I know my anxiety to be a liar. I don't know how to shut it up. Please help me get a handle on it before it derails something amazing.
Hi Askme. I should preface this question by acknowledging that, yes, therapy will be a component of the solution and clarifying that, yes, I am currently engaged in treatment. But things are happening quickly at present and, furthermore, I've a very short window to clear some of these old stumbling blocks out of the way and grasp the opportunity before me now.
Here's the situation. I am a 30yo man who has long suffered crushing social anxiety, especially when it comes to women. A confluence of body issues, confidence issues, awkwardness and inexperience basically brought me into adulthood unable to perceive myself as a viable mate. Now, I recognize that this is an absurd way for a man to see himself and have long been at war with these negative impulses of mine - laboring to get in shape, to push my comfort zone and get some of the experience I've been lacking, to learn how to conduct myself comfortably and confidently in social settings, all of that stuff. And I can feel it working, gradually. This anxiety is an Iago: a deceitful, destructive saboteur and I am resolved to burn it out. I know it's not worth listening to.
Knowing and believing, however, can be two different things. And while I'm on the road to recovery, recent events demand that I accelerate this process considerably.
You see, after one year and two months with absolutely zero intimacy in my life, my luck is finally starting to change. I have met an absolutely amazing woman and, better still, I know for certain that my attraction to her is reciprocated. I know it, for she has explicitly spoken of it, but my Iago is giving me a hell of a time believing it. And we've only got two months to spend together before school and career plans we put in motion long before we came together put us on opposite ends of the country. At the rate I've been recovering, I haven't time to put my fears to rest before we pass out of each other's lives. My fears must die faster - I must be as good as I can possibly be for her in the little bit of time we've got left.
Anxiety has interfered with our relationship in a few ways at this point, and I was hoping the hive mind had some ideas on how to clear these fears out of the channel between this woman and I. Even though she has stated her attraction to and enjoyment of me unambiguously several times, when plans fall through or too much time passes between our interactions or time spent together, Iago tries to tell me her affections are false or dying. I know it's a lie and yet I can never quite silence it. And we're both extremely busy and more than a little flaky, so the occasional plan will continue to fall through. Even though the private time we do get is marked with much cuddling, leg-tangling, hand-holding, squeezing and nuzzling, I still catch myself feeling timid about touching her and kissing her. A few nights ago, she was draped across my lap and clutching my belt and still Iago tried to convince me that her mind could change at any instant and that my pushing too far or pushing at all will surely repulse and disgust her. The vast majority of our physical contact has been on her initiative and yet I struggle to believe she wants me to touch her.
Worst of all, a couple nights ago, when we tried to sleep together for the first time, I was so nervous and so worried about pleasing her and measuring up to her expectations that I suffered a rather embarrassing, uhm, equipment failure. She could sense my tension and I knew, damn it all, I knew
that there was no need for it and yet I could not will myself free of it. And when we're apart, I've no problem at all maintaining an erection while fantasizing about her - I've never been more attracted to a woman, I've never hungered for someone as I do for her - but when our moment came, I failed her. She was so very kind about it and didn't pressure or shame me at all - she wants to try again, as often as we need to get it right. She has said these words and yet Iago tells me that my failure was the end of it, that it has set her seeking a man without my shortcomings. And I know the last thing I want to do is shame myself and descend even deeper into this spiral of fear, but today I'm feeling that old gravity and am more than a little frightened I won't be able to resist it.
I don't mean to be grandiose or melodramatic, but I truly have waited all my life to meet and become intimate with a woman like her. Never before have I been so well-matched with somebody. We share interests, senses of humor, values, hobbies, all of it, plus it's like she was built in some sorta lab to be precisely my type in terms of appearance. She's as close to perfect as I've ever known or even dared to hope for and we've only two months to get it right.
firstname.lastname@example.org was the throwaway e-mail I used when I asked you all for help at the start
of this affair. The advice I received in that prior question kept me from committing some real blunders and helped a great deal in our getting as far as we have at this point. I come to you once more at this crucial juncture because she deserves the best of me and anxiety has nothing to do with that.
Please, help me to believe in her and not the traitor in my head.