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Retail Social Anxiety? Relaxation Not So Relaxing

I had no idea how to title this post. What my daughter wanted for her birthday, was for her and I to have a “girl’s day” and go shopping, have lunch and…get our nails done. We did this Sunday. I had hoped to skate by with just getting her a manicure but no…the two of us ended up getting “spa pedicures” and manicures. Perhaps I am the only one, but I did not find this at all relaxing. I just wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible and get out.

I have a lot of social anxiety; even a visit with my husband’s family is incredibly stressful for me (even knowing that a visit is coming up in months/weeks is enough to give me heart palpatations.) I have a very difficult time when I can’t understand what someone is saying to me, either because they are speaking too quickly, too quietly, or have a thick accent. I tend to say “what” or “excuse me” twice before I give up and just smile, nod or say “oh.” This gets me into trouble and usually leaves me feeling an inch tall. I don’t go to Chipotle anymore because I am not able to actually order and get what I want, and I’m typically near tears by the time I get through the line (yes, dumb I know.)

So anyway, at the nail salon, since I’ve only gone to one a few times ever, I wasn’t versed in where to go when, picking a color etc. I am so afraid to speak up that I tolerated the nearly scalding water in the basin (my feet were red when I took them out), a “hot stone massage” that was closer to torture, and an antsy, whiny 8 year old sitting while I got a manicure I’d just as soon not have.

I feel like a complete jerk saying “I don’t understand what you’re saying” so I ended up not only with a manicure, but a “shellac” manicure, which was incredibly thick and heaped over my cuticles/the edge of my nails. I gathered that it was supposed to last longer, and when I asked if it off comes with nail polish remover, I only caught “3 weeks” and “next time.” To be honest with you, I didn’t care. I just really, really wanted to pay and get out of there. I’m not saying how much it cost because it was a little obscene, but I knew going in that it would be that way. It wasn’t about the nails, it was about the “girl time” and making my daughter feel special for her birthday. So when the nail person asked me if they looked good, I just nodded and smiled.

I warned her that the polish wouldn’t last long, but she was still disappointed that it was chipping off the very next day. She said “next time” (*dies* please no) she wants to get the stuff like mine.

OK so it was all I could do not to take the stuff off the very next day, but I resisted, only trying to get it off my cuticles. By Wednesday (today as I write), I couldn’t stand it being heaped over the side of my nails anymore, and tried to chip it off. I guess because it was over the edge of my nails, water got underneath some of them, so big chunks lifted off. I grabbed some nail polish remover & cotton balls and…Googled “how to remove shellac manicures.” *sigh* The stuff easily peeled off my nails near the cuticle, but I guess it is better adhered to the ends of my nails because it isn’t coming off. I guess I am going to have to go to the drugstore to get acetone with half painted nails. Bah.

I realize it is my own fault and I need to learn to speak up, but for me it is easier to just avoid situations like this. I panic, I can’t breathe, my heart pounds, I feel dizzy, and I have to struggle not to cry. Relaxing. Not. My hubby has a membership to a massage/spa place and mentioned that he can pay a fee to transfer a massage to me. I made a joke about them not wanting to see my post-baby body but really, the idea terrifies me. Hubby and I had massages together years ago and I was completely tense the entire time, like more tense than before, LOL. I just couldn’t wait for it to be over.

I wish I wasn’t like this. I want to be able to spend time with my daughter and do the things she likes. I’m sure I could ask my mother-in-law to take her the next time they are up visiting, but then part of me would feel jealous that she would be doing that with my daughter instead of me being there. So dumb I know! Gah!

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Maria is an aspiring "fit mom" of 3 children, writing about cloth diapers, going green, and her life as a single mom. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development, and other services.
  • March 2, 2013 at 9:01 am

    It’s not dumb. It’s just honest and how you feel. *hugs*

  • Julie
    March 1, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    I have a bit of this too sometimes. It used to be much worse before but not quite as bad as what you deal with. I used to just pay for stuff I didn’t like or let people sell me things I didn’t want too. Right now I’m at the point where I still don’t like going out a whole lot. If I anticipate any trouble while I’m out I usually find an excuse not to go. If I have an appointment or regular meeting I absolutely have to attend I procrastinate and stress about it most of the day. At this point in time I still try to get out because I know that once I’m out and especially once I’ve gotten back I feel better for having done it but I have gone through periods of time where it’s not really worth it to me. I try to use natural remedies when I know my stress level is getting too high in general: Magnesium, specifically a brand called Natural Calm helps. There’s also something called Rescue Remedy that helps take the edge off. I’m sorry you’re going through this.

