ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK

Anxiety is my tormentor, an insidious beast that loves to creep out from the darkest corners of my mind, causing immeasurable destruction in its wake and leaving me in damaged pieces. I’ve been stripped bare emotionally and drained of confidence on so many occasions that it’s hard to believe I’ll ever feel whole again. It’s a draining dance of one step forward, two steps back. Sometimes in my darkness hours, I recklessly wonder if I should continue. Luckily, these thoughts are rare, and my family keeps me grounded. 

This week has been hard. The beast reappeared bearing unwanted gifts – three to be exact. Three panic attacks that left me gasping like a fish out of water, unable to draw breaths deep enough to ease the screaming desperation of my mind and the burning of my lungs. Death by suffocation is a scary thought.

I suppose I should have anticipated these panic attacks. I’ve got too much on my plate and stressed to the max.

My brother’s wedding is in three weeks, and I’ve been playing arbitrator between my brother and our parents – there’s been a lot of in-house fighting. There’s been bruised egos, drama divas, shattered illusions and a heck of a lot of screaming.

I’ve worried about securing and undertaking 200 hours of professional placement, only to discover from the lecturer that I’m in the wrong course – an oversight by the enrolment officers and lecturer. I feel let down and unsupported by the university. Not sure what’s to happen now. 

I have a kinder meeting tomorrow about my four-year-old son and I’m praying that his teacher doesn’t give me negative feedback. I’m worried about my eight-year-old daughter and her issues at school. 

My mother-in-law has been having radiation therapy for cancer these last five weeks and we’ve supported her and my father-in-law with cooked meals and company. Seeing her unwell has made me feel emotional and I feel the worry emanating from my husband. 

I’m still on my stupid low-carb diet and losing weight but it won’t make a shred of difference for my confidence when I’m at my brother’s wedding and faced with snide or condescending remarks from an uncle or aunty. The possibility is real. And despite disowning my dad’s family two decades ago, I’m loathed to admit that I’ll probably crumble under their cruel comments.

Everyone has had a cold this week, and I’m still not fully recovered from mine. I’m not sleeping well as I keep waking throughout the night to check on the kids. The image of my four-year-old choking on his vomit still burns in my retina, and I haven’t quite dislodged those feelings of mother’s guilt.

It’s really no wonder that I started getting panic attacks. Strangely, I think not blogging/writing has added to the stress. I stopped blogging to relieve myself from the expectation of weekly posting and instead of helping, I took away the only outlet I had to vent and feel centred.

So I’m back but not really back back. And before anyone asks… I’m ok or at least I will be. This is a bump in the road, a blip on the radar in the grand scheme of things. So I guess I’ll keep doing this dance until it becomes two steps forward, one step back. Eventually I’ll get there.

Copyright © 2021, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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TIME HEALS OLD WOUNDS

When I was sixteen-years-old, I experienced a traumatic event. Instead of justice and support from the only person who knew about it – my mother – it was swept under the carpet and promptly forgotten. I won’t go into details of the trauma because reliving the moment isn’t what this post is about. It’s about the aftermath.

My mother never spoke about that day or even acknowledged something bad had happened to me. It never occurred to her that I would need or benefit from psychological treatment. Her lack of support and radio silence on the matter made me feel ashamed of myself. I was already a shy teenager with self-esteem issues and this trauma left me untrusting of others and disconnected to my peers.

The emotional trauma of the experience – the helplessness and fear – left long-lasting consequences that carried through into my adulthood.

I struggled to trust anyone and because of that, I refused to allow people in. I kept friends at an arm’s length. No one really knew me. Those who thought they did, saw the false façade I portrayed to the world.

People saw me as a confident, driven and outgoing girl but really, deep down I was a sad and broken person. I was steadfast in not letting anyone think I was a victim of circumstances. It was my way of hiding all the shame I felt inside.

A decade after that day, I finally got help at the behest of my husband. I sought psychological treatment, talked about the trauma and all the self-inflicted damage that resulted.

