No Calls, Please!

What It's Like to Be Afraid of Talking on the Phone | The Mighty

What is wrong with me? A typical phrase I have asked myself all my life. Not knowing until I went to counseling and she pinpointed this was shame. All my life, all this time I have lived with shame in one way or another. It makes me sick, more ways than one. As hard as it is to realize this was the cause of so many issues, I still struggle. I’m old.

I am just years from retirement although I do not plan to retire if I can help it. I like working and what I do. If I fall over dead out of my chair, I completed my job. As long as my mind and my body holds out and I can manage the office and keep it running in tip-top shape, I will do so.

Even though, I am near to filling out Medicare paperwork, it means that I have been at this type of position for a long, long time. I have always been in a position of secretary aka office administrator, office manager, legal assistant, etc. I know I can do this and do it well, with years of experience under my belt. I find it fun to organize, to do excel charts is my favorite or whatever else to make the office perform at its best and to make the boss look good. What I do not like are the telephone calls, either receiving or making them.

Phone Avoidance And Avoiding Answering The Door | Avoidant Personality

Now, how could I have managed to do this job for many years but fail in this area? I often wonder myself. I really have to be ready and organized to get the call made, feel confident. It does not come automatic. To answer the phone, I panic within.

Many will never know this of me but I know.

I have managed but I have noticed, too, the older I get, it is worse. Perhaps having an assistant for years to answer the phone and then to transfer to me, knowing who it is and why they are calling, does help. Through this pandemic, I don’t have my assistant. Plus, I had some dental work in January and had a flipper to fill in a missing tooth while healing and managing through the pandemic of my dental office closed. I really had some anxiety of a lisp or actually choking from panic. Even with my new crown, I still suffer from this ordeal. Once I get through the answering or calling, I am fine to talk but I am too old for this. No matter what age, we all have issues and perhaps panic attacks of different situations.

Knowing I dealt with this and knowing, although minor, years ago, I mentioned to my counselor. We did not go indepth of this but a time or two she requested that I call her, perhaps for a scheduling issue, etc. Once I told her no I will not call. I did not want to hear she was rescheduling, I could read it but not hear her, I would be emotional. I would have felt rejected and abandoned. In reading her text, I could feel the same but the silent tears would flow and she would not hear my voice crack from sadness. If I can put off answering or calling, I will.

We have a landline still in our home due to my husband’s work. We had a phone on the main floor and the lower level, his office. I removed the main floor telephone, it is in the cabinet. If you know me well enough, you have my cell phone number and can contact me with that, preferably by text.

It was yesterday, I gave no thought to calling my son, although I texted several times. We were to get together and for me to hang curtains in his new house. My texts were not being replied to and I just could not grasp why. I found myself frustrated with him. I love him to death but why can he not reply was in the back of my mind. Time was getting late and even if he was asleep, normally he would reply, as I know his cell phone is right next to him. Anyway, no curtains were hung.

We went on home, I was done. Stick a fork in me. This child of mine is a nightowl so I know his sleep pattern is all over the place. Once I got home, an hour away, he texted. Asking in a text, why I did not just call him. It was from that question, this blog was born even though I have always wondered why I had such a hate of telephones. I enjoy talking to him and I do not know why I did not think to just call. My husband, with me, did not even suggest or try, which is no surprise. What is wrong with me, again? I missed my son. I felt like such a failure of a mom.

My conclusion was of being rejected, being an annoyance and in the end feeling abandoned. Growing up, I felt that from many occasions so I gave up trying to call others. Not calling or putting forth an effort brought loneliness but I did not like the other feeling much more. I hate telephones.

Perhaps he needs to know about his mom and that she also has anxiety and it will help him understand me. My boys know that my cell phone is open for them to call 24/7 if they need me. When it does ring, I do gulp and wonder if anything is wrong. Fear. I hate that. Usually no issue, thankfully. A relief will come and we continue to talk and I enjoy, sometimes for an hour.

What is funny, while writing this, my sister calls me and she lives hours away, her husband and my brother-in-law has Cancer so I immediately answer and I could not tell if she was crying or laughing. My heart stopped, afraid of bad news. Thankfully, she was laughing as she hit the wrong button. Was it an accident or just to prove my point of fear and anxiety? I survived. They both are doing fine. Relief!

