“Texting anxiety” sounds minor. But has become really prominent in my life.
I guess it makes sense. I live alone, and even before This Current Moment, texting was something that had great influence over my thoughts and emotions, at least when it came to dating. In the before times, if I didn’t hear back from someone after a while, anxiety would buzz in the back of my mind or give me a nervous stomach, but I was still able to go about the rest of my day. Seeing people at work, seeing friends, and exploring a new city helped ease that feeling for the most part.
Everything, of course, has changed.
At the beginning of This Whole Thing, I was alone. There was a flood of articles about “How to Responsibly Date During This Time.” My personal 2020 dating experience included surprisingly intimate, hours-long phone conversations and daily rounds of texting long paragraphs back and forth. I would very quickly feel incredibly close to a person that I had never met in-person. Texting became the primary way I communicated, as opposed to a fun add-on for interacting face to face.
This, I learned, is not sustainable. Things often became too much for the other person. Sometimes they would tell me they couldn’t keep this up anymore, and they would permanently disappear (….except for watching all my Instagram Stories).
More frequently, they would disappear for days or weeks at a time, bubble back up to the surface for a little while, and then slowly vanish-and-come-back, vanish-and-come-back, lather-rinse-repeat.
I’m not sure which option hurts more. But I am definitely feeling a buildup of pain from all this. And the vanish-and-come-back option has happened enough where it’s feeling more and more like it has something to do with me. This time is forcing all of us to sit with and examine every ugly corner of ourselves. So it’s probably time I sit with this constant, sharp, and probably-more-common-than-I-think pain.
Here’s what I know so far:
- That if I don’t hear from a person I am dating after a certain point (usually at least a day), I assume they are going to drop me like a hot potato
- That this hot-potato-drop has only actually happened twice in over a year
- That I am able to go for at least a few hours without checking my phone (note to self: yay, that’s a good thing!)
- That if I check my phone after a few hours and no one has texted me, I feel like someone is holding their foot on my stomach
- That this foot-on-my-stomach feeling only gets worse the more I check my phone to the same result
- That I also feel gross, clingy, and undesirable when this happens
I don’t remember exactly when (because what is time) I realized that text messages were a big part of my unhappiness. It was within the last week or two. And when I did realize this, it seemed like texting was something that was too firmly entangled in my life to be removed. But that’s a weird thing to think, isn’t it? That this manmade, digital form of communicating can’t be pulled out of your life?
So what happens if you fully take text messages out of your life? Maybe not forever, but maybe for some hours, or a day, or a weekend, or even a month (Mercury is about to go retrograde, after all). What happens?
You’re alone. You have to sit with yourself. It’s you and your space, and the things you have filled your space with. These things are physical, mental, and emotional.
The physical stuff can get cluttered. The mental and emotional stuff can get heavy, sometimes really, really heavy. That’s scary. When I feel like that, my initial response is to, of course, want to grab the phone and have someone’s text confirm that I’m not gross and unlovable.
Lather rinse repeat.
Okay so here is some stuff you can do when you feel like you need to indulge in that constant anxiety party:
- Meditate for an hour (this can really help shift how you’re feeling)
- Read something (if it’s in a book and not a screen, great!)
- Clean something
- Listen to something (music/podcast/audiobook)
- Exercise (yoga/dance/HIIT/walk)
- Just sit on the floor and space out (see first bullet)
- Do something creative (write about how anxious you feel! paint something without caring how it looks!)
- Take a bath and space out
- Walk to Strand and look at books
- Light something in your space that smells good
- Make candles
- Eat an edible and sleep or something
- Organize something
- Go to the park and space out
- Make a list of thoughts you’re having that don’t involve dating (e.g., trying on swimsuits)
- Make a list of stuff you want to talk about in therapy
This is an introductory list. There are other things that can be included here. But a starting point is incredibly important.
I don’t really know how to end this, but I keep coming back to this Instagram post about how all of this aching and pain and loneliness is actually how you take the steps you need to get yourself to self-love. Dig deep. Isolate. Be alone. Ache. Lather rinse repeat. You can do it and you are not actually alone. You can move through this and come out even stronger than you were before.