When my phone rings, I hear sirens as loud as the thunder in the sky—that whisper in my ears not to answer the call.
I have recently learned that I have phone anxiety and that it is okay to not answer if I don’t feel like it.
Our first instinct when our phone rings is to answer it, right? But when I say it takes everything in me to do it, I speak for everyone who has social anxiety or who feels troubled talking on phone. I would prefer to text/email over a call any time of the day unless it’s an emergency and requires verbal communication.
Many of my friends and acquaintances don’t understand it enough to acknowledge the fact that even a person who is friendly and not so “stage-fearing” is struggling to talk on the phone. I cannot go on explaining to everyone that phone calls are triggering, especially when one has been a victim of verbal abuse over the phone.
A few years ago, I was with someone who called himself a supposed “best friend” but who had gaslighted, controlled, and manipulated me in every worst way possible. My every move was kept track of. This was the same person who abused me verbally and physically—who took away my voice.
I was away for college and mostly out of reach physically, so he used to make calls at odd times and demand things that I was not comfortable with. Every time he made a call, it was either to yell at me or to abuse me for no particular reason. When I didn’t answer the call on my cell, he would call my landline.
It’s been years since I’ve come out from this situation, but I’m still learning to keep my calm when my phone rings. My heart pounds like a drumroll, which then gives me shivers, and I start to sweat whenever I hear the ring.
Here are some things that help me to face my phone anxiety:
1. I have a peaceful ringtone that alerts me that I have an incoming call rather than having something loud and chaotic.
2. I let my friends and family know that I cannot take calls unless it’s an emergency.
3. I realized I have the right to not answer or cut the call if I’m not ready. “No” is a “no,” even for as simple as something as a phone call.
4. I breathe in, breathe out, and smile.
I do answer calls from my family and a couple of other friends because they’re in my comfort zone and they understand what I’m going through. They usually drop a text though instead.
I hope that one day I will conquer my fears and will be brave enough to answer calls as a normal person does.
This is for anyone who is walking in my shoes—hang in there, I’m with you; I hear you, and you are accepted.