The one seemingly monumental hurdle I’ve had to get over since my mom passed away, is my fear of talking on the telephone. With my stutter, the phone has always been a source of immense anxiety and not fear exactly, but a strong avoidance at all cost. I hid behind my mother and let her make phone calls for me, and now that she isn’t here anymore, it’s been difficult for me. I will sit at the kitchen table and stare at the phone with an ever-growing sense of unease just bubbling up from within me. I’ll pick it up, start to dial, then hang up and put it back down again. Then I feel angry at myself to giving so much of my power away to an inanimate object. But it’s not the object that scares me it’s my social anxiety and not knowing how the person on the other end of the call will react to my stutter. For the most part, it’s been positive, but there have been a couple of times that scarred me. Of course, those events happened when I was much younger but the feelings stuck to my psyche like crazy glue. Like the time I was trying to call someone from grade school, and I had to call collect, and the operator told me that she could trace my call and would send the police to make me talk correctly if I couldn’t do it on my own. Yeah, something like that leaves a mark. Now, I admit looking back on it, it was something I should have just let go but, being so young, I just let it stay with me. And, in letting it stay with me, it grew to be a bigger thing than it ever should have. But I think we all do that with something in our lives. Let something small, grow out of proportion, and then it seems all consuming.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been making progress with my telephobia. I just told myself that making telephone calls is part of making my way through the world on my own. It was time to rip that band-aid off and let the old wound be exposed to air so it can finally heal. I still keep having false starts, but that’s to be expected. I just need to be patient with myself.
Telephobia is a more recent aspect of my social anxiety and, while my experiences weren’t the same as yours, I can relate to your post. I freelance and not being able to just jump on the phone (or Skype) for an interview has even cost me jobs.
As you said, progress often has false starts and requires one’s patience. Kudos to your brave effort and best of luck on your process!
Thank you. It’s been tough dealing with it all.