow I turn 52. More and more, I relate to what Bugs Bunny said: “Don’t take life so seriously, you’re not getting out of it alive.”

    Getting older seems to involve feelings of liberation for longer periods of time. Or is it just more and more thoughts of “I don’t give a damn.” ;)

    Either way, it’s a blissful facet of getting older. See what you have to look forward to?

    • Alyssa

      Happy Birthday!

      Mine was on the 3rd. We Leos are awesome, yes? :-)

      • Class of 1980

        This year, I’ve been saying – “My birthday has been canceled due to lack of interest.” I can’t be bothered with it.

        Maybe I am such an awesome Leo that one day can’t contain all my awesomeness. LOL

    • ddayporter

      happy birthday both of you!

      Alyssa, you now share a birthday with my little brand new baby niece! :)

  • Angela

    I believe that have second thoughts about who you are, your decisions, and everything around you it´´s a natural way to ME to reaffirm what i want and what i have in any moment in my life.
    That said, i sometimes wonder if i rethinks to much some situations, or don´´t, most of times only to be sure i choose the correct way for ME.
    It´´s some kind of check list that subconsciously i bring to front at times, only to check if i need to make differents arragements in my life. And it´´s OK for me. it´´s like a back up for your decisions.

  • http://irisira.wordpress.com irisira

    which basically means that 95% of the time I’m the most together and efficient ball of energy you know, and then it all gets overwhelming and oh shhhhhhiiiiiiittttttt is that the world collapsing? Then? FINE again. Meg, you sound like me. I’m a Type-A Overachiever with anxiety issues, and I’ve found, for me, if I’m not in Type -A Overachiever Mode, I get depressed. I would rather be mildly anxious and stressed out than very depressed, so there you go.

    Anxiety and depression run in my family. It seems that most of my grandmother’s children and grandchildren have it in some capacity, some of us worse than others. In fact, a lot of the guys have it worse than the women, believe it or not (and it is apparently more common in women). I don’t need to be on medication for it, and I haven’t been “formally” diagnosed, but I know it gets worse with age, and I know what to look for in my own behavior to keep myself “in check.” For example – keeping myself in Type-A Overachiever Mode, but knowing how and when to shut off and unplug in order to recharge myself.

    My FH, on the other hand, has full-blown GAD and depression. He was diagnosed about 2 years ago. I think he’s always had it, but he had a “break” when he got a bat in his apartment AND got bit by a deer tick in the course of a week (we live in Northeastern NY – both are a common occurrence!). He snapped, and perhaps it’s a good thing, because now he could get better. For months I held his hand as he crashed and burned with different medications. I knew what this was, and I understood what he was going through, and I knew but for the grace of [insert deity here] it could be me going through the same thing. It was once he started to get better that HE was certain of ME. And, also, I of him. I thought, if we could go to hell and back and come out far stronger than we went in, then he was it.

    To the poster – it sounds like that’s what your FH is for you. :)

    • meg

      It might make you feel better to know that mine has gotten better (much much much much) better with age. Every year I learn how the handle it better, and every year it improves. So, that can happen too.

      • Morgan

        Mine too. I was barely functional as a human being at 19, and at now at 28 haven’t had a serious panic attack in 6 months. The older I get, the better I get at managing things.

        • http://irisira.wordpress.com irisira

          This is how it’s been for me as well; I’m going by what I’ve seen with the women in my family. I think it helps to know what my triggers are, and how to either avoid them or, if I can’t, work through them (I AM better at that than I was, say, 10 years ago), but I have witnessed those I care about unravel more as they get older … not sure why that is.

  • Elizabeth

    Dear Anon. Poster,

    As Meg said, you are brave indeed to articulate all of this so eloquently and fully. I just want to echo what a few other folks here have said also, having married someone w/ chronic anxiety (which played a major role in delaying his ability to propose/decide etc… and made for some brutally honest and difficult conversations), you soundplenty certain about your Fiance (who sounds great) and more importantly, I think you are giving him a huge and important gift in your self-awareness.* The fact that you can articulate your struggles, own the part of them that you need to and work to separate legitimate concerns and gripes from the own unique challenges imposed by your thinking, and allow him the opportunity to talk about the impact on him, bodes so incredibly well for you and your relationship. I think he is as lucky to have you as you are to have him.

