Alona and I are sisters, and I love her with all my heart. We are the only children of our parents who love us unconditionally, although I have to say I may have disappointed them when I got pregnant when I was 18. I was still in college back then, and I had to stop going to school and get a job, but my parents insisted that I finish my studies. The guy who got me pregnant went missing, and my parents said to not bother looking for him because if he wanted to stand up for what we did that he would show up right in front our doorstep.
When I was younger, I thought, my love for my husband was enough. He’s not a Brad Pitt or a Tom Cruise, but he was my Brad Pitt. At 17, I thought, I found my Tom Cruise. I was so in love with him, and I don’t know why. If you ask me what made me fall in love with this person, I’d say I don’t know. I just have this “pull” that I can’t quite explain. As what Kurt Smith, Psy.D. said, “Falling in love is easy to do, almost effortless, but losing that loving feeling is not that hard to do, either.” Sometimes, I get so irritated with myself – how can I love a person without knowing the reason why?
This story doesn’t have a happy ending. I’m going to tell you right now. You see, I am separated from my husband at the moment after 23 years of being together. I am done crying; been doing that for months. I just don’t want to be depressed anymore. I’m refusing to act like a lost cause any longer. This is the life I have now, and six children are relying on me, their mom. I have to put up a brave face as a front, as I don’t want them to pity me.
Familiarity happened. Respect was lost. Adultery ensued. Vengeance and spite ruined us more. Saying to forgive, but not meaning it took a toll. He was and is still a gambling addict. I was and still, am a socially anxious person. We may have married on impulse and made a decision based on tainted facts. I was pregnant, and he was more than willing to marry me because of our firstborn. This realization came to me one night, and it has haunted me ever since.
I used to surrender to him. Gambling was his priority and with occasional affairs here and there – I turned the other cheek and kept it all in. In my mind then, if he came home to me every night, then, he loves me. It’s ok.
Well, you know what, it’s not ok. I recently realized, after more than a decade of lying to myself, that if my husband really valued me, he would do everything in his power to stop gambling and womanizing. Sure, an addict will not admit to himself that he is an addict, but he can choose to ask help from me, his wife and life partner so that I can support him through therapy and treatment. “Gambling disorders are highly comorbid with other mental health and substance use disorders, and a further understanding is needed of both the causes and treatment implications of this disorder,” says Seyed Amir Jazaeri, Ph. D. and Mohammad Hussain Bin Habil, Ph. D. But he decided not to listen to me and continued ignoring me so that he can play cards. As for the womanizing part, he is a weak man. I prayed for his redemption too many times, but he just won’t budge.
So, what am I to do? Do I keep on being like this? Can I spend another 20 years of gambling debts, night outs, women’s cologne on his clothes, lies, and unusual behavior? I put my foot forward and said to myself – THIS HAS TO STOP.
I Wrote Him A Letter
My letter only contained three sentences. It wasn’t much in words, but I’m sure it pierced his empty heart and understood where I am coming from indeed.
I am leaving you for now since I want to find myself and repair the self-inflicted damage wherein you helped me create over the years. This may or may not close the doors for us, and really, it’s up to you now. I am just done with you, your lies, gambling, and womanizing – until then, let’s just enjoy the space.
Your Faithful Wife
What I’m Doing Now
I enrolled in a yoga class and applied for a part-time job as an administrative clerk at the local college. Of course, my one-on-one counseling is regular (once a week), and my therapist has been truly helpful. With some savings, I leased a studio apartment, and for once, I’ve been doing the things that I love.
Our children? Well, our youngest is 15, and he is almost an adult. I spoke with all of them before moving out and asked them to understand me and my situation. The two youngest kids are with me. All the others are in different states finishing their degrees. So yes, my husband is all alone in a big house. I hope it’s doing him good.
From time to time, he calls or texts me, asking how I am and if he can see the kids. I mean, sure, I let them meet and bond. I will never snatch that opportunity from my children to spend time with their dad. He may be a lousy husband, but he is a good father and provider. If only things were different, but they’re not. I guess, I just have to accept the fact and move on. As Darlene Lancer, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist quoted, “Acceptance is essential for satisfying relationships.”
Have you ever been so stressed you can’t think clearly? Have you ever found yourself paralyzed by fear and dread? If so, then you are part of the millions of people who have experienced anxiety. Small levels of stress are a part of everyday life. “Working effectively with stress requires taking control of our responsibility and our attitude,” according to Alicia H. Clark, PsyD. However, it becomes an anxiety disorder when it starts to interfere with your life.
