Stop the Voices!

I am telephone phobic. I have always been shy where the telephone is concerned, but the phobia only developed when I was overexposed to people who had verbal diarrhoea of a very negative kind.

It all started out when I offered a helping hand to someone who not only accepted my hand, but took my arm as well, and the rest of me. Particularly my ears. This person called me every day for several years, and would talk for hours on end.
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At the time that I knew them, their love life had undergone a complete change, and this had left them devastated. They were at the beginning of a very nasty break up. They needed a friend to confide in.
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At first I didn’t mind too much about the phone calls, even the ones which woke me up from deep sleep. I thought we were having conversations which were helpful, supportive, a lifeline during a storm. Then I realised I was just an ear they wanted to spill endless words into.
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My words were barely tolerated. I was there to listen, and occasionally say something to let them know they were being listened to, nothing more. Definitely nothing more. That was eventually made extremely clear in no uncertain terms.
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I did not like this situation. I wanted to stop the interaction, but felt obliged to continue. I had signed an invisible contract, and didn’t know how to make it null and void. So I gritted my teeth, bit my tongue, and stuck it out.
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The levels of ear abuse escalated.
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This person’s ex decided to start calling me too.
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I was utterly and hopelessly caught between these two people, and their increasingly disastrous drama. I couldn’t find an escape.
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Eventually they sorted their mess out. I was no longer needed or useful, so they stopped calling. The contract was over. But the residue stuck to me.
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Whenever the phone rings, I have flashbacks. My hand often hesitates to answer. I feel trapped by telephones, forced to listen. It’s rude to hang up. It’s also rude not to answer. Ugh!
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There is a flip side to this phobia, pros as well as cons, and it has a lot to teach me about conscious communication.
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I am a fairly good listener, and have noticed that often, when people talk, particularly if they are avid talkers, they do not listen to a word they are saying. In many cases I suppose this does not matter, but in those instances when a person is discussing a problem, they might miss the solution to it in their very own words.
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I was with someone recently who just talked nonstop about everything that was wrong with everyone else. If this person had actually listened to what they were saying, they would have realised that the common denominator in all their problems with other people was them. But they never listen to themselves. That is evident in the fact that they constantly repeat themselves, or pause and ask ‘What was I saying?’.
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They are an unconscious communicator. They speak for the sake of hearing the sound of their own voice, not to listen to what that voice is saying. They are extremely critical in a lot of what they say to others, and very tactless. I couldn’t point this out to this person, not because they would have been upset by my words, which they would have been as they are very touchy, but because they never listen to anything anyone else says either. They are a closed off island.This person hates to use email, they prefer to use the phone. Which is interesting. The two people in the previous story also did not listen to themselves when they spoke, and preferred vocalising all their thoughts rather than writing anything down. In fact one of them was afraid to the point of paranoia about putting anything down on paper.

I wonder if it has to do with the fact that you actually have to review your own thoughts as you write. I find putting my thoughts down on paper very insightful, and often tremendously revealing.

Part of my problem with the telephone is I actually listen when people talk. If I could figure out how not to listen, then maybe I could stop the phobia. But I like to hear what is being said. I do have to deal with this because it is leaking into other areas. I am finding it increasingly difficult to watch television, but at least I can shut actors up midstream without offending anyone.

Yesterday I went to the dentist. It was a new dentist, and this stranger lectured me for what felt like half an hour, but was only a couple of minutes, on the perils of acid erosion. It’s the new bad thing. Their words were delivered without interest, the memorised memo sent to all dentists to relay to their patients. I actually had something I wanted to ask, but they brushed my concerns off and repeated the lecture.

The more I think about it, the angrier I get. They were really very rude from the get go in more ways than one, but I always shrug off other people’s rudeness because I’m not sure how they perceive my behaviour, maybe they think I’m being rude and it makes them rude.

I see a theme in my words. In this whole piece. That is why I love writing these posts because they enable me to see myself, my life, my problems, etc from a different angle. I’ve just figured out a crucial element behind the phobia. I won’t go into it further now. I will point out that the concern I wanted to discuss with the dentist is a physical manifestation of a psychological frustration – I grind my teeth in my sleep. I’ve done it since I’ve had teeth to grind. My jaws are very strong, in fact I used to want to be one of those aerial artists who hang from their teeth and spin.

So, what do you think?