I hate talking on the phone. Not a mild dislike, but an intense loathing. It really upsets people, especially those over the age of 30. I was recently told I was harder to reach by phone then Donald Trump, to which I TEXTED “are you sure I’m not really him? Have you ever seen the 2 of us together”. Later, I called back, because it was my cousin who I love, but the point is: I don’t want to talk to on the phone.
For those of you who hate that I won’t take phone calls, here are the reasons why:
I am a Visual Person. I need to see facial expressions and body language to interpret what is being said. I am a firm believer that words are only part of any story, and they are often the most inaccurate part of the story, hence my need for visual cues.
I am a physical speaker. (Is that the right way to say that?) I once almost stabbed a fellow mother at a dinner table because I was so animated and passionate about what I was saying. True, this was not a great use of my physicality, but it demonstrates that I speak with my hands, my eyes, my face, and often my whole body
I have a bad neck. What, you ask? Have you ever watched a mom, who’s primary job is homemaking, on the phone? Does she sit and enjoy the conversation? NO. She lifts her shoulder, holds the phone between her ear and shoulder, and cooks dinner, or helps with homework, or finishes dusting. When I do this I run the risk of being in serious pain for up to a week. After 4 car accidents, and increasing arthritis, my neck is usually one bad movement away from pinching a nerve, which will then radiate down my back. Some people think it’s funny to call me while I’m preparing dinner, because they know the kids are around and will prompt me to answer. Guess what? It’s not Funny. It hurts. A Lot!
There are many alternatives. I will grant those I have ignored repeatedly over the years, that when I first stopped answering my phone there weren’t many alternative forms of communicating. Now, though, there is texting, email, face-time, and facebook video. All of these alternatives allow me to continue what I’m doing while talking and simultaneously Not Hurting My Neck.
Sometimes I’m busy! Shocking, right? For example, every Monday night I work at my Yoga Studio and can not talk on the phone. Almost every morning I am doing yoga and not able to talk on the phone. I have numerous doctor appointments each month during which I can not talk on the phone. Sometimes I nap, during which time I can not talk on the phone.
Talking on the phone often causes me anxiety attacks. This is especially true if I am being asked to do something, or feel compelled to extend an invitation. When I feel like I’m being put on the spot my anxiety increases, which makes the ability for me to respond in the way I truly want decreases, which increases my anxiety. Round and round I go. I am not good at thinking on my feet to begin with. When you take away my visual cues, all hell breaks loose and anxiety sets in. Once an anxiety attack starts it can last for days.
I get very tired. This has been an issue for me ever since my lungs went bad, and it has increased substantially since chemo. I know all of you think you know the tired I’m talking about, but you might not. You might not be familiar with the tired that has me in tears at the thought of having to cook dinner, even a frozen dinner. You might not be familiar with the tired that leaves me unable to read a favorite book, or even watch a favorite television show. You probably aren’t familiar with the tired that stays for days, sometimes weeks, at a time. You might not ever experience the tired that 20 hours of sleep can’t fix. When this happens, I need to take what little energy I have and give it to myself and my children. I can not be there for you. I’m sorry, but I just can’t be. Some friends have left me because of this, but most seem to get it.
My memory is shot. Again, I know most of you get this, that as we age our memory gets worse. I have no way of knowing how much of my memory issues are age and how much is chemo, but I know it is bad. And it is worse when I am anxiety ridden or multi-tasking. Recent brain scans have indicated that the post-chemo brain is similar to the ADD brain. Which is why I am especially adamant about not making potentially life altering decisions on the phone. I need words to refer back, to ponder, to look at a week later and reevaluate.
I associate the phone with adolescent drama, back-stabbing and hurtful gossip. When I was growing up this was our form of communication. I can remember nights when the phone calls would go on and on, with one or more people trying to stir up drama. The calls I got were as follows: person A says to person B “hey did you hear what C said about you”, then hangs up and calls person C and says “hey did you hear what B said about you”. Remember that? Anyone? I see it in my children now, and I will tell you a True Fact: When the child gets sick and tired of the drama, they get off of the social media platform being used. They delete snapchat, or kik kak, or instagram, or whatever communication program they’ve been using. Why, you ask? Because they have come to the realization that this platform is being used for evil, not good. Do I think phones are used for evil? Not now. However, the holdover from my youth is still there, so every time the phone rings my heart skips a beat, my blood pressure starts to rise and I tense my jaw in anticipation.
I know it really bugs people that I don’t often answer my phone, and this is my last-ditch effort to elicit some empathy. When I don’t answer your phone call it is about ME, not YOU. And it probably isn’t what you are thinking. I also know that there are certain times a phone call can not be avoided. So, here is my plea:
The next time you are upset when I, or someone else who also loathes phone “chats” won’t pick up the phone, ask yourself the following two questions:
- Is it really imperative that I talk to this person on the phone right now?
- Is there a different way I can communicate with him/her that might work better.
Whatever you do though, please stop complaining about this. Please take me as I am. I am a generous, loving, helpful, kind person. I’m even more of all those things when I can read an email or text and give a thoughtful response. If talking on the phone is more important then those qualities, I’m probably not your girl.