The Daily: A Source of Anxiety

A ringing phone.

Gah, it makes my stomach clench at the thought of the sound.

People that know me know: I hate talking on the phone. So, the people that know me: don’t call. If they need to discuss something so important, they know to do it in person. I spend so much time on the phone with work, I really hate being on the phone for personal reasons.

Oh, the sound of a ringing phone. Who is calling? Do I even want to talk to them? Why are they calling? What do they want – they must want something? Or, oh boy, who died?

I spend the few seconds it takes to answer the call going through possible scenarios to prepare myself, or just make myself that much more anxious about the call itself.

For example: one day at work, my cell phone rang and I almost had a heart attack right in my desk chair. The blood drained from my face and hands. I almost didn’t want to answer it, but knew I had to: it was my mother-in-law calling.

She never calls me.

Ever.

She never calls me directly, she always calls her son’s phone. My mind raced. Something terrible happened.  What happened to my husband? Is he sick? Did he get into an accident? Where is he? No, it’s too soon, I can’t lose him.

You get the picture.

I leapt from my chair to answer my cell phone and my mother-in-law’s voice comes through on the other end.

“Hey Patty, it’s V. I’m at Kohl’s shopping and want to know what size shirt C wears now? Is it still a medium?”

I blanked. For several seconds I could not register anything. I swallowed the lump in my throat, set my heart’s pace back to normal and took a breath. I don’t entirely recall what I said in reply, other than to confirm he still wore a medium shirt, but I do recall wanting to hang up on her immediately after chewing her out for the anxiety and panic attack she just induced.

Looking back, it is a funny story: nothing bad happened and the shirt my husband received for a gift looks quite dashing on him. But the next time she called, I let it go to voice-mail and waited to worry. And I’m glad I did… it was the same question.

The ringing phone is a constant source of anxiety for me.

What is a source of anxiety for you?

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