Life has a way of imitating dreams. It can be all that you want, or like a nightmare, turn to paralyzing fear. It can take a sane, strong person and turn them to a mass of nothingness. It can do it as quick as the passing of a thought. With the swipe of a hand, one can have the dream come true and in the blink of an eye, the dream becomes a nightmare. In the dream, she was always mine yet I couldnt reach her. In reality, she really was mine but I lost her to the fear that became my nightmare. Denial of what I was facing caused my biggest fear to become a reality. It made fear my way of life and turned that life into a nightmare. I have faced that nightmare, time and again, I face it with each and every breath. In facing this nightmare, I have grown immensely, only now realizing my full potential- all that she saw in me that was good and strong comes to me, the only fear I carry now is that it is too late for her to love me again. This is the story of a woman who stood on the top of the world one day and the next, was carrying it all on her shoulders. It is my story, written in hopes of preventing this nightmare to ever fall on anyone who has, does or will ever find their soulmate.
At the time the anxiety struck me, I was living my lifes dream. I had escaped the confines of my home state, had gained the love and respect of my family and gained a wonderful family of my own, I was blessed with the love of the most beautiful woman I had ever known, and I was truly happy and content for the first time in my life. I had a great paying job with a prestigious position- even if it was stressful at times, but I was secure in my position with the company so I thought it was all right.
Home life was very different from what I had lived prior and although we had some conflicts, there was enough love and genuine fondness enough to override any and every conflict. At the age of 35, I was learning parenthood and for the most part, loving every minute of it. Sometimes, the girls left me fit to be tied and then theyd turn and look at me and I could see love in their eyes, the innocence of youth, and my heart would just melt and my anger would disappear into thoughts of how to make it better for all of us. Afterall, this type of relationship was as new to them as parenting was to me!
My lady was over extending herself in an effort to get her degree as well as working and being both parents to the girls and her niece. On top of that, shed get home and listen to everyones stories of the day, complaints, successes, etc. I see now how this was a drain on her and although my intentions were sincere, my complaints only added to it. That admission may not seem relevant right now, but it is because when the anxiety struck me, I felt alone and as though my lady resented me, rather than understood and accepted the situation. Cause and effect took its toll there in that my prior complaining left her little strength to deal with my anxiety. I saw only her reaction to it, rather than its effect on her. Truth is, I was so scared that I could see only that I was alone facing this horrible thing.
It started with a common cold that settled into vertigo. The vertigo caused me to feel dizzy all the time and I had never experienced such dizziness. Just as life has a way of playing cruel tricks on a person, the mind can play just as rough and in my mind, I was sure that something was deadly wrong with me. It took a long while for me to face the fact that I needed help but finally, after several anxiety attacks and the cold not going away, I went to the doctor. That visit did minimal good since anxiety is not diagnosable unless the patient opens up and speaks fully of what they may be experiencing. To admit to being scared was impossible for me to do, it would surely make me less of a person, it would make me weak in the eyes of everyone I cared about and my pride wouldnt allow it. Several tests were run and finally prior to one visit to the doctor, my lady and I talked and I admitted that I felt scared all the time. She told me that I had to tell the doctor and so I took her advice and did. That is how I was diagnosed with anxiety. My doctor was understanding and not judgmental, and that gave me courage to face the fact that I was experiencing an anxiety disorder. My next task was to figure out where it came from and make myself deal with it.
I had gotten dizzy twice while driving and so had not driven by this time for several weeks. If I had opened my eyes, I would have understood that my lady did care, afterall, she was driving me to and from work everyday all that time. For some reason, possibly self-concern, I was unable to see that. We began going on short drives to help me get over my fear. We also explored the origins of this fear at great length. Finally, it led to my getting a new truck just so I wouldnt have to face driving the car I had had the attacks in. The truck helped but my lady helped me even more by continuing to talk with me, riding with me, and even following me to work for just in case the anxiety came on. It had come to a point though where she could no longer follow me or drive me around because her work schedule changed. One day we had a long talk over lunch and I listened with my heart rather than letting the anxiety take over. That day, I drove home alone and the next day drove to work alone. We had set a goal date for me to begin doing this and I beat it by a week, which boosted my confidence in driving to a great degree. By the end of that week, I made my first drive home without anyone on the cell phone and it felt great! I felt that I was finally getting over it.
