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You have reached the voicemail box of...

So what's up? I'm good except I have this gnawing feeling of guilt that I can't shake. A little background on my phone answering protocol before I get into why. When it comes to answering the phone, the first thing I feel is the awful feeling in my chest that someone is calling to tell me someone I love passed away in a random volcanic explosion or that I need to report to jail for some crime I committed that I have no clue about and I'm totally innocent. Once the mini panic attack subsides from the shock of the ringer, after I see who's calling, I go into the next phase. The decision making phase. Is this person in my close circle of people I can talk to no matter how I'm feeling? If yes, I'll usually answer if I'm free.

Next if the person calling is not in the "I feel they will accept me no matter what" group, I ask myself, Am I feeling "people-y" today? Can I see myself getting on the phone and actually having a fruitful conversation with this person? Are they going through something and could I help in any way? If yes I'll answer if the phone is still ringing after some time pondering my options-usually entering the conversation with reasons why I can't talk long in case it gets too uncomfortable for me. Then there are circumstances where I'm just not in the mood to be uncomfortable. Not in the mood to search for words to say or feeling like a deer caught in the headlights when they say something I have no idea how to respond to. Not in the mood to fight my anxiety right now. So I avoid it all together to avoid thinking about how I totally sucked in the conversation for 4 hours until I fall asleep.

I'm not good with just random talk unless you're in my "accept me no matter what group". These are people who through time and blood relation have proven to me that they will always be in my corner and I can take a little judgement or criticism from them and it wont absolutely ruin my day. Basically their opinions or what they are thinking don't break me or cause me to panic because I genuinely trust them and I'm used to them. I can get over it.

My grandmother passed away September 16th, 2019. It'll be two years since she left us in a couple weeks. She has a sister who she talked to almost everyday for as long as I can remember. Most times she'd be in the room asleep on the phone, yet still answering questions through snores and head nods. After my grandmother passed I began to speak to her on a regular basis. I mean if I didn't go to the funeral I would think I was talking to my Granny. They share the same feistiness and use of words, thick New Orleans accent, and their voices are almost identical in my opinion. I'd close my eyes and just imagine that I was talking to my Granny about gumbo recipes and etouffee, what she ordered off QVC and how many unopened boxes are piled up in her guest room, just regular conversation. They even talk shit the same which I now loved all of a sudden since I could no longer hear it.

A year ago I changed parts of my life that didn't allow me to escape from life so much. So I was previously able to get through those conversations with ease and a smile, and never be at a loss for words. Now when I talk to her I cry. I cry because its like I'm talking to my Granny from the dead. It takes a lot out of me now that I'm having to grieve differently. So, when I see her number pop up, I hesitate to answer because it causes me so much grief and pain and sadness that I can't run from anymore. And I don't know how to tell her. Instead I look at the phone and hope it stops ringing soon. Then I feel bad for days wondering why I just can't answer and say hello and have a conversation with her. The longer I wait to call her back to have this conversation, the more my anxiety takes over and tells me she's mad at me and that she probably thinks I'm a horrible person, anything my brain can throw at me.

Tomorrow I'm going to call her and check on her. Due to Hurricane Ida she temporarily relocated to Baton Rouge with family. Despite me thinking that she is wondering why I took so long to call and how could I not have checked on her already, I am going to force myself to call. I tell myself these things are not true. But sometimes the negative thoughts and perceptions take