Transferrable Anxiety?

Since returning from Africa I feel like a much better version of myself here in the U.S. I am not obsessing over small details and doing my very best to live in the present and “go with the flow.” Unfortunately, while I am not feeling anxious about issues in my own life, I am instead anxious about other people’s problems. My boyfriend (S) is taking the bar today and tomorrow and my stomach has been turning in circles about this since returning.

The humorous part is that I might be more nervous than S at this point. As he goes through normal routines the night before the test and the morning of the test I am breaking inside. He changes his departure time and how he is going to get there and it is taking all of my self-control to keep my mouth shout and just be patient. He will get there on time and these factors are not my decision.  

I have learned about every coping mechanism for my own anxiety, but how do I deal with anxiety that in no way belongs to me? The first trick I have adopted is by hiding my anxiety from him. It is not at all that I doubt that he will pass, but it is simply the anticipation of this huge exam (one that I will never even see). My second coping trick is to be the model of supportive girlfriend. I woke up at 6:30am with him to make him a sandwich and fashion the required name-tag to his backpack. I debated the benefits of taking a cab or the subway with him and did my best to be there for moral support.

When S left I expected a wave of relief to flood over me because at least I would be separated from the topic of my anxiety. I am still waiting to feel relieved. Meanwhile I am sure he is doing fine, as my own text anxiety usually fades by the time I start taking the test. In some ways I wonder if this is a sign of true love, that you feel so deeply for the people you care about. This made me think about how torturous it will be to be a parent and live through your kids’ experiences. Alternatively I wonder if this is a result of my “hyper-sensitivity” and just me picking up any anxious wavelengths in my environment. The first option sounds much nicer so I am going to stick with that one.

In the meantime, I guess I must cope with my “sympathy anxiety” for S in the same way I cope with my own anxiety. This includes exercising, distracting myself, and distracting myself some more. 


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