on: love & anxiety

My anxiety fills me to the brim sometimes. Or rather, I am filled to the brim. How should I phrase it?

I can’t take a deep breath, really, and I know my head is somewhere else when I don’t turn up that one radio song I really like. When I’m in a good mood I blast it and also hit my hands, hard, against the steering wheel. It’s a fun song.

It’s probably the holiday season or hell maybe it’s just hormones, but I shudder with each exhale, worry, worry, worry.

Last night in the kitchen Chris asked me where a piece of tupperware was. I told him he was being condescending. Now, it feels kind of funny. At the time, I wavered between how far I’d take my reaction. I laughed, paused, doubled down on the original claim. Anxiety will do that to you, make you question your self worth. Your significant other has to be patient. Chris is patient.

He pulls me into a hug sometimes and I bury my face in his chest and sigh, heavily, shakily. He pulls away and pushes hair out of my face. “What?” I say, maybe, even, accusingly. “Just looking at you,” he smiles.

Love is like that — hills and valleys, or really, the roads that connect them. I fall sometimes, I show my uglier sides, I get frustrated, jealous, irrationally angry. Wallowing in the valleys. Other times I am triumphant, I throw my head back and laugh, and I am joy manifest. Hills, valleys.

Chris is there through it all. We are still learning each other. “I can see it in your face,” he says, when I say that I have had a bad day. He’s harder to read, likely, though this is reductive, because he is a man. “Are you mad?” I ask after the tupperware incident. He laughs, “What?” But he can be hurt by my comments, unsure about my furrowed brow.

Love, for us, is almost always soft and glowing. It’s boring, really, how happy we are. I don’t write about it because I don’t think I’d read about it. I can capture, though, those moments where love is so very important. Where I run at it, like a goddamn bull, head down, and it wraps its arms around me and tells me that it isn’t going anywhere. Isn’t that the best part?

It is both ordinary and incredible to be in love. People date, they get engaged, they get married all of the time. We aren’t special. And that’s OK. That’s the best, really, because if we take a breath, in the arms of the bearded man we love so deeply, and let it out, it joins the breath of everyone else in the world who loves. We could focus on that love and that breath and anxiety could lessen a little, for just a little bit.

You know when people ask, “How did you meet?” and as the months pass and turn into years you kind of want to up the ante, exaggerate the story. Maybe I just like the theatrics of it, knowing what punchlines work for which audiences.

People rarely ask, “Why do you love?” They can see it, sure, the leaning into each other, the kiss after a tale of the damn dogs being cute, the side eye smirk I never displayed until I met my future husband — and everything else that is both ordinary and incredible. They see love, we see it too.

I have an answer, though, and it sustains me, it helps, mightily, with those shaky sighs.

Why do you love?

“Just looking at you.”

How could you not?

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