Thursday, April 18, 2013


There is a quote by Maya Angelou which goes “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.” I’ve actually fought believing this and am now realizing it is true.

Now I can hear you all starting in on how we can all change and how individuals work each day to improve themselves. Never give up on someone or lose your trust in them as that’s when they need it most.

This too is true.

I know, sounds like I’m fence sitting, but give me a few more moments of your time to explain.

There is another phrasing about making first impressions and how these stick with us more…no, the truth right now is I’m skirting around the edges. I’m hiding behind an old fear of worrying about what someone might think…or if they’d wonder I’m talking about them.

From kindergarten to my early thirties I spent far more time and energy worrying over what others thought, felt, believed. I allowed my demon to dictate who I was by what others wanted from me. In my early thirties some part of my psyche decided it had had enough and a physical, mental, and emotional revolt was fought within me.

I won.

Social Anxiety, or as it was called twenty years ago, Social Phobia, is a very real and very complex mental issue…disorder…wiring…illness…challenge. My brain’s wiring loved the all or nothing path. It had an affair with the myth that everyone else’s perception was right while its own…mine…had to be wrong.

Sure, we’re all insecure at some point in our lives, in some area of our lives, now take your insecurity and multiple it till it’s more dangerous than K2 or Mount Fitz Roy. Heck, what my fear was allowed to do, I’d rather climb either of those mountains.

The only escape, the only safety I had from my fear was writing. Writing is where I lived. Where I was 100% free to be me. Yes, even in the comfort and safety of my family, writing is where I felt the most relaxed, the most accepted.

Writing is where I accepted me.

One day during that period of hell my fear learned to fear my writing. It knew if I was allowed to write it was doomed.

There’s a darkness here I flashed by, others haven’t been so lucky.

I was in therapy re-teaching my brain or as my daughter would say…creating new brain paths...and on a very low dosage of Zoloft. Just enough to take me off the edge, but still recognize my fear and old habits.

It was the beginning of a week where I was attempting to go back to work…forgive me if you’ve heard this before, I honestly can’t remember if I’ve shared this full tale or not…I had worked up to this moment and as I knew I would, I woke up way too early with that scared stomach. So, I did my deep breathing. I talked myself down and decided a bath would calm me.

Okay, there I am in the bath…you’ll understand why it’s important for such detail…and my fear-demon is still yanking on its chain and screaming through my body. I called for my husband so we could talk the fear down.

Here I am in the bathtub with hubby sitting on the floor just outside the open bathroom door…smallish bathroom. And my voice won’t work. I literally felt my vocal chords freezing…can feel them right now just by writing this.

No, I could not talk no matter how much I tried.

That’s fine, I can get past this. Now I’m playing charades with my hubby…get me pen and paper. However, as I tried to talk it came out…paaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnn paaaaaaaahhhhhhhppppr.

Here’s the added nonsense that morning…our cat, Psycho decided to walk into the bathroom and rub up against the tub. I had vision of her falling into the tub with me. Yes, even in hell there’s humour to be found.

Hubby, darling that he is, gave me the pen and paper. My entire right side, I’m right-handed, froze. Oops, I missed the part where I tried talking to the cat when talking with hubby didn’t work…nope and poor Psycho didn’t do charades well.

Back to not being able to write. Couldn’t move. For once in my life my ability to write…no, scratch that…my physical ability to hold a pen and command it to write failed.

The demon was winning.

I had hubby call my mom…we lived around the corner from each other. As he went downstairs to let her in this flashed into my mind…

…maybe I should just slide down under the water and end the pain…the pain I was causing my family…

Yes, for a split second I was contemplating suicide.

Thankfully it was quickly followed by “WTF are you thinking!”

I know there will be some…back to Ms. Angelou’s quote at the beginning…who will believe I write this for attention only.


This month MuseItUp Publishing is talking awareness. My awareness isn’t about social anxiety. It’s not about personal demons and why writers, this writer, writes.

Heck, it’s not even about suicide.

And believe it or not, I had no clue what I was going to write until these words poured out.

I would like all who are reading this to just be aware. Be aware of the person beside you, the person you walk by, the person you believe to be who they are currently presenting themselves as.

There’s more to us all than meets our eyes, experience, our totality.

Thank you.

Christine I Speakman (Steeves) aka ChrisChat


John B. Rosenman said...

Chris, well done. Some of the best blogs, stories, what-have-you are those that just flow and which you don't know what you intend to do until you've done it. Yes, be aware of the person next to you. Their public face may differ from their real one, and they may not themselves know their real one. How many of us know who we really are? Our deepest nature or deepest trouble? For you it came to a head in your bathtub. Love the name of your cat.

ChrisChat said...

Thanks, John.

Little on the side note, but my parents had a story framed that always hung in our downstairs hallway. Title/story...THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD GOES's about a man who complained about having no shoes until he met a man with no feet.

Now, I'm not what I would consider a religious person, what grabbed me about this plaque, all my life, was the sense of what we have and then becoming aware of what's around us.

I know my quiet...maybe considered cold...personality is due to my internal insecurity. This also touches on the freedom the internet provides, I'm not judging myself as I type.

Ahh, my lovely Psycho. She was not a cuddlier. She was not much of a people cat. She had to be around visitors and she would take petting. But she was aloof, except with me.

During this hell period, she spent 3 hours on my lap one night. Just sat at my feet until I picked her up and never moved until hubby came home.

Psycho became her name the first morning of her being with us. Hubby was playing with her...triangle of hubby, her, scratching post...with me she jumped to the scratching post. With hubby, she looked and body was directed to scratching post, but she jumped sideways and clung to hubby's thigh.

Psycho was the most vocal in her carrying would think we had a pet lion. Longer story is when we went to pick her up and she tried escaping before we got there...jumping 3x her length to do so.

Psycho who stuck her tongue out as we and our vet said goodbye to her.

Hmmm, I've rambled away again :)

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

What a touching story, Chris. Thanks for sharing it with us. I think writing down our thoughts, our pains, our insecurities is liberating. Perhaps admitting to our insecurities, our problems helps. I know the poem you mention in your comment and think of it when I start feeling sorry for myself. All I have to do is look around and see so many people in need. There but for the grace of God.

Have a lovely weekend.

John B. Rosenman said...

Chris, that plaque is pretty familiar and fits in with what you were saying about being aware of others and appreciating their differences as well as being thankful for the blessings you have which they don't. Internal insecurities . . . so many of us have them and have them even on the Internet. We're judged as cold when we're just shy or something else. Sometimes I even hate it when the phone rings. Don't bring any problems into my world or complicate my life. Don't you dare try to sell me something. Lordy, I know you love cats and you do love your cat in particular because you talk about him or her so much. 'Matter of fact, you're, uh, downright psychotic on the subject. :)

ChrisChat said...

Thanks, Beverly. It is liberating and helps to empty the well of the fear. And sometimes a light bulb will turn on, for me :)

LOL...John, are you calling me psychotic LOL. Yeah, it fits...sometimes LOL

Yup, yup, and yup, completely hear you and have felt the same thing.

Being judged and locked into a role/being that you know isn't who you are, well it's downright frustrating. Plus it makes it an uphill battle...for even want to be around those who do. Most of the time this happens with those who are not aware of themselves.

Okay, have to go see what Cody the cat is doing ;)

Hugs everyone