My anxiety speaks and this is what it says
“No one is going to believe you. You’re the girl who cried wolf.”
There he goes again in my ear. Is he right?
He’s right. No one will believe me. They will think I’m mad. They will say I’m exaggerating. That I’m being dramatic.
You’ve never met Sam but he’s always with me. We’re inseparable.
Sam doesn’t like my friends. He says they don’t understand. He thinks they’ll laugh at me. That they’ll throw their eyes up if I try to tell them.
Is he right?
I woke up this morning, startled by a horrible dream. I was crying and running. From what – I’m not sure, but I was scared. Reality hit when the sound of my alarm interrupted my train of thought.
I don’t really want to go to college today, I’m not up to it.
“You’re right”, says Sam, “How could you face all the girls, trying to concentrate in lectures whilst trying to explain that your eyes are so red because you stayed up late watching Netflix- instead of telling the truth.”
I crawl back into bed.
I’ve been telling Sam how excited I am for this job interview I have this week, it’s with a huge company and they hardly ever take anyone on, so when the opening came up, I jumped on it. It’s one step closer to my dream job, it’s a foot in the door. Such an amazing opportunity. Sam knows all about it.
“I don’t know. I think you’re aiming a little high. I mean, be realistic?” she says.
“I just don’t think you should get your hopes up – there’ll be a lot expected of you, I’m not sure if you’re up to the task?”
“The boss is going to grill you in the interview, just so you know. And you know how you are with interviews. What would you do if you did get the job and had an attack? They’d think you’re crazy. Shaking there in the office for no reason. They’d wonder what the hell is wrong with the new girl? Why is she choking and crying like a freak?”
Maybe Sam’s right.
I thought back to that night. I could feel my throat closing in, like someone had a grip around me but there was no one there. I clenched the ground as my heart pumped incessantly I tried to calm myself
Breathe in… and out… in… and…
I couldn’t catch my breath, the more I tried, the more uncontrollable it became.
Tears flowed. What was happening? What is this? When did this begin?
How could I take a job with the possibility of that happening at any time?
Maybe Sam is right.
I met my friends for dinner, It’s been ages since we’ve had a good catch up. I put on my strongest red lipstick, it made me feel good. It’s called dangerous. Sam thinks it makes me look like a slut. There’s a knock at the door and I’m practically trampled with hugs and killer heels bursting through my door.
“It’s been forever!”
“I know,” I said. “I’ve just been so busy with college and study.” If only they knew I was failing half of my modules.
I had a pain in my belly from laughing, I heard that’s the best medicine. The girls have been travelling, partying, doing internships, falling in love since we finished college for summer break.. I’m immersed in their stories, their adventures, and every detail of their romances.
“It’s time to go now” Sam whispers in my ear.
“See how happy they are without you?”
“Don’t you understand? No one even asked what you got up to this summer, they only care about themselves. Imagine how ashamed of you they would be if they knew what you were really up to. Imagine if they knew that you’re so disgusting you don’t even shower in the morning and get dressed. You just sit there in bed for half of the day.”
“What would they think if they knew you failed your final exams? They would think you’re stupid. Who are you fooling, going out there acting like a normal teenager drinking vodka and laughing at all their stupid jokes.”
I climbed into bed and tried to sleep.
My mom asked me to go to the shop and buy a pack of cigarettes. I don’t even smoke. The cashier is going to know I don’t smoke because I look like a child. What if he asks me for I.D? What if I mess up the name? What are they called again? I don’t even know if I have enough money.
I’m frantically counting through my coins again just to be sure. It’s hard to multitask reciting the brand name and adding up 50 cents at the one time.
“Why are you so stupid, how hard is it?”
I’m getting pretty sick of him lately, following me around everywhere.
I always jump up when I hear a noise outside my window.
I always plug out everything in case there’s a fire.
I get on the bus to college and everyone is staring at me.
Is there something on my face?
Is it the way I’m dressed?
I’m best off just eating lunch alone after class, I can’t have them knowing I don’t have any money to buy Starbucks. They’ll just laugh at me. Sam reckons I’m better off not getting too close to them anyway, then they might figure out the truth.
I mean, I’ve tried to tell Sam that they’re nice girls. I’ve tried to tell Sam that they won’t mind if I drink the tea from my flask while we’re chatting away. I’ve tried to explain that people don’t think I’m weird. I’m just like everybody else.
He doesn’t believe me though.
I’m beginning to see Sam doesn’t really have my best interest at heart – even though he swears he’s just trying to protect me. I don’t think protecting someone is wrapping them in bubble wrap away from the world. It’s not hiding in fear tucked away in my room where people can’t quiz me.
Maybe I should just ignore Sam and put on those new skinny jeans I’ve been dying to wear. I have a killer leather jacket to go with them. I could do my make-up and curl my hair like I used to, and maybe post a cute picture on Facebook. I don’t think people will think I’m an attention seeker.
I dream about Sam every night - that’s when I’m running.
Sam is there in my dream, laughing at me. I think he’s trying to scare me.
“You’re nothing without me,” he says. “You’ll never last on your own out there. The world is a big scary place and you’re just a nobody.”
“Who even are you?”
I’m a young girl with my whole life ahead of me. I’m smart. Intelligent. I’m outgoing. I’m hard-working. I’m capable. I’m ambitious. I’m determined.
I love proving people wrong, so that’s where Sam messed up.
Sam messed up when he tried to tell me that I wasn’t good enough. That I couldn’t be what I wanted to be. That I would never get the push I needed to start, progress and pursue my dream.
Maybe it’s time I show Sam that walking into the shop and buying cigarettes isn’t all bad, or that no one is going to judge me for being broke, and that there are a hell of a lot of people out there who truly care about me.
It’s taken a long time to realise that, because I’ve been so busy living with my thoughts that I was blinded to what was right in front of me.
I know Sam won’t understand. I almost feel sorry for him because he’s just so nervous.
But I’ve got to take the first step. I can’t keep hiding him from everyone. We’re not helping each other by hiding, we’re just making things worse. I know there’s people out there that will get him, you know?
I think once people know Sam’s there, they might help me talk to him.
This piece was sent to us by reader Jennifer Purcell. Jennifer blogs regularly at justjenblog.com. If you have a story you would like to be considered for publication please get in touch with Cassie.Delaney@Her.ie