Anxiety is caused by many factors. According to Joel Minden, Ph.D., “Anxiety is characterized by excessive and unrealistic concerns about the future, emotional and physical tension, and patterns of avoidance–avoiding people, responsibilities, or harmless situations.” You might be predisposed towards anxiety by your genetics. Your environment also influences how well you can cope with anxiety. Finally, your personality can affect your chances of developing an anxiety disorder, as well as how well you adjust to stress. Understanding what these personality traits are and how they affect your mental health is critical to becoming more on guard against anxiety.
Anxiety And The Big Five Personality Traits
Personality refers to the collective traits governing how a particular person behaves. Friendliness, cheerfulness, bravery, recklessness, disorderliness, and aggression are just some of the myriad personality traits that people use to describe each other. Given that there are thousands of personality traits, researchers came up with a system to categorize these traits into five distinct categories:
Openness is the willingness to try new things and to entertain new perspectives. Conscientiousness refers to a desire for order and performance. Extraversion describes the tendency to reach out to people and to build social networks. Agreeableness refers to the desire to develop and maintain harmonious relationships with other people. Finally, neuroticism deals with emotional instability, or the tendency to experience a broad spectrum of emotions in a rapid fashion.
Not surprisingly, neuroticism is well correlated with anxiety. Having less power to control your emotions can take its toll on your mental health. Being too emotional can potentially lead to more stress, and chronic or severe stress can lead to an anxiety disorder. People with anxiety have trouble managing stress, and people high in neuroticism tend to lose control over their emotions.
Research also indicates that high extraversion correlates with lower anxiety levels. One of the ultimate ways to cope with stress is to find support from your social networks. Friends and loved ones can give you the help you need, empowering you to fight back against anxiety. Extraversion allows people to access a more extensive social network and to maintain stronger relationships with other people. Hence, this personality trait helps stave off anxiety.
For the other major personality trait categories, the evidence is mixed. However, people with higher levels of trust, which falls under agreeableness, are less likely to have anxiety. Trust allows people to seek out help and to receive support from other people. Self-efficacy, a trait that falls under conscientiousness, also helps reduce anxiety. Individuals with high self-efficacy are more motivated and more confident to persevere during hard times.
Other Personality Traits Relevant To Anxiety
There are more specific personality traits that influence anxiety levels. One of the most insidious is perfectionism, which pushes people to strive for perfection at all costs. Perfectionism is an extreme form of ambition that hurts people in the long run. By chasing perfection, people tend to ignore other needs and to put themselves in constant stress. As shown earlier, extreme stress can lead to anxiety disorders.
Overthinking can also raise anxiety levels. Dwelling too much on your thoughts, especially after traumatic experiences, can prevent your mind from moving on. Being too worried is a sure way to ruin your mood, leading to increased stress and anxiety.
Surprisingly, being emphatic can increase your anxiety. Caring for other people and being concerned for their well-being consumes some of your mental resources. Highly emphatic individuals also tend to feel guilty whenever they perceive that they’ve failed to help others in some way. Empathy is not bad, and the world needs more emphatic people. However, emphatic people need to be aware of the risks involved in caring too much about others.
Finally, avoidance is a personality trait that can lead to more anxiety. Running away from problems might seem like an effective short-term solution. However, these unsolved problems will eventually return. If people don’t correctly deal with their issues, they will be burdened by them down the line. Avoidance leads to more stress and higher anxiety levels.
Knowing which personality traits can lead to anxiety will help you anticipate the risks. You can then take action by changing some of your more harmful traits. Ultimately, this knowledge will help you prevent anxiety. But according to Jennifer Sweeton Psy.D., “If your anxiety feels overwhelming or difficult to manage, consider seeking mental health services, as professional treatment for anxiety can be very effective for many people!”
Childhood is the most vulnerable stage in development. If a child tends to be shy, keeps to himself, is notably smaller in size compared to their friends, or exhibit traits that fall to the autistic spectrum, it increases the vulnerability of becoming a target by aggressive children. A bullying incident may affect a child’s vulnerable mental health. According to Kristen Fuller, M.D., clinical health writer, “Bullying is more than name-calling on the playground; it is a form of verbal, physical, and emotional abuse that can lead to the development of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety as well as behavioral disorders.” In the long run, it will risk with him or her falling into depression and obviously, lacking self-esteem. Parents, family, and teachers should be aware that despite the isolated case of bullying, a child may carry this pain as he or she grows up.