Sweaty palms and pits, a volcano preparing to erupt in the stomach, heart rapidly beating as if life’s about to end—these are the moments felt before a phone call.
When someone says they’re going to call me, I think to myself, “Okay, how can I make this not happen? What could I be doing instead? I have laundry I need to do, I could clean my room, I could clean the bathroom—someone might need help moving something, or maybe I’ll need to babysit… what if I get sick? Maybe I’ll get sick…” I think of all the possibilities that could result in me not answering. Maybe it’s too early, maybe it’s too late, maybe my phone was on vibrate/I couldn’t find it…
I hate phone calls. They’re the most dreaded part of my life. It’s a lot more than anxiety—I have issues with delayed processing, heightened senses, and the inability to think on-demand. I do so well with text-based communication, because I can read it over and over again, but if and when you give me verbal communication to deal with, then I’m going to get lost.
If I’m not stuttering, my mind is thinking more slowly than I can actually process, so I start to answer with anything, and then I stumble over my words later, confusing the people on the other line. Oftentimes, when I’m having in-person verbal conversations, others try to think for me, or guess what I’m trying to say, rather than wait for me to finish—guessing what I’m trying to say doesn’t actually help and can result in me saying yes to something that is not likely the case.
It’s not necessarily a means of “slow down”, but a means of wait-for-me-to-talk—however, even then, it could even have to do with the entire situation. I’m still reacting, but I’m not actually processing and understanding what is happening in a situation. It’s delayed.
When the aforementioned is paired with the inability to comprehend prosody, it gets more complicated: People are taught to understand nonverbal communication, in addition to prosody, and use these as a means of communication—they’re taught to understand everything at once and make note of everything the person is doing, the tone the person is speaking with, and many other things I deem rather pointless.
It’s pointless to me, because no matter how many times someone tries to make me understand all these other cues, I still don’t actually understand it. I don’t notice the difference in others’ tones, and I rarely know when someone is telling a joke and when someone is being serious. I often relate myself to Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, because he tends to have difficulties with sarcasm and seriousness, much like myself. It’s a headache trying to know the difference between tones and emotions, and people who are so accustomed to communicating using those other cues are appalled when someone disagrees.
You can disagree with me, that’s fine; however, there’s more to communication than eye contact, someone’s tone of voice, and touching someone… stop relying on it so much. Words are words, and they can be a powerful tool if you let them be—no need to touch my shoulder, pierce my eyes or verbalize at me.
Text-based, nonverbal communication allows me to process everything in the comfort of my own space, as well as analyze how I’m feeling, if I’m feeling anything at all. Sometimes, things are just what they are—I’m not always going to feel something about things.
Asking me how I feel about something results in me feeling annoyed from you asking such an idiotic question.
I also never known when to speak, and more often than not, I have nothing to say right then, or ever, but there’s not any ability to wait.
In other news, I survived an approximately 8-minute phone call today.