I have anxiety. Yeah, me.
[deep breath, long pause]
I have anxiety. Yeah, me, Dallas Hartwig.
This has been a really tough thing for me to admit, since I have — for most of my life, anyway — self-identified as a really level-headed, easygoing, and resilient man.
For the first 30-ish years of my life, I dealt with psychological stress really well.
A demanding grad school program, the horrific loss of my father to pancreatic cancer, a divorce from my college sweetheart, and leaving a stable career in physical therapy to become a public speaker and entrepreneur … I dealt with them all pretty well.
It wasn’t easy, but it was totally manageable.
But then… I got into a new relationship, started working with my girlfriend (later wife), and shit got bad.
We argued about everything, especially work.
We were not our best selves to each other (let’s call that a giant understatement).
I ended up anxious, unhappy, desperately lonely, and losing what was previously an unshakable confidence in my own ability.
Eventually, I decided to leave that relationship, and things started to get better (though they got much, much worse at first).
I spent several years healing, resting, and also floundering professionally.
But, I felt more calm, grounded, and optimistic than I had in a long time.
Earlier this year, I started a new relationship with a brilliant, wise, beautiful woman, and voila!
I got anxious again.
Turns out, the psychological vulnerability of being “all in” can trigger anxiety, even in otherwise stable people. (Worth noting: having anxiety isn’t evidence that a relationship is bad for you.)
My relationship is deep, profound, and supportive, and still… I’m terrified sometimes.
So I’m working through it all, and I’m far better for it.
I still don’t like admitting that I get really anxious, but it’s the truth, so I’m speaking it.
Not all truths are pretty.
Through pain, the world has taught me to be better.
More textured, and more cautious perhaps, but better nonetheless.
Here’s to being better together, friends.
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