    *My apologies for the Faulkerian run-ons!

  • Melly

    I am also a long-time reader and first-time commenter. Let me start by saying THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart, to Meg and the author of this beautifully written, raw, honest, HUMAN post.

    I have never been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, nor have I ever (up until this point) been an anxious person. But as an engineer, I am trained to be an analytical thinker, and I’m pretty sure that is what got me to the state I’m currently in. My boyfriend and I have talked about marriage and looked forward to marriage pretty much from the very beginning of our relationship. We just knew it would happen and we were so excited for it. I even started planning out wedding details in my mind, and looking for a proposal around every corner.

    Then I had a break down. It was like a switch had been thrown, and suddenly I was SO uncertain and confused and SCARED about getting married. I couldn’t sleep for days, it was constantly on my mind while at work, while cooking, while showering. It ruled my life and I couldn’t escape those anxious thoughts. I had to tell my boyfriend about it, even though I knew it would make him sad that I was having doubts. I had to tell him to postpone our engagement until I “figured things out.” He was incredibly sweet and understanding, and told me he’d wait as long as necessary. He assured me of his certainty.

    Fast forward to almost 2 months later– guess what, I STILL haven’t “figured things out.” But I am now pretty sure that this feeling will never go away, and that I really do have to step out in faith to marry this guy. I don’t know if he’s the perfect guy for me, I don’t know if we were meant to be together, I don’t know if our marriage will be what I’ve always wanted. But I’m going to see him tonight and tell him that I’m ready. I’m ready to look beyond these fears and doubts, and I CHOOSE to marry him despite these uncertain feelings.

    While this summer has been extremely tough and emotionally taxing, I am glad that I’ve experienced it, because I’ve learned so much about myself, and about true, imperfect, human love. So thank you, APW and all you commenters out there — you’ve helped a sister out! :)

  • ange

    I was so moved by this post, and the comments that have followed, but might I very gently suggest to those struggling with anxiety that maybe someday knowing “110% certainty” and having the peace that you long for are not out of the question?

    For years, I struggled with severe anxiety, panic attacks and clinical depression, and many a therapist told me that I could manage these things, but never be cured. But guess what? I cured myself. It took years, a ton of work, a lot of meditation and discipline, but anxiety is not a part of my life anymore. Mild worry pops up now and then, but it never sticks around.

    Indecision used to gnaw at my brain until I would break down in sobs and claw at my skin in the effort to make it just STOP, but I’ve taught myself a new way (with some compassionate and blessed help along the way). And, though I never thought it possible, I know 110% certainty about many, many things.

    I’ve hesitated to post because in NO WAY do I want to judge another person’s truths or the path of coping that she has found. But if I’d been reading through these comments ten years ago, struggling and worrying and feeling trapped by my diagnosis, I would have really loved to have heard someone say “I’m cured. It’s not too good to be true. It happens. Maybe it can happen for you?” So I’m saying it now.

    In the meantime, though, of course we all have to keep living. And moving forward with 110% faith is the perfect cure for that.

    • E

      How did you get better from your anxiety???

  • Whitney

    I read A Practical Wedding religiously, but never commented before now. But this touched me deeply.

    Thank you for this. Some parts sound like they were plucked out of my own brain. wholly formed. Other parts make me go, “Really? That sounds very familiar, and makes me wanna go see a psychologist.”

    Either way, I will return to this post a lot in the six weeks before my wedding.

  • Katie

    I’m going to re-read and re-read this post. Because.. that’s something women with Anxiety do and need to do. Thank you for sharing this and for being able to put it all so eloquently and authentically.

    This year is one I’ve designated for self improvements. Behavioral therapy, acupuncture, yoga and raw foods. Spiritual and career exploration. I’ve acknowledged that my anxiety has kept me pushing people away and forcing people “to just leave” or else leaving myself. It’s far from what I want, so like you, I’m getting tough and taking things slow, remaining present.

    My dearest friend and recent wedding graduate just met the man I’ve started to date (after a failed engagement that ended with 2009.) She told me after meeting him, “If you start to get weird, you call me. I want to see this one around for a long time.”