I would never survive in telephone sales. I do love to hear from others and I enjoy talking to our clients that call at the office and I will help them as much as possible and they know that of me. It is just an area in my life that I struggle with and have and probably always will. I found it interesting that there is such a thing of a telephone phobia so I am not the only one. With the information below, I can understand a little more of why I deal with such and perhaps another will also, as it is such a thing for some.

What causes phone phobia?

While performance anxiety is the most common reason for telephone phobia, some people may also develop an irrational fear of telephones because of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD causes the suffer to avoid triggering situations and events, which bring back memories of a past trauma. These include: Full blown panic or anxiety attack. Feeling terror.  

What happened to you if you have Telephonophobia?

Telephonophobia can lead to a variety of physical and mental symptoms both at the thought of making a phone call or receiving one. These include: Full blown panic or anxiety attack. Feeling terror.

Why do I have social anxiety?

People who have an overactive amygdala may have a heightened fear response, causing increased anxiety in social situations. Environment. Social anxiety disorder may be a learned behavior — some people may develop the condition after an unpleasant or embarrassing social situation.

How do I get over my phobia of phone calls? Coping Strategies

  1. Smile. Before making and receiving calls, put a smile on your face. …
  2. Reward yourself. …
  3. Visualize success. …
  4. Ascertain availability. …
  5. Don’t overthink it. …
  6. Prepare. …
  7. Let it go to voicemail. …
  8. Try another communication method.
You will reject me, so I will not call.
I will annoy you, so I will not call.

https://www.verywellmind.com/afraid-making-phone-calls-tips-3024317

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7)

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-zesty-self/200905/what-we-get-wrong-about-shame

No Bounce Back

2021 Happy New Year!

I am such a party animal, on New Years Eve I was in bed at 10:30 p.m. No party, no celebration, no nothing, nothing out of the ordinary, year after year. The house was quiet as a mouse. As I awakened, hearing the neighbors shooting off fireworks, I knew we were in 2021, and I rolled over and mumbled Happy New Year to the cat.

As I laid there thinking while trying to fall back asleep, knowing many go out and celebrate, ringing in the New Year, which has been a blur but remembrances of loneliness through the many years remain. For whatever reason, my mind went back many years ago of my counselor trying to get me to open up and talk through the depressed state I was exhibiting.

I could see her, telling me and showing that conversation is back and forth, like passing a ball back and forth, a beach ball was her visual. It takes at least two people to pass the ball back and forth, it’s more fun. As I pondered the years feeling alone, to remember that I love to slow dance but it’s hard with just one. I love to laugh and have fun, but it is impossible when he is humdrum. I’m not one to go out, drink and party whether it be a New Years Eve celebration, etc., but every once in awhile, just to have fun, as there is none. The seriousness in this man under the same roof is as dry as a desert in the hot sun. My exhaustion level increases if I even try to say something, all I get each and every time is a ‘What?’ It takes him time to process what I say whether a word, sentence or comment. I believe this is normal of having Aspergers, I get it. Understanding Aspergers more, I find it best to remain quiet and that’s no fun. I don’t have it in me anymore to bounce the ball after all of these years.

Slowly through the years, I am making and have made some changes and moving along when years ago, I saw no hope to do so. I felt stuck. My counselor and I would discuss issues to solve in order to move forward, and I would hopelessly reply to her that it cannot be done and I don’t know how. Now, almost four to five years later what we discussed is now complete. A miracle. I moved onto the next area, which was conquered, too. Progress was being made but I again am at a huge wall where I say I cannot do this, I don’t know how.

What I do know is to wait, ‘Be Still… and know that I am God.’ This verse is placed in front of me to see and read wherever I turn, whether at home or at work.

Today I have more hope and faith to prove in time I will know what and when to push through the wall that is blocking me now. I will have yet another but this one is huge. As I stated before, I know to take one task at a time and one day at a time. Often praying as in the past, ‘Lord I have to trust you. I don’t know how to do (whatever it is hindering me) but You will open doors and make a way when it is time.’ I’m not giving up and just die although it has certainly felt as if I would before going through this valley of death. I’m going through!

Again and again over the years, I would say, ‘Lord, surely the rest of my life will not be this way. There has to be more.’ I do know that timing is everything, even when I feel the clock has stopped and I am stuck once again. I know to be patient and hold on as soon the way forward will come about and I will see it done, as before. Just like that. His power, not mine. I stand in amazement, my faith increases and I become stronger within.