If it hadn’t been for my husband’s insistence, I would have likely continued on living but not really enjoying life. I would have struggled with unchecked depression and anxiety, continued to close myself off from family and friends and probably would have made for a dismal mother. Fortunately, I relearned how to trust again.

Last night, I had dinner with a girlfriend who has known me for twenty-two years. This person has known me since the day I arrived as a sixteen-year-old girl at her high school. While talking about the struggles her teenage son was experiencing, I told her about my trauma and how I wished my mother had stepped up and got me the help I needed back then. The story spilled from my mouth. I hadn’t thought twice about telling it.

She was shocked to discover a part of my life unknown to her. And to be honest, I was slightly shocked with how open and honest I was able to be about it.

At some point in my road to recovery, I had healed from the trauma. Unknowingly, I released myself from the shackles of shame and embarrassment. I no longer felt like a victim.

Time has healed some of these wounds but I think more importantly, having a safe space where I could talk to a trusted person helped immensely. I’m glad I accepted the help. I only wish I had done it sooner.

Is there something that’s weighing you down? Could you find the courage to reach out for help? It may be the turning point in your life, the step towards positive change. You’ll never know otherwise.

Copyright © 2021, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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MY STRUGGLE WITH SMALL TALK

Do you find it hard to partake in small talk? Does it make you feel anxious? Or do you have the gift of the gab?

There are so many factors required to have a successful conversation with another person.

  • Using exact words to effectively express your thoughts
  • Understanding body language and its nuances
  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Finding a balance between listening and speaking
  • Showing an interest in the person and what they have to say
  • Offering interesting topic threads
  • Remembering to relax
  • Smile

If you suffer from social anxiety, being thrust into situations where you must engage in conversation can be scary. It might feel easier to avoid it altogether.

So why do I force myself to engage in conversation?

I recognise that to communicate and engage with others means social interaction. It means forging new relationships and strengthening others. It means developing my sense of self and belonging.

Ultimately, I don’t want my life to be consumed by my anxiety. I won’t allow it to tear me down. Therefore, I must engage.


Butcher: “Hello there!”

Me: “Hi.”

Butcher: “How can I help? What would you like?”

Oh my God, I don’t know. Sh?t, I better hurry! Sh?t, how do you say that word ’enchiladas’?

Me: “Um. Six en-chill-a-dars please?”

Butcher: “My wife just took one of these last night and upped to Mildura.”

What? What did he just say? Am I supposed to reply? I just want to tick dinner off my list.

Me: “Oh. That’s a long way.”

Butcher: “She loves them. Drove after work last night and got there this morning.”

Okay, I think I’m supposed to say something here. Fudge if I know. Why is he telling me this? Breathe. Relax. You can do this. It’s just a conversation. Be normal.

Me: “Yeah, she must love them to drive that far.”

Did he mean she loves enchiladas? Is six enough for dinner?

Butcher: “My daughter lives up there and had her baby last night.”

How long does it take to wrap these enchiladas?! I can feel my anxiety levels rising. This conversation is hurting my mind. New baby. Ok, so remember to congratulate him.

Me: “My husband loves your enchiladas.”

Butcher: “Thanks. My wife’s already saying she wants to come back.”

You seem like a really nice dude and I’m really glad you’re chatting to me but I suck at this and I feel awkward. Please have mercy on me!

Me: “My husband loves your enchiladas.”

Fudge! That’s not what I meant to say. I forgot the congratulations.

Butcher: “Uh, thanks?”

Me: “Um, congratulations?”

Oh my gosh! He did say his daughter, right? He looks young. I hope I haven’t misheard. This conversation is going downhill. Abort! Abort!

Butcher: “It’s my third grandkid. Here you are.”

Oh thank goodness.

Me: “Thanks. Have a great day.”

I need to get out of here.

Butcher: “You haven’t paid yet.”

Me: “You too. I mean, sorry I haven’t.”

Did I just say that? How embarrassing! I hope the next butcher isn’t as talkative.


Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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