    It’s wonderful to come out to people as the frantic “mess” of push and pull factors you truly feel sometimes. It’s all the more wonderful when they stay, get tough of you and promise to continue towork with you on the challenge of anxiety. Please keep us posted! With love, empathy and encouragement – Katie.

  • http://faithintruth.wordpress.com faith

    110% FAITH…yes.

  • Anon from the post above

    I wish we were all in the same room right now so I could hug you all. Thank you so much for reading and commenting on my post. It has taken me a couple days to absorb all of this and muster a response. I hope I’m not too late and that some of you will return to this continued conversation.

    To carry on the mirror analogy, we’re all reflecting each other right here. I empathize with all of your struggles, and I am so glad that we’ve had this opportunity to absolve ourselves of this burden. What a relief just to share this! The cyclical nature of the problem—that we’re anxious about our anxious thoughts—can be broken by practicing exactly what we’re doing here: recognizing the anxious thoughts as such and proceeding with life in spite of them. They have an authoritative tone, but our lives don’t need to be ruled by them! It’s so encouraging to hear how you have persevered with vitality, how you have made courageous leaps into the unknown, and how you have worked to change your mental life.

    In your comments, I heard echoes of the same fears: “I don’t know how to love” or “I do/don’t feel/think such-and-such way, so that must mean that I don’t love him.” I thought some version of these countless times, and I finally dispensed with them altogether (a turning point that, I think, emboldened my fiancé to propose marriage). Anxious thoughts do not make me incapable of loving and do not diminish the quality of my love. I have a huge capacity to love and actively do it plenty and gorgeously, thankyouverymuch! And I LOVE this man, in particular. Let’s all give ourselves that much, please. And then we can acknowledge that there’s time and space to grow. We’ll be learning and practicing how to love better for the rest of our lives.

    All the discussion about faith has been really great to read. My reflections on the topic would fill many pages, but I’m going to be as succinct as possible here. The negative connotation of “faith” (i.e., blind participation in something destructive, harmful, false, etc.) is really not FAITH. Faith isn’t blind and doesn’t negate life (e.g., via abuse, oppression, etc.). Faith affirms life, says yes to being—even while looking into the void (the unknown, the non-being)! Sadly, the word has been tarnished by extremists who hurt others in its name. I suspect many of you would cherish an antidote to that yuckiness, and you might like listening to the public radio program “Speaking of Faith” (soon to be renamed “On Being”). It offers diverse perspectives—secular, religious, humanist, scientific, on and on—from shockingly intelligent people who ask the most important questions.

    You have given me a precious gift here, and I will hold you all in my heart on my wedding day (next August—we recently celebrated our negative first wedding anniversary!). Maybe I’ll emerge with a wedding graduate post…but I wouldn’t mention or link back to this anxiety post there (as wedding graduate posts contain pictures and are therefore not anonymous), so you wouldn’t know it’s me. I’ll give you a hint, though, and if you make the connection, please be discreet! Hint: we’re getting married at the same venue Meg and David did.

    Love,
    Anon

  • Theresa

    I cannot tell you how grateful I am for this post. I have so many of the same issues with relationship anxiety, it’s like looking in the mirror. My wedding is just ten weeks away and of course my anxiety’s been spiking. Thank you so, so much for letting me (and all the other commenters who also suffer) know that we are not alone.

  • Marguerite

    Thank you for this post. While I do not have an anxiety disorder, I can relate to many of the things you say. It’s feels so good to know that I am not the only person who rarely feels 110% certain of any decision. Our culture mandates 110% certainty of relationship decisions, and I often feel like there is something wrong with me because I don’t feel this way.

    I have a partner with an anxiety disorder, and three of my closest friends have anxiety disorders as well. I joke about being a magnet for people with mood issues, but I know the reverse is actually true: I am attracted to people to are sensitive, unusual and artistic. I am lucky to have these individuals in my life. I have no doubt that your fiance feels lucky to have you and your unique perspective in his life.

  • michelle

    I have no words except Thank You!!!

    I feel a weight of 10,000 worries has been lifted as I am not the only one who cannot fathom being “110% sure”, however, whole-heartedly have 110% faith that we’ll be okay.

