This post is dedicated to two of my dearest friends, who I have grown up with, and who I miss terribly.
Two of my friends (for legal and moral reasons I shall name them Friend A and Friend B) are disappearing from my life, and I’m not OK with that.
First, let me explain something about me. I suffer from a relatively unknown condition. It is so unknown that I believe I actually made it up, so for that reason I have the dubious pleasure of giving it a name: phone phobia. I know it’s not very imaginative, but if I called it Clive this paragraph would have to be much longer.
I don’t know why talking on the phone makes me so uncomfortable. Maybe it’s because I hate awkward silences. Maybe it’s because I hate when people talk over me even more.
More realistically, I believe it’s because I find communicating face-to-face (or in this case, ear-to-phone) incredibly difficult when important shit needs saying. I’m just plain no good at it. I stutter, I sweat, I even lose my memory to the extent that I forget words.
Both Friend A and Friend B are experiencing terrible personal dramas right now, and they need me. They need me to hug them, they need me to talk to – what they don’t need is a well intentioned text message or email.
I think it’s quite normal to feel impotent when someone you love is going through a terrible crisis that you can do nothing to improve. Perhaps this is why people sometimes distance themselves from close friends and/or relatives when they have experienced a divorce or a bereavement. We don’t feel that our presence will help the sufferer and we are petrified of saying the wrong thing and making things worse.
The thing is, I know from past experience how it feels when people avoid you because they don’t know what to say or do. It makes you feel incredibly lonely at a time when you need to feel supported. And knowing this, I do it any way.
It’s incredibly selfish and stems from a fear of discomfort. But what’s worse? Feeling uncomfortable for a short spell or knowing that you are neglecting someone when they really need you?
Distance is an issue too. If it weren’t, I like to think that I wouldn’t be writing this right now, I’d be with A or B, having a glass of wine or a coffee, and just being there for them.
But with distance being an issue, I have to get to grips with the next best means of communication. After all, I didn’t have such a fear of phones when it was me reaching out for them in my time of need.
So this is the confession of a phoneaphobe and generally rubbish friend. I don’t know if A or B will read this, but if they do… I’m sorry.