Yes I’m Still Here

I hate the phone. Sincerely. I hate taking phone calls. I don’t like the sound of the phone ringing. I don’t like conversing on the phone. I just don’t like it. And this isn’t a new, luddite phenomenon for me since the advent of cell phone ubiquitousness. I’ve always disliked the phone.

Now, it’s true there are certain select people I can enjoy and have enjoyed speaking with on the phone, but really? It’s exactly 5 total people in history. 4 out of 5 of them, I liked talking on the phone with when phones looked like this…

pexels-photo (4)

One of these people only called me to set up personal meet-up plans. I *might* still like talking to another one of them now, were they to call me, but we text. Pretty sure they prefer text at this point in time too. Two of them I’ve completely lost touch with, because they were folks I had to do all of the reaching out for, and now that I’m 40, I’m just done with that shit.
And the other one of them is J, who is really the only person I look forward to taking a phone call from every day. And just that ONE phone call from him every day, to let me know he’s on his way home from work and speak a little about his day if he can manage hands-free safety while driving the car. More calls from **J** besides that one cause anxiety, and he’ll text me first to warn me if he needs to make one. I don’t care for phone conversation with anyone else ever, to be honest. Not that I don’t care about other people. I care quite a lot. Probably too much. I just hate the damn phone.

I admit, I’m pretty lousy at talking on the phone. I don’t like making calls. I don’t like taking calls. It’s almost always apparent I don’t want to be on the phone when I’m on it. People can usually hear the anxiety in my voice. I once had a friend (it’s the friend that called me to set up plans up there ^^^) call me at work and they didn’t recognize my voice when I answered. They asked me for me.

Me: <answers phone in required work dictated way, which included my first name>

Friend: Um…may I speak to <my entire name> please?

Me: It’s me, D. <I immediately relax because I know who it is and it’s one of my 5 ‘safe,’ enjoyable phone people> You didn’t know it was me?

Friend: You didn’t sound like yourself. <I sound relaxed normally talking to this person, but I am not normally relaxed on the phone ever>

Me: How did I sound?

Friend: HARSH.

One of the main reasons I don’t like phone calls is because I’m a naturally quiet person. I like quiet and I like being quiet most of the time. And most importantly, I am a careful, quiet listener. I don’t interrupt people when they’re speaking to me. I’m not one of those interjectors of ‘yeah’s’ and ‘uh-huh’s’ and ‘hmmmm’s’ when someone is talking to give them verbal cues that I’m listening…I just listen. And for some reason this really throws people off on the phone. They are normally ok with it in person, and in text communication, of course, the pause for ‘listening’ is really reading a person’s entire thought, so it’s built in. You CAN’T interrupt or interject into someone’s text or email. But on the phone, I get asked, ‘Are you still here?’ a lot.

My main source of regular phone calls, other than that daily one from J is my mother. She talks over people a lot. She interrupts people a lot. She tacks onto the end of conversations after ‘Okay…good-bye’ nearly every time…sometimes for up to a half an hour of extra stuff. She’s not a quiet, careful listener. She’s an interjector, but usually? She’s not really listening at all. Her calls are usually so she can have an audience for her goings on other than my father. (I’ve written about my parents before…sometimes I wonder if they even like each other…they don’t talk about things a lot…it’s why my mom calls me). She always does most of the talking. And she knows I hate the phone, but she calls anyway, because she doesn’t like text, and I must adapt to her preferences…she’s never attempted to adapt to mine. That’s fine. I’ve accepted that Mom is always going to call me even though she knows it makes me uncomfortable and anxious. But it does bother me that when I’m listening to one of her long-winded stories about her neighbor’s garden implements or her sister’s husband’s sister spilling her Diet Coke at a doctor’s appointment that she’ll stop mid sentence to check…

Mom: Are you still here?

Me: Yes, Mom. I am listening.

Mom: It’s just so quiet.

I’m not sure how to adequately remedy that. I’m a quiet person. I don’t enjoy being loud or obnoxious to confirm my existence. I know that’s what she wants me to do. She only usually gives attention to people who are attention-grabbing. She’s always wanted me to shout to get attention, and then on the rare occasions I did, she told me to stop shouting and asking for attention. She wants the interjections and interruptions on phone calls to let her know I’m giving her attention. But I just can’t do it. I’m a quiet listener. I’m a quiet person. But I’m still here. 

J’s my favorite phone call because J doesn’t ask me that. He doesn’t ask me to be loud, or otherwise not myself to prove I’m listening or even that I exist. He knows I’m still there.

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