Monthly Archives: October 2021

The Love Thief: Part 4

Oddly, he didn’t text or call, and I started getting anxious. I knew I shouldn’t because he probably had a good reason why he didn’t notify me he’d gotten home, but the problem with my mind is that when I start freaking out I’m usually unable to calm myself down until whatever it is that’s making me anxious is resolved.

Since I didn’t want to think too much about it, I took this novel I’ve been reading and continued reading it. I hoped it would distract me and while it did, I could still feel my breaths getting short as the anxiety worked me up. As I’ve been sleeping late talking/chatting with him, and I had to wake up early Sunday morning to attend mass, I decided to seize the moment and go to bed early.

By then I was feeling disappointed, that he had just bailed on me. Wounded, I reminded myself why I don’t like being in relationships; they open me up, leaving me vulnerable to disappointment, and that disappointment triggers my anxiety. I got into bed at around 1.15am Sunday, but just before I lied down, I thought I should check my phone since it had been on silent mode for a while.

I found a couple of texts, where he was apologising for bailing on me. He sounded sincere, and I hated myself for being too quick to judge him. He’d been in some crisis meeting all day to discuss his restaurant’s finances and as he’d skipped lunch, he’d gotten a serious migraine. So when he’d gotten home he’d taken some painkillers and had fallen asleep on his covers.

Seeing as he had not had supper, we texted as he ate and as such, we stopped texting at around 4.40 am. By then my anxiety had subsided and I was even feeling happy. On Sunday we spent a lot of time texting, but I realised something had changed. All my excitement had dissipated, and I was awash with this intense anxiety, which made me feel like I was waiting to sit an exam or something. I was even feeling nauseous.

I was not eager to talk to him anymore, yet his texts exuded this profound warmth. I just found myself dreading to talk to him anymore, and I took a moment to analyse the situation, so I could figure out what was wrong. From my analysis I established a few things: firstly, I like him a lot, and based on the vibes I’ve picked from talking with him, he likes me a lot as well.

Secondly, since I’ve known him for three years now, I’ve figured a lot about him and I’m pretty much ok with who he is, in terms of character and all. Therefore, in the event we decide to get into a relationship, I wouldn’t mind being with him for the long haul. In short, I’m ok with who he is.

Thirdly, I feel I have been disappointed too many times by guys I’ve tried dating; and, that fear of abandonment that subjects me to heartache is what I’m afraid of. So while I like this guy a lot, I’m afraid of him breaking my heart in future, and that’s what’s making me miserable.

Disturbed by the third aspect of my analysis, I Googled ‘relationship anxiety’ to see if there was such a thing; and to my disbelief, it is actually a medical condition. Reading about it made me cry. Everyone hopes to find love somehow, and in rare moments someone nice comes along… but for a few unlucky persons like me, we are unable to embrace that person, and the love they’re offering, because some screwed up part of our minds fills us with this overwhelming fear of all the things that could possibly go wrong in future.

I’ve been sad the whole day, trying to figure out if I should just avoid relationships completely, so I can have peace of mind. My frustration is that this guy is all kinds of sweet… he hasn’t done anything to make me doubt him, yet my fear of him disappointing me in future is already screwing up my mind, to the extent that I feel it would be better to avoid him. That way I will not get attached to him; and that way, he can’t hurt me. Problem is, in my attempt to push him away I might be the one hurting him because I can tell he already likes me.

Before last night, I thought relationships cause me anxiety because of some certain aspects I might not like about someone, seeing as I have one-too-many pet peeves. However, me knowing this particular guy is as kind and awesome as they come has made me realize, that I am the one standing in the way of my own happiness; and the worst part is, I don’t know how to help it.

The Love Thief: Part 3

At the time he was going through some financial constraints, which he hadn’t told me about, so he just pulled away abruptly without warning. For six whole months we did not talk or communicate in any way. I was still smarting over the response he had given me, and unbeknownst to me, he was dealing with financial issues (that he did not want me to know about). He did not reach out, and I did not either.

During our unofficial hiatus, I happened to watch the movie, ‘Not without my daughter’, starring Sally Field, and as anyone who’s watched it might expect, it scared me half to death. If that movie was anything to go by, there was so much to be afraid of, in relation to me forging out a path into the future with my Muslim guy. I missed him so much sometimes, but then the fear would dampen those feelings.

It was only months later (half a year to be precise), that he attempted to reach out to me, acting so casually, like he had never left. Subsequent to my inquiry, he told me he had taken some time off to deal with some financial issues. While I sympathised with him, I couldn’t understand how he had just deemed it wise to disappear without warning.

I tried to walk a mile in his shoes, and while I couldn’t excuse his behaviour, I oddly found myself still so drawn him. The embers of our affection were still burning. Nonetheless, I also noted with concern that my carefree attitude towards our religious differences, and the deep affection that made me feel we could conquer the world and be happy together, was all gone; and in its place was these intense anxiety.

‘He has no qualms marrying three more wives after we’re married’, I told myself. ‘And he will disappear again…’ These thoughts drained all my joy; and talking to the guy I once desired, became the bane of my existence. Every time he texted or called, I’d feel so nauseous, that I had to find a polite way to blow him off. All the excitement I’d once felt was gone.