Unfortunately, driving wasnt my only hurdle to get over. There were nights when I would awaken filled with fear- I was so in the grips of it that all I could do was cry. Usually, my lady stayed up with me but after awhile, I felt that I was just being a nuisance so I wouldnt wake her, I would just crawl into her arms and hold onto her for all I was worth. During those times, I felt alone and misunderstood but lucky as well that my ladys arms offered so much comfort. When I would sleep, I was taunted by dreams of being back in my home state with no way or even hope of getting back to my lady and the life we so wanted to build. These dreams were horrible and I could not shake them no matter how hard I tried. I had told her about them ever since I had the first one and as always, she reassured me that I was not going lose her and that we would not be separated. When I finally realized that the dreams meant nothing, was just two days before I ended up calling my family to come and get me. That realization offered so much comfort- it was as though I had conquered another obstacle but it came too late.
My job also had gotten stressful. We lost licensing on our software and had to change to a new one. My anxiety and the days I had had to miss work because of it also threatened my security. To make matters worse, everyday at work was like a balancing act of robbing one to pay another just so we could stay in business. My boss dumped on me about it all the time, he wasnt doing it to hurt me and I always knew that. He was doing it in an effort to discuss finances and maybe gain some insight on how to fix them, but that too, added to my worries and anxiety. The new software arrived as well as new computers so I was having to learn everything all over again. The anxiety left my confidence at zero and so I was afraid I might not be able to learn it and would lose my job because of it. I felt that my family and I depended on that job and so more anxiety entered my realm. The software was almost incomprehensible but no one listened when I said it. Unfortunately, the owners of the company never knew first hand how much harder it was to work with until the day I left. By then, I had conquered that too and even though it wasnt always easy, I had learned how to make the software work for me.
To make matters worse, I was being taken prisoner by the anxiety. I allowed it to keep me home so much that going anywhere was hell for me. A trip to the grocery store by myself was impossible until I had been driving again for a couple of weeks. I was afraid to admit this and it got on my ladys nerves that not only did she have to fend for herself and her kids, she also had to fend for the adult that was at one time so independent. When she voiced this to me, it cut like a knife but I couldnt rightfully argue. I took it into my heart instead and let it fester there as proof that she didnt love me anymore. I made up my mind to not be a prisoner of anxiety and that started me to taking little trips to the store and to run short errands again. To me, all of these small things were monumentous accomplishments. I began to feel stupid for being so proud of these accomplishments- dont people run out and do these things all the time? Who was I that it should have meant so much? That put me down on myself. It unfolded a whole new stack of self-doubt and of course, added to the anxiety.
While all of this was happening, I was homesick. I missed my parents and sisters, I missed my home grounds.
I was torn between wanting to be with this family I loved so very much and the family I had left behind. My lady stepped in again and even went as far as buying plane tickets for me to go back but the anxiety kept me from doing so. I was so afraid to leave because of the dreams I mentioned earlier that I flat out refused to unless she would accompany me. There was another drain for her but I didnt see that one either. I also lacked the courage to speak of my homesickness and being that I couldnt speak of it, I also couldnt tell her of the guilt I was feeling for having left my family. I saw only too late that they were working the guilt on me and it was taking a serious toll on me and just about everything in my life. I felt that if I admitted to it, I would be regarded as weak. I had such a fear of weakness based on cultural beliefs that it made me weaker than simply admitting it would have.
A lot of my problem was because of my pride. Hispanics make up for what they lack by having too much pride. When my lady and I first got together, I had to work hard to get past that pride just to be able to open up and talk to her. She told me straight out that I had nothing to hide or be ashamed of- there was no need for that pride to stand in the way of communicating with her, she would accept me unconditionally. When I opened up completely and talked to her, shed tears for things that had hurt me, laughed over the silly things, etc, it felt so good. It was as if I had lost something that weighed me down since I could remember. That feeling is what allowed me to continue to be open with my lady, the one I knew would never hurt me. Thing is, I opened about most everything except for things having to do with my pride and that hurt us. I know now that I was still insecure about myself and that did, understandably magnify as time went on. I felt that my lady was closing down on me. I think about that and ask myself over and over, why didnt I swallow that pride and talk to her? She was always the one to initiate deep conversations, I should have taken that one on myself. I made feeble attempts to talk to her about it but was so afraid to lose her because of it, I never got past saying the usual things.