  • http://bunniesnbeagles.blogspot.com Ms. Bunny

    That was the most inspiring post about love I’ve ever read. Took my breath away. Going to be quiet now, and just reflect on what I read.

  • at

    Wow! I cant believe how many other women are going through this…I seriously thought that I was making the biggest mistake because of the “you should just know” people. There hasnt been one thing in my life i’ve just known about so I guess it only makes sense that potentially the biggest decision of my life wouldn’t be one. I have so much anxiety about it. BUT I love the closing line, 110% Faith….thats what im holding onto!

    I’ve never posted on any forum before but I just had to get this out. It really does feel good! Thank you everyone for sharing, especially the original post! your vulnerability has calmed down alot of anxious women, including myself. I love it when women can get together and be honest about doubts and fears…it brings such peace to know i’m not alone…

  • Meg

    Wow, amazing post!! I too needed to hear this, thank you thank you thank you! I am not yet engaged but I have had the “what-ifs” with my partner. I have to been working on the “your partner does not have to be your everything” and learning to lean on myself for happiness instead of searching within her to fulfill my needs. I never been 110% on the decisions I have made and I guess that is me, but I still struggle with anxiety over the not-being-110%. Anxiety can ruin things unless you can figure out how to train your brain. Honesty rocks! :)

  • Ashley

    I’m doing some back-reading for the past weeks that I missed, so maybe I missed the bandwagon for this post. Nonetheless…

    There are not enough Exactlys in the world for this post. I, too, have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (which still sounds a bit like a joke to me, even years after diagnosis), and find that it complicates my relationship in ways I don’t always like to admit. When my fears and doubts start to rear their ugly heads, I can’t help but push my fiancée away, sometimes through dwelling on all her “faults” and sometimes through dwelling on my own. I start to think that I’m just not sane enough to deserve this happiness, that I can’t ever adapt to handle the adult challenges of the world, and so why should I drag this patient, practical, and absolutely wonderful woman down with me? It’s so easy for my over-analyzing brain to come up with a laundry list of practical, rational-sounding reasons that I should give in to my anxiety and cut myself away from the person who makes me happiest and feel most at home in the world.

    Add to that all the anxiety that comes with an impending marriage (particularly of the same-sex variety), and I frequently find myself at my wits’ end. How do I know that this is the right decision? How do we deal with family members who don’t recognize our family? How do we recognize our own family in a way that’s true to us? And on and on and on…

    The only thing that has got me through all of this is some advice my therapist gave me several years ago: love (and she was talking about love in the context of marriage specifically) is a decision you make every day. This helps me to feel like I’m not failing on some grand scale when we’ve had a fight (somehow I always find a way to blame myself or draw larger conclusions about these things), or that I’m not worthy of the relationship we’ve built. We have chosen each other TODAY, and so for today, that’s enough. That always allows me to actually start to talk about the things I’m thinking, and once I say them out loud, I can hear that they’re not really rational, and she can tell me that things are going to be okay, that we’re a team. And that’s where the faith comes in.

    Thank you so much for this post.

  • Lizbeth

    Wow. I think I have GAD, too, after reading this. I have felt so many of these anxieties and thoughts and questions. And, to top it off, that’s “our” song, too.

    Not even joking.

  • Caroline

    I discovered APW today and am so thankful that I did. I know that I am coming to this very late, but I couldn’t leave without saying thank you. Engagement is so often portrayed as this blissfully happy time, but my tendency to over-think and over-analyse everything coupled with an inability to make any decisions has meant it’s been a ‘tricky’ 9 months. As so many people have said, when you’re not feeling how you think you “should”, it just causes me to get more worried and anxious. So for now, I am embracing faith – because I do have faith in my wonderful man.

    So, once again, thank you for sharing – I think this has come at exactly the right time.

  • Alexandra

    While I’ve experienced anxiety before, it’s not usually part of my regular life. My love, though, was never a “you just know”, and our decision to marry was a long and thoughtful process. One commenter mentioned being overly cognitive, or something like that. Overthinking has caused me some grief, for sure. ;p
    Thanks, Anon. I did see your follow-up comment here. Best Wishes to you!