Eventually, I realised I couldn’t keep dodging him, so I figured I had to be frank and tell him what was bugging me. I told him after analysing our situation, I did not have the emotional capacity to be more than friends with him, so we hit reset and went back to being friends. Just like with majority of my relationships, I was ecstatic when we broke up. I felt I could breathe again.

To date, three years later, we are still friends; and while he usually tries to convince me to be more than friends, I usually decline politely. Hard as I try, I cannot see beyond the anxiety I felt when I was with him; and that is usually the dilemma I face in relationships. Hardly do my interactions bloom into full-fledged love, because for some reason, I always feel too anxious to stay with someone.

Due to this overwhelming anxiety, I’m just learning to avoid relationships. The loneliness is overwhelming, but at the same time it affords me a reasonable amount of peace, since I don’t get to deal with issues which could trigger my anxiety.

Just two months ago, I reconnected with a friend. Since then we’ve been talking every day, and just for a short while, I actually felt alive. Since he runs a restaurant, we don’t talk much during the day, so we usually talk in the evening when he gets back home. Normally we talk from around 10pm until one of us says they’re sleepy. Because of this, I’ve been trying to clear my schedule for the day, so that by the time we start talking I won’t have any work pending.

This past Saturday we texted in the morning before he left for work, and we didn’t text again the whole day. I just assumed we’d talk again as usual in the evening when he got off work. By the time the clock was striking 10.00 o’clock, I was already full of anticipation, because I’ve really been enjoying his company.

The Love Thief: Part 2

While I realized I wasn’t ready to get married because I was not ready to depend on a guy financially, I also realized it was particularly difficult to avoid relationships altogether; seeing as there’s always that fascinating curiosity that draws one to someone they have recently met. That right there, is what has seen me try to date a couple of times; but due to my crippling anxiety, I’m always failing miserably.

The curiosity only gets me through the dating door, but my anxiety pulls me out of that situation just as fast. For instance, I once dated this Muslim guy, who was in so many ways my ‘dream guy’. He was physically attractive, had a great sense of humour and was very caring. Funny thing is, when we started talking we, or at least I, did not have any intentions of getting romantically involved with him.

In any case, since I knew he was Muslim, and I’m Catholic, I tried keeping him at arm’s length. This is because I knew even if we started dating somehow, our respective religions would present a great obstacle at some point. Case in point: in Islam, marriage is a contract that can be terminated at any time, while in the Catholic Church, it is a sacrament which can only be terminated by death.

As a matter of fact, the Catholic Church does not recognise the civil divorce. Therefore, if any of the parties want their marriage fully terminated, they can only seek an annulment by the church. Ideally what this means is that under civil law Catholics divorce all the time; a substantial number of divorce petitions are filed by parties married in the Catholic Church.

I remember getting shocked, when during my court clinicals in the second year of my legal studies, I came across divorce petitions filed by Catholics at the court registry. In my understanding at the time, Catholics never divorced. It is then I understood how it all works. Essentially, state law allows Catholics to divorce.

Nonetheless, this is just a procedural issue because with regard to the Catholic doctrine (Canon law), the couple is still married in God’s eyes, and as such, have no freedom to remarry. Ergo, a divorced Catholic purporting to remarry is only perceived to be committing adultery.

In light of this, I knew if I got involved with this guy, we would hit an iceberg at some point. In my thinking therefore, it was better to avoid that situation in the first place. Every time he brought up the idea of us dating, I would jokingly remind him that as a Muslim man he was allowed to marry up to four wives; something I would never be comfortable with.

However, we found ourselves chatting each day and before long we were already getting emotionally attached. Gradually we realised we were getting out of the ‘friend zone’ and into the dating zone. By then. I already liked him too much to care about his religion. Furthermore, since us dating wasn’t something preconceived, I had not had the time to engage my mind about all the things that could possibly go wrong. My anxiety was still in hibernation and I was really happy.

As months passed by, I became increasingly aware of the fact that our relationship was starting to feel every bit serious, and it’s at that point I started researching on Islam generally, just to get an idea of what I was getting myself into.

I even researched on mixed religion marriages just to get a feel of how they work, and if they are sustainable. I think he usually felt my apprehensiveness because he would constantly reassure me that he would do everything in his power to protect our relationship. His words were calming, and I think that put me at ease.

Over the months, we became so ok with each other’s religion, that he would refer to me as ‘my Catholic girl’. I, on the other hand, would remind him to say his prayers if the praying time reached while we were chatting. If we had questions about each other’s religion we would discuss them. It was just so interesting.

I wasn’t sure how it would turn out if eventually we chose to get married at some point, owing to the aforementioned religious differences; but every time I would just silence the tiny voice in my head telling me I was building myself up for an epic disappointment. I was so upbeat about our relationship working.

However, one evening while we were chatting I asked him if in the event we got married he would contemplate marrying another wife, given that Islam allows it. “I’m not sure”, was his nonchalant reply. Needless to say, that response broke my heart into tiny little shards. I felt that if he loved me for real, he wouldn’t contemplate marrying another woman.

That moment awakened my anxiety, and it sucked me in voraciously, like a fierce tornado. It’s at that point it hit me hard, that our relationship had no future. Even if I fell head-over-heels in love with him, we could never marry. As far as I was concerned, our halcyon days were over.