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When we met, you couldn’t tell me that I didn’t have my stuff together. You couldn’t tell me that I wasn’t over my ex. And you definitely couldn’t tell me that I wasn’t ready for the partner that I believed God had for me to waltz into my life and sweep me off of my feet so that we could live happily ever after. I had taken a three-year dating hiatus by that point. I had read my share of relationship books, listened to enough sermons aimed at Christian singles that I could spew their rhetoric in my sleep, and I was pretty sure that I had arrived—whatever that means.

Everything was great while we casually dated. I was seeing other people, as was he, and I still felt very much in control. But then, we decided to become exclusive and slowly, my nerves started to get the best of me. The honeymoon stage was awesome, but as that period began to wind down and real life started to take over, the butterflies I once felt in my stomach were replaced with pure anxiety. I went from viewing him as someone I had fallen madly in love with to an enemy of sorts who I had to stay 10 steps ahead of in order to protect myself. I questioned everything—even the good things—because I needed to make sure he wouldn’t pull a fast one when I wasn’t paying attention. The sad part was that I didn’t really have reason to feel this way.

The negative thoughts would usually creep in without warning and each time, I would entertain them without even realizing that I had an option not to. After mulling over them long enough, I would feel compelled to say something, and before I knew it, an uncomfortable conversation or argument would ensue. I can recall ruining some of our otherwise perfect evenings together because I allowed every wild thought or fear to take up residence in my mind to the point where I needed to speak on them. Anything could serve as a trigger.

Looking back, I can say that I was a hot mess, a complete emotional wreck and a bit of a head case. As much as I said I was over what happened to me in the past, I wasn’t. I was expecting him to behave just like my ex did and I conducted myself accordingly. To make matters worse, he was also dealing with trauma from a past relationship, so when you mixed my issues with his, we had a rather toxic situation. There was never any yelling or screaming, but there were plenty of side-eyes, slick comments, and distrust. Strangely, even with all of that going on, I knew that we had something good buried underneath all of our baggage, and if we could manage to get out of our own ways, we could be something great.

I finally came to the realization that I had a problem and needed to make a change during one of our date nights where we watched The Wolf of Wall Street. Apparently, seeing a reenactment of Jordan Belfort cheating on his wife set me off. I know, it’s crazy. Of course, knowing that you need to change and actually going about making said change are two completely different things so even when I wanted to put a stop to my behavior, it had no idea how.

I wish that I could offer a clever list of steps for how we finally broke free from the vicious cycle that had us going nowhere fast, but I don’t. Honestly, prayer and some kind of miracle were the only things that turned that situation around. I clearly remember asking God to show me whether or not this was the person that I should be with. I recall whispering the prayer in a moment of desperation and not even really being sure whether or not it would work. However, somehow, I knew that if I could receive a clear sign that this was where God wanted us to be, the anxiety and everything else would subside, or it would at least be easier to deal with. Thankfully, God gave me that sign and I can honestly say that it’s been a completely different relationship since then. In fact, it’s been better than I could have ever imagined it to be.

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