For the past few weeks I have been living and working in a place within Victoria. It was a spontaneous decision. I had 5 weeks to spare and decided it would be better to work during those 5 weeks than to travel around and spend money (which I couldn’t afford to do). So I messaged a friend and she found me a harness racing yard that would hire me for the 5 weeks. I was given the bosses number to call and speak to him about the work.
Well…my anxiety hates phone calls. Hates them. I was so nervous. At the time I was in Melbourne and I was given his number in the morning but I went on an all day tour and I knew it would be better to speak to him as early as possible. So as soon as my tour finished I went into this shopping centre and began to prepare myself for this phone call. I was frantically messaging my friend asking her what I should say, how I should start the call off and what not. I was anxious. My belly was tied into several knots, I was trying my hardest not to sweat (as it is winter here) and I tried to remain calm. I rang him…no answer, but the fear of making the call wasn’t as bad now. I gave it a few minutes and called him again. This time he answered. We chatted for a few minutes, we got a long pretty well and he was possibly the nicest boss I had spoken to. We came up with an agreement and I was starting work in a few days’ time.
My friend helped me organise my train tickets and when my Melbourne trip came to an end I took a 3 hour train journey to Terang. I was a nervous wreck. I sat down and was very visibly sweating. It didn’t help that Melbourne train station is absolutely huge, has several platforms and there was no clear indication of where my train was leaving from and for someone with anxiety and a fear of public transport (however I am nowhere near as bad as what I used to be) I found it pretty stressful which resulted in a rise in my body temperature and heart rate. I tried to relax but about 2 hours into the train journey I realised that I had completely ripped up my train ticket, my receipt and chewed one of my pen lids to pieces (I dread to think what the guy opposite me must have thought). I was on edge. I gathered up all the tiny, ripped up pieces of paper I was sat in, dumped them in my bag and quickly walked through the aisle to the toilet. I could feel my heart racing, the sweat was starting to show again, I was going into panic mode. The fear of going somewhere completely unknown, I was unprepared, I had no experience with harness horses, I had no idea what would happen once I got off the train, didn’t know anybody I would be working with, if things went wrong I was stranded, I was 100% going into the unknown and it terrified me. I messaged my friend and she helped me calm down and helped me compose a message to send to my boss. He ended up ringing me and told me there would be someone there to pick me when my train arrived. It was something. It was some sort of reassurance that I wasn’t going to be completely stranded in the middle of nowhere. I felt shit loads better.
I got settled in and within my first few days I realised that I was being 100% myself around my work colleagues. Something I have never ever been before. It was weird. I spoke about it to one of my colleagues and he asked me why I was so comfortable and honestly, I think it was because I didn’t have any persona to live up to. Not one single person had heard about me or even knew the person that I used to be.
My first 6 months in Australia were spent working at a stud yard. I found out about this place through a friend from college called A who works there. I thought that my move to Australia would allow me to leave everything in my past but I was wrong. I arrived at the yard and I knew that A had spoken about me to fellow staff members which isn’t a bad thing but it then made me hold back from being 100% myself. A had known me since college which means he knew the old Emma (like the real old Emma) and I wouldn’t say I ever let her fully return whilst I was there but there were times where she appeared (like when I started drinking more alcohol). I never felt like I could 100% be myself and I think this made a big impact on my anxiety.
When I started working at this harness yard I was just myself and it was easy to be me. There wasn’t anything that I said or did that wasn’t coming from me. Like the actual me, not one of these fucking personas. I could say or do whatever I wanted and not have to worry about the reaction. There’s a new level of freedom I am feeling at the moment and I’m interested to see what might happen in the future.
I used to have so many personas that would appear around different people and there are still a couple that hang around depending on who I am with (but I try and keep my social circle tight and small) but for me now there is a clear indication that I am nothing like the person I used to be before I went through my counselling. Nothing at all. I refer to this person as the old Emma. To me she is a separate person (at least that’s what it feels like). She was someone who was so negative and in so much pain that most of the time she didn’t realise it. She didn’t realise that her excessive drinking was to either release built up emotions or to try and fit in with other peers. She didn’t realise that the reason she was sleeping so much was because the depression was draining her.
Counselling helped me realise a lot and I know that if I had still refused to get professional help then I still wouldn’t be able to love/appreciate myself, to properly look after myself or to even put myself first. When I was going through my counselling, I was told by a few people that I wouldn’t be the same person at the end which was obvious. It was scary but obvious. I didn’t know who I would be. Then when I finished my counselling I had to figure out who I was. I had to get to know myself. All these habits, thoughts, feelings, opinions and what not were different. Almost everything about you changes and although others may not notice your changes as much as you do, you know yourself you are nowhere near the person you used to be.
I’ve got another week left working here before I head to Adelaide with a friend but I feel like I have taken a huge step towards getting to know the real Emma which is a huge discovery for me. The experience here has been challenging but I’m so so glad I came here. It’s been a memorable moment in my journey and a milestone I have finally reached. For me, it will be interesting to see if I am able to keep my anxiety at bay and remain true to myself in the future…we shall see!
Thank you for reading,
Sending my love,