I may not have a partner to bounce the ball back to me, but I know who provides the breaths of air within me. To look over my life, even from a child, the Lord has been right there with me. When my faith was weak and I felt hopeless as each New Year came and I felt so alone, I knew He was and is with me. I hold on tight and say, ‘Lord I don’t understand but I trust You, I have to trust You.’

My plans are not His plans. He knows the desires of my heart. I know to wait and He will direct my path to move forward, which will be easy and quick. I have seen it too many times, as have my counselors when facing a wall that I cannot do this and I don’t know how. One day, it is done! Let’s move forward to the next. I wait.

The New Year is here. We are all uncertain what the year holds but we made it through the last one and it had all sorts of surprises and problems. We made it!
Let’s hope and pray that there is no bounce back from 2020, now that it is 2021.

Maybe one day before I die, I will have someone to bounce a ball with and enjoy laughter along the way. I do have hope.

Note: To be open and vulnerable in this blog is not easy. Do I post, do I not, is it just me writing? It hasn’t been easy, my health has taken some blows from it all. What I do know is that I am not the only one dealing with this issue and hopelessness felt in a marriage, feeling alone. There are many around us pretending to be a happy couple who is suffering within. It was once me. No more pretending, I’m too,old. Perhaps my path will lighten those that relate and provide hope. The beach ball can bounce again!

https://www.drcarolministries.com/how-to-know-if-you-are-released-from-your-marriage/

https://www.divorcemag.com/articles/3-reasons-why-we-stay-in-unhappy-marriages

https://www.verywellmind.com/throwing-the-towel-in-marriage-2300478

Eating Emotions

This year, 2020, has been the pits. It started out great and then, just like that, March erupted into chaos and confusion and being confined to the point of craziness over the months. People not knowing what was right or even who to believe. Basically, the year ends the same.

The new normal will never feel normal as we hide behind our masks and avoid those we love for fear of killing them or dying ourselves. The hugs missed are to the point of withdrawal symptoms when we reach out and quickly retract our arms in fear.

Nowadays, anything we hear negative is no surprise. We shrug our shoulders and say, ‘It’s 2020.’ So many have received bad results of their health, job losses, even deaths, etc. Probably nothing new to you either. We just live day to day and hope for the best of the tomorrow and just maybe some laughter will be present. Make the most of each day and hope at times, a moment of normalcy returns that we once knew.

In my own little world, I have managed quite well, shockingly enough. My former counselor would be proud. Panic early on but I learned to build upon my faith and keep as calm as possible. We will get through this. I pulled out every trick in my bag to remain at peace. Then, the past two months, I have found myself snacking a little more than usual. The tide of it all has taken a turn. The sadness within is becoming more evident, not just in me but in all of the eyes peeping over the blue medical masks or those that have cute designs. Who would have thought that we would be accessorizing our wardrobe with facial masks.

As I ponder what I am experiencing, feeling overwhelmed with my own medical decisions, concerned over loved ones of how they are coping since our visits are few, perhaps they are not sharing so that I won’t be concerned, and vice versa. So many are caring for others compromised due to health reasons and in fact, cancer. This is the case of my sister and brother-in-law. I may never see my sister again if this virus is not contained. I may never see my other siblings or other friends and family members. I have lost two friends, just this week. This is down right grief. If I am feeling this, you are also perhaps.

To visit, many are doing so by text or if comfortable, FaceTime or other technology outlets with the holidays. Although nice, still it is not the same as a warm greeting in a hug or to sit next to and talk and laugh, sharing stories and drinking coffee. I miss these moments.

What does the new year bring? Is it a continuation of what we just had and adapting or will there be a glimmer of hope that seeps through the night and makes our days somewhat better and brighter? Hopefully, not worse. There are hurting people all around us, not just in their finances. The holidays season can tip the scale for some and only God’s Grace will be what intervenes. Oh God, keep your Hand upon those that are feeling no hope now or for the new year, I pray.

In my past when I was falling into a hole of depression due to my marriage that I always wanted but was not, I escaped within myself. I snacked my way through year after year, stuffing my emotions so deep that I became a soul of existence only. Walking and barely breathing, just enough to work and keep the home with my children moving forward. They had no mother really and I regret those days, I failed them in many ways. In that though, I lived for them and pushed through my pain. I did my best. All of my energy went to them. The lonely midnight hours, for many years, I could easily escape in a bag of chips or better yet, cookies or whatever carbohydrate-filled foods to fill the empty void in my life, but never filled.