  • peekaboo

    I’m going to add my voice to the chorus of others: “This. Exactly.” I know I’m a little late to the party, but I’m SO glad to have found this post. I’ve also dealt with anxiety issues ever since I was a kid, and I really have to say this post saved me. My guy is my rock. He’s been my rock since the moment we met. I’ve never once doubted that we are meant for each other – only my ability to be a “good” partner, whatever that means. Today was a particularly rough day until I read this, and once I got done reading, I just had to cry and cry because I’m not alone in feeling this way, and now I know we’re going to be all right.

    Faith and gumption and stubbornness are all that keep me going some days. I won’t ever have 110% certainty, but I have always had 110% faith that the life we’re building together is exactly what I want and need.

  • Pingback: of tvs and anxieties | monquito

  • Melissa

    I am so glad that I have come across this website and these posts. I have been with my fiance just under a year, and we are getting married in December. I have known him for a few years, though. I suffer from depression and general anxiety disorder. In the last week, I have had so many “fears” about my life. I dont know where they all stem from because I love my fiance so much. He is such a wonderful man, and he always goes out of his way for me. I feel that God sent him to me because he can encourage and support me. Yet, I fear everything about marriage and getting married. I have never been a girlie girl or into the wedding hoopla. So, the wedding planning has been very stressful for me. On top of that, there are so many changes with my job, that I fear losing my job. So, after the first month of getting engaged, everything hit me . . . all at once. I had an anxiety attack at work, and I basically wanted to cancel my wedding. I felt that I couldnt do it, and honestly, I cant find anything to blame on fiance as justification for doing it. I was just scared. But, with from support from my mother, my fiance, and this post, I see that I am not alone. I have always been that ambivalent person who could never make a concrete decision. When I decided to get my first apartment in my early 20s, I had anxiety about leaving my mothers house. When I bought my house three years ago, I felt for months I bought the wrong house. Now, I am 30 . . . and I am scared about everything. I cannot pinpoint what my fears lend itself too . . . except its irrational anxieties that I have. But, this post made me realize I am not alone.

    “Would the wise thing be to postpone marriage until that elusive day of certainty arrives? I will die before then.The best I can hope for is between 80% and 100% certainty on a given day and enough faith to pull me through the other side of the ratio.”

    This quotation made me feel so much better. Even on a BAD day (like today), I try to comfort myself that I can and will be OK. I have faith (110%) that we will be OK and we will make it. Although I am scared of the upcoming months and the decisions that have to be made before my wedding . . . and the decisions that will be made after my wedding as a married woman . . . I have confidence and faith that my husband and I will be OK. I know he loves me (and sometimes I dont understand why!) and my love for him will get us through. I have to have faith . . . and that is something that I can do.

    I know that I need to be back on medication and see a therapist. I felt I was strong enough to live without medication. I have never seen a therapist . . . and I realize I need to get help for myself and for my relationship. I think that I just fear everything . . . and with marriage being a big step, it scares me. But, 110% faith . . . I can do that. I need to live one day at a time, and I choose each day to be with my fiance. That is what I need to focus on. When I have a bad day, like today, it is nice to know that there are people like me out there.

    I would love to know who has gotten married since this post originally was written and how everyone is doing. I thank everyone who wrote for your honesty and your help. This post has been much needed . . . and I am thankful that I found it.

    Read more: http://apracticalwedding.com/2010/08/weddings-marriage-love-anxiety/#ixzz1JVkIVOCy

    Read more: http://apracticalwedding.com/2010/08/weddings-marriage-love-anxiety/#ixzz1JVk7IqN7

    • Anne

      Melissa,
      I wrote my post before reading your comment, but I have to tell you how I can relate to where you are at. I would strongly recommend finding the right therapist for you who does Cognitive Behavior Therapy. I had been seeing a different therapist before who did not use this approach and looking back, I see that she didn’t understand my anxiety. I also had to go back onto medication, a different one and although I eventually would like to be drug free, I realize that I need to take it for now.

      I think we look around at others and idealize them and their lives. Our society puts pressures on us to be perfect in every way and we in turn put that pressure on ourselves. Those of us with GAD put 10 times more pressure on ourselves then others, hence why we have a hard time making decisions, we don’t want to make a mistake! Working with my therapist, I have learned to face uncertain situations, put myself in them and learn to face and overcome the anxiety. And it makes me feel in control again!
      Before postponing your wedding, try seeing a new therapist. Mine has helped me work through my worries and realize that no matter what happens in my life, I will be okay.
      Take Care!

