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My husband pushes the shopping cart. 

Every single time we go to the store, my husband pushes the shopping cart, and after five years together, he heads for the cart corral out of instinct. To him, it’s a blip on his radar, a tiny gesture,but to me, he’s lifted a great burden. 

I remember when we first started shopping together, and I’d sheepishly ask him to push the cart for me. “It stresses me out,” I’d say. “It just makes me feel anxious.” This was back before we had learned anything about overstimulation and before I had begun any serious pursuit of therapy for anxiety. I had been embarrassed to ask. It had felt like such a silly thing to need extra help with, but he didn’t mind at all.

He just knew that pushing the shopping cart made me feel better, so he did it.

At the time, he was unaware that the small favor had brought me an incredible amount of relief. Having anxiety can feel loud. It can feel suffocating and overwhelming. Anxiety can get big, and at first, it may not seem like a small gesture could have a meaningful impact on such a huge feeling. However, what seems easy and simple to one person might seem impossible and terrifying to another, and helping out where a problem seems small is an excellent way to support each other.

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“What can I do to help?” my husband will ask when anxiety has the upper hand and it becomes hard for me to think, see, and breathe. At that moment, I can’t articulate “I am really glad that I don’t have to worry about where the shopping cart is right now,” but that is how I feel.

Because most trips to the store are uneventful, I do not usually get the chance to say, “Thank you for pushing the cart through that tight crowd of people so I could focus on my breathing.” But knowing he is there to support me gives me the peace of mind to actually relax and enjoy visits to the store. 

We listen and communicate about all of the little things. If popping open a can of tubed biscuits is too startling, I ask for help. If calling a business to check if they’re open is too overwhelming at the moment, I ask for help.

He provides support unconditionally and without judgment, and I have learned the immense value of a support system.

Because I feel so safe in my daily life, I have more energy to focus on my primary goals in therapy. My husband has taught me that there is nothing too ridiculous or tiny to need help with because relief for the little things adds up and provides much-needed comfort when anxiety begins to feel overwhelming.   

RELATED: Dear Husband, Sometimes I’m Drowning and I Can’t Ask For Your Help, But I Need It

My husband remembers what I need every time we go to the store. I never forget to thank him for pushing the cart, and I frequently remind him of how special it is to me. Since he pushes the cart, I can concentrate on calming my nerves if I need to. He’s my teammate and knowing that he has my back no matter what my anxiety might throw at me gives me confidence.

My husband pushes the shopping cart, and he is my hero.

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Shelby Peaugh

Shelby is from southern Indiana where she earned her bachelor's degree and met her husband of three years. She loves to relax by reading or hanging out with her pets. She's also very passionate about mental health awareness.

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