Since those days, thankfully I have changed. I knew back in 2008, as I started with small steps to dig myself out of the pit of despair. It was at a point in the spring of 2014 that I gave it one last-ditch effort as I walked through my former counselor’s door months later. Many of my blogs will relate to this period. I was near death’s door and that was from her telling me the same. Hearing her say that to me after many months or even a year working together, it helped me move forward and take care of myself. My weight gradually came down from 2010 when I had weight loss surgery, as I had to do something. It was just a tool but I had to continually work toward results, as I still do. Again, slow steps and at times, I’d take two steps forward and one back. Knowing those chips and cookies can bring all the pounds right back, quicker than lost.

The reason I write this blog, is to remind myself that with everything around us and what I am facing in my own health, marriage, etc., my mind and it is my inclination to grab those chips and cookies to escape the emotional chaos within.

Perhaps others are experiencing the same. Life can be hard and the stress and anxiety is overwhelming at times, and not to forget, this year. Acknowledging and being responsible enough to control the urge to gobble down the wrong foods, need to be made.

As I look around those I pass, not in a judgment way but glancing at their eyes, many have that hopeless look and the obesity is proof. My heart breaks as I understand the pain because I have been there and still I struggle. In knowing this, too, heavy-weight people are looked at differently but if truth be told, there is probably a lot of hurt and stuffed emotions inside.

Many learn to camouflage, I for one, the extra weight under jackets perhaps and pop on the fake mask, not the mandatory mask, that everything is just fine and dandy. Sadness and worry exists. The mandatory face masks we all wear now, actually help in addition to the fake one. Double protection, knowing you cannot see the full face as there may not be a smile and actually the masks collect the warm, falling tears quicker so you don’t see those either. No matter, the eyes tell all to those that really care. Look around when you are out and about at the eyes of those you pass while social distancing, most are sad or think and feel what’s the use to smile because it cannot be seen. The masks have silenced our voices.

I do try to resist the stuffing of my feelings and emotions with foods that are not healthy, as I feel at times, like a person on drugs in withdrawal. That cookie will calm my fear I feel. Right? No, it won’t. I know to cry out to the Lord, as I remind myself and say, Lord I need you. You know my name, You know where I am. Sadly, it is still easier to grab that cookie even though I know better. It’s an easy and a familiar path I used for years, I don’t want to feel. Perhaps also feeling as though the Lord does not work fast enough or even hear me but that cookie will help me NOW. We have a choice, I have a choice to bypass the urge to ignore what is causing the issues or acknowledge and deal with what is causing discomfort within.

STOP! What am I feeling? Is it anxiousness? Am I fearful? What about anger?

Notice: What am I telling myself? What emotions are exhibited? How is my body reacting, including my breathing and even my posture? My bodily sensations, such as tense, nauseous, pain, whatever. What is happening? The ‘Notice’ was given to me on a post-it note, of what to recognize by my former counselor on our last, unexpected session. It is with me all the time, written in many places so that I can go back and focus, in what is going on with me. It does make me stop. What a gift she gave me in a small piece of paper that has helped me through the years. It’s being mindful, and that is taking care of ourselves.

I fail at times, many times. I also know that I need to give myself grace and start yet again to do what is best for my emotional and mental health, also my physical health. Let’s not forget the spiritual health we also need, very important. I can do this! You can do this!

Do you find yourself struggling?

https://freshhope.ca/2018/02/21/problem-stuffing-emotions/

https://www.thejourney.com/blog/how-to-stop-stuffing-your-emotions-with-food/

https://sunshynegray.com/do-you-stuff-your-feelings/

Stuffing our feelings is packing hurt feelings down only to have them resurface later as they go unresolved. We stuff because of the fear that’s rooted in our desire to avoid pain. Avoiding the pain of vulnerability results in missed opportunities for deeper intimacy and connection. Stop stuffing and start speaking the truth in love.”

https://www.mindful.org/7-qualities-mindfulness-trained-body-scan/

We may even gently make mental notes of the most prominent sensations that we notice. For example we may note the presence of “tingling,” “pulsing,” “throbbing,” “heat,” “cold,” “aching,” or “tightness.” We can notice these sensations without judging them as “bad” or trying to push them away.”