A Fear Of Answering The Telephone

I have tried to explain, on a number of occasions in the past, the fear that I used to have with regards answering the telephone. I tried to explain it to a couple of my friends, to a speech and language therapist and also to one of the members of my immediate family. How did they react?

Well they all reacted in pretty much the same way, they were rather shocked and looked at me like I was somewhat crazy. Fair enough I suppose, why should they be able to understand? I have also explained the fear to people who have attended one of my stuttering courses and guess what? Yes the majority of them could fully understand the way in which I felt.

Therefore if you are reading this post and do not have a stutter then you may well not fully realise or understand the way in which attempting to answer the telephone affected me.  So here it is; my fear of answering the phone during the period of my life when I had a stutter:

I will give an example of when I was aged eighteen which was back in 1991. I wonder how many of you will now go and work out how old I am, to save you the trouble I am aged 39! This was therefore way before the existence of mobile telephones and also think it was before answering machines if my memory serves me correct.

My parents along with my brother and sister were all out and I had been asked to leave any telephone messages on a notepad. I sat there hoping, of course, that the phone did not ring. I thought to myself that even if it did ring that I could just leave it to ring out.

But then I remembered that my Dad had stated that he was expecting an important telephone call and that if the person did call to then leave a message. My dad was always a massive help to me, as were all of my immediate family, and I therefore did not want to let him down.

Suddenly the telephone rang and therefore I went over to where it was placed in the room. At this stage people that do not have a stutter would simply pick up the phone and then answer it but that is not what I did. I just stood there shaking. Yes shaking!

My struggle to answer the telephone

Why? Well looking back I had perhaps just built it up too much by over thinking and worrying about it but to not do so is easier said then done. Answering the telephone and making a telephone call was something I avoided at all cost as I just had absolutely no confidence in my speech to be able to communicate in a fluent manner.

I compare the way in which I was back then to how my step daughter, who is eighteen years of age, is today – she spends many an hour talking to various people on her mobile phone – but then again what is the point of comparing her as a fluent person to myself back then who had a stutter? Yes no point at all.

Anyway back to the telephone ringing – despite my nerves and shakes I just knew that I had to answer it as explained previously. So I bravely picked up the receiver and attempted to say the word “Hello”. I must have sounded like an old man as I shakily said it.

And have a guess who was on the other end of the line? My DAD! Are you OK Steve, you seem a little out of breath? I was so relieved that it was him and my whole body then seemed to relax. I then spoke really well for the rest of the telephone call, how crazy is that?

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