  • Theotherside

    These posts and comments have helped my girlfriend and our relationship immensely, so thank you all for being so brave to the reality that makes all of us so different and great. I’m 32 and my GF is 29 and we’ve dated for over a year now when she came out and told me how unsure she is about, “Everything.” Her remarks were, “She doesn’t get excited when she thinks of our future.”, “She wishes she missed me more”, and “she doesn’t have that ‘I know’ feeling. Obviously, I was devasted, hurt and deeply confused. One of our biggest strengths is communication and openness and after hearing her explanations it only made me more confused b/c most of the issues at hand were about life and not our relationship (although I have 1000’s of flaws I’m sure). I suggested counseling to address her feelings/concerns whether we worked out or not b/c I only wanted her to know these fears are normal. This site helped her realize she wasn’t alone and I’m eternally grateful for that. I now go to counseling with her to help understand each other’s needs more, the balance of life and our relationship. I was overly excited to have finally met this amazing, passionate, independant, loyal, loving, caring and dynamic girl that lives and values life the way I do. My excitement and certainty definately gave her more anxiety and now I know that but that’s my personality too. I can get overly excited if I’m winning in a Monolopy game so put that in perspective when I knew I met someone I felt I can spend my life with :0). This is week 10 after the above comments and we have decided to get back together although we haven’t really seperated through this time. Recently, she mentioned she wasn’t sure if she ever wanted to get married or have children some day and I’m learning to let some comments roll off my back but these are gifts in life I hope and pray I can enjoy some day. I don’t want to put pressure on her and I did say these topics need to be addressed for us to grow. My purpose to this post was to ask how, “The other side” can cope with the person they love doubting, analyzing, and second guessing life’s choices. How can i help her more and how can I help not feeling like she thinks she’s settling for me? I deeply love this girl and am willing to go through the good, bad and ugly together but need to know if/how others got through this?

  • Anne

    I discovered this blog a few weeks ago and I had the same experience as many of the other women who have commented. I have been anxious my entire life but was officially diagnosed with GAD in January. I have had a tough 4-5 years but often downplay what I have been through. My mother battled cancer for 6 years and lost her battle 3 and a half years ago. Losing her devastated all of us, but for my older sister and I, it made us question a lot of things. A year or so after the passing of my mom, I met a great guy, who is now my Fiance. I knew early on I was going to marry him even though it wasn’t love at first sight. I didn’t start experiencing anxiety regarding us until we started talking about getting engaged. I started doubting myself and only focused on the negative in our relationship.However, when he did propose, I said yes without hesitation.

    Him moving in with me shortly after our engagement, and my having minor surgery, caused me to develop mild depression…so many changes in a short period of time and I was off work for three months. Thankfully I have been doing Cognitive Behavior Therapy for 6 months now. For the first time in my life, I understand my worrying and feel “normal” knowing that I am not the only one who has GAD. My sister has had similar experiences so that has helped me.

    As our wedding is 6 months away, I still have moments where I doubt things. For example, when a girlfriend of mine recently told me that she had met someone and she knew he is the one instantly. I remind myself that I am not like them because I have GAD and tend to compare, analyze things to death! My family is still going through a very tough period with my father who is getting remarried. I have realized that my anxiousness and anger due to this uncertainty in my live can cause me to doubt my own relationship. Then I remind myself that my fiance is my best friend and has been amazing throughout the difficult times.

    It is those little ah ha moments that him and I have where I remind myself how lucky I am to have him in my life, that reassure me during other moments where I start doubting things.I hope this blog helps many other people have a ah ha moment and realize that they are not alone!

  • Josephine

    It is probably that no-one will ever read this comment, but just in case they do:

    Thank you. Thank you to the original poster and thank you to Meg for this space and thank you to all the wonderful women in the comments.

    This post quietened my head and made me trust what I have wanted to believe. You cannot *know* that something will work. But I do *know* that my girlfriend is the most wonderful person who makes me so deeply happy every day and I do not want to let go of that. Ever.