  • Ashley
    February 28, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Thank you for sharing!!
    I hate going places alone and places where I will have to stay for a little while without getting up and pacing like in restaurants, doctors offices, movie theaters, etc… My heart races, I feel like I am going to faint, and sweat the entire time. I think it all started when I was getting bullied at work. 🙁 How I didn’t recognize it at the time, I don’t know. I do try to push my limits, because I don’t want to feel trapped, but it is hard.

  • Caitlin
    February 27, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    I have terrible social anxiety as well. I completely understand how you were feeling because I’ve been there a million times! It’s really a terrible thing! I went to the doctor for anxiety medication because mine was so bad! I never wanted to leave the house!

  • February 27, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    but of course can’t afford therapy and try breastfeeding or wanting to be pregnant. meds are pretty much an automatic no, and even if they’re not, I’d rather stay home then possibly poison a fetus. 🙁

    • February 27, 2013 at 6:10 pm

      *hugs* to you Jill. Talk to your doctor, there are meds that are safe for pregnancy & breastfeeding. Therapy is not only the cost, but who is going to watch the kids while you go? DH made the point that before we spent the time/$ on marriage counseling, we’d be better off to get a babysitter and get some “us” time, since that’s what we really need!

      • Allison
        January 7, 2016 at 9:56 am

        I completely understand, dear. Most def. the part about not being able to understand people’s tone of voice or accent. It’s awkward and embarrassing whenever this happens, especially in a professional setting. Unfortunately it’s mostly Asians or African Americans I cannot understand..which makes it even worse because I don’t want to seem racist or rude towards anybody. You are not alone. I love getting my nails done at salons mainly because I am unable to paint my own nails and my SA includes nail picking so I have a lot of dead skin on my cuticles. Of course the nail specialists always make a point to ask me why my nails are so short, you shouldn’t bite your nails,!blah blah…as if they’re scolding me or something. Same with the dentist. I have a high PH level in my mouth, which results in plaque building up much faster than usual. I have to go every few months instead on every six. The dentist always makes a point to tell me with my kind of mouth to floss, don’t drink tea..etc. like I know you are my dentist, but it makes me feel really pressured you know? I hear this every time! Like just let me move on with my life, geez! Anyways, thank you for this post. You seem like a wonderful mom, despite all the obstacles!

  • February 27, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    this is so me. I can’t even make phone calls to restaurants to order food. seriously. I tried to walk into an unfamiliar place the other day and couldn’t do it. I almost was sick, and felt like I was going to hyperventilate. that happened one other time after I took a college final. panic attack. fabulous. not.

    I don’t think my husband understands how serious this is. It has only gotten REALLY bad since my accident a year ago. I’m terrified to drive and that has led to a fear of new/unfamiliar places, etc.

    • February 27, 2013 at 6:09 pm

      Yes! <3

  • Kelly
    February 27, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Thank you for being so honest about your feelings. I know it’s not easy. I can really relate to all the feelings you talked about above. I too suffer from some sort of social anxiety which causes me to sweat in my clothes when I talk to people about normal every day things. I just hate it. And when I sense the sweating coming on I tend to really concentrate on what I’m saying to the other person which causes some stuttering. It’s pretty ridiculous. I have two kids and noticed the anxiety increasing after the birth of my daughter who is now 4 months old. I plan on seeing my general practitioner since this is just getting out of control. Anyway, thank you again for sharing and just know that you aren’t alone!

    • February 27, 2013 at 12:41 pm

      I’m pretty sure that other parents at preschool think I’m a snob because I rarely talk to anyone. Playdates? Major anxiety. Even if I end up having a good time, then I over analyze afterwards and I’m afraid I said/did something stupid. Thanks for sharing your experiences. *hugs*

      • Kelly
        February 27, 2013 at 12:48 pm

        Ha! That totally sounds like me! I’ve been told I make other people nervous because of my own anxiety issues! lol! Have a good one!

      • jenna b
        February 27, 2013 at 5:27 pm

        you are not alone, lady!

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