At times, I felt as though I were standing outside watching my life through a window. I was depressed to the extent of not caring whether I lived or not while at the same time not wanting to die either. She told me over and over that I loved her too much. It used to hurt my feelings when she would say that. I would always tell her that I couldnt ever love her enough and in my heart, I believed that. There is such a thing as too much love when it hurts the people involved. In loving her so much, I forgot to keep any love or strength for myself and that made me too weak to deal with myself. When I gave her my heart, I gave every bit of it, kept nothing for myself, saved nothing to be able to continue functioning. That was wrong in so many ways. It hurt us both deeply. I was no longer the woman she had fallen for, yet I couldnt see that. I thought the anxiety was just something that I would get over and wed go on and everything would be normal again. I didnt have anything left of myself to work on the anxiety with and it made me dependent on my lady and I believe that was the turning point in our relationship. I couldnt see that loving her so much was hurting her, just as I couldnt see how my dependency was hurting her. I have never in my life loved anyone or anything so completely, so fully that it hurt the way this has. Now, I feel that I have no heart, just a mass of scars where a heart used to be. Sometimes I feel it decaying inside my chest but these feelings tell me that it is still there. To love someone is to be able to give freely of yourself as well as keep love for yourself. I have learned that since we separated. I have dropped my pride and apologized for the pain I caused and I will always regret having fallen so deeply that I lost sight of what was important. In trying to love my lady and treasure both her and the relationship, I broke it as well as broke myself. I have pride yet but its not as important, it doesnt stand in my way as it once did. Ive humbled and changed as dramatically as the color of my hair did when we separated. I was once filled with laughter but seldom find anything funny enough to laugh at. Ive learned to keep more to myself and seldom have anything to say unless Im writing. I have also gotten rid of the medications I was on. I have made myself face things that before paralyzed me with fear. I have discovered that I am a survivor and nothing is impossible.
A lot of the reason I was able to face the things that scared me was because I came back to my family and got the shock of a cold shower on a hot day. Everything that I hadnt had to deal with while I was away was right here, staring me in the face. I remembered quickly my reasons for having left and regretted coming back to them. I cried myself to sleep every night for weeks. I grew to not care at all about life or death and went out and made myself do the things I feared because I felt that live or die, it didnt matter anymore. I had nothing to take comfort in so I grew to be self-reliant. My weakening turned to a strengthening, a learning experience. I stood back and looked carefully at every decision I made and analyzed everything. At the same time that the realizations and understanding came to me, I remembered things my lady had told me when she was trying to help me. At the time she said them, I was too far gone to receive them in the capacity they were given. I do owe that woman a lot though and I am not afraid to admit it. If not for the love I held for her, my nightmare would have continued to be my nightmare but I shook it all off for my own well being as well as to not cause her anymore pain. It may sound smug of me to say, but if I had died or taken my life, I think it would have hurt her and so to keep one last promise to her, I took the pain of living to avoid hurting her anymore.
In a little over two months, Ive faced my fears and learned to deal with them. Ive learned to accept myself, faced my shortcomings, and tried to rebuild my life. I am now much stronger than I ever was before. I know too that my home is in the things that matter in life, it is not in the things that I once held so dear. I am more serious now and I see things a little too clearly but I accept that as my lot in life. I know that I have a lot to learn, afterall, life is a learning experience. My dreams have changed now, in them, my lady and I are together, happy, and very much in love with each other. My hope is that these dreams will become my reality as easily as my nightmare did. I allow myself the luxury of believing in my dreams, rather than fearing them as I once did. They came true once before and not for the better so in the theory of Ying and yang, maybe, itll happen again and this time for the better.