    So, I’m going to propose :o)

    • Josephine

      Probable.
      Drat!

    • Rebecca

      How did it go?!?!

      • Josephine

        I just saw this! She said yes!

        Thank you for asking :o)

  • Rebecca

    I am an over thinking anxious person and am planning to get hitched in December. I am so confused as to whether it’s the right thing to do, wondering if I am ignoring my intuition if I go ahead with it. Wondering if I love my Fiance. I am very attached to him, I “love” him more now than I used to. I have never ever “known” if the guy I’m with is the “right” person. My anxiety and obsession gets in the way of the moment. I get more peace when I’m single. I have a beautiful six month old son with my Fiance, he is a great father and I can see us having another child. I have really whipped myself over the last few days (got pms too), obsessing over whether I should marry him if I have doubts. I have googled my problem time and time again (unhealthy I know!!) and people keep saying you need to be “sure” and if you are not in love with your partner then don’t marry him. I dunno, I reckon I would get relief after the wedding day, mistake or not!
    Man I hope I’m not knocked up before the day because I plan to get drunk and have fun!
    That’s a healthy move eh! (I know, it’s not hehe).
    I too feel evil and like I’m lying and pretending to him sometimes… Sometimes I just don’t know what the right answer is… My Al-anon sponsor (I go to Al-anon cause I grew up in an alcoholic home) told me that part of the disease of alcoholism / being a child of an alcoholic / having an anxiety disorder is constantly trying to look for BLACK OR WHITE answers when life is all shades of grey.
    Good luck to all you lovely people and wish me luck! X
    I

  • Bets

    I’ve started coming back and re-reading this post every time the litany of anxious thoughts that everyone’s mentioned starts to re-infiltrate.
    Every time, I cry. And every time, I feel better, and one step closer to being able to set a date without collapsing into myself.
    Thank you.

  • Pingback: On being blue | Open Hearted

  • Sanjana

    I wish I could have stumbled on this blog earlier. I called off my wedding 6 months back, 2 months before the wedding. I get very anxious when I have to make some important decisions of life. I used to feel it is normal human tendency but of late, things got only worse. I would keep thinking about “what-ifs” and that would just lead into some downward spiral of more anxiety and negative thoughts.

    My fiance was my first love and I have been very naive in discussing each detail about my thoughts and doubts with him. Though he was supportive for sometime, I could see that he already got hurt due to my criticism for him (unintentional and a side effect of my anxiety I suppose). Postponement of wedding was not an acceptable option for him and I gave into the pressure and took the toughest decision of calling off the wedding. I did not know what I was going through and I was feeling so ashamed of myself for having so many doubts. If I read this earlier, I would have got some clarity of thought.

    Anyway, he moved on immediately and cut off all contact with me as he was very hurt. He got married last month. My last 6 months have been miserable and everyday has been a challenge to me. I dont know if I did the right thing in calling off the wedding, but at that time, being so anxious and accompanied by panic attacks every single day, thats all I could think of.

    Great post and I absolutely adore your clarity of thought.

  • Magdalene

    I love love love love this post! I know its old but thank you!! Ive been battling this demon, on and off for the past week, since my love proposed. I am at a point where I am able to somewhat differentiate between what is real and what is my mind freaking out, but sometimes, like today, though I know its not real, its so so so hard not to be afraid. There is the 1000% sure of how much I love the man and how much he loves me, how it will be ok….and then, the dark shadow comes up, mocking me, making me feel like Im an idiot for believing in fairy tales. Surely, there is an ulterior motive for his proposal, and off my head goes to every possibility and reason why this isn’t good and its not going to happen. Just like the post and so many of the comments, every little detail is magnified, scrutinized, thought over and over and over. Its exhausting.
    Thank God for this post….thank God Im not crazy, and most importantly, thank God Im not right…thank God I don’t have to listen to the crazy thoughts as my “intuition” despite knowing they are distorted. I am sad others have experienced the same things I have, because I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. But at the same time, Im so so so relieved to know it has happened, and it is this stupid GAD acting up.
    I hope this post continues finding lovely brides to be that need the reassurance about being worthy of love despite this exhausting condition.

  • Dolph ziggler

    These are truly amongst the wonderful informative blogs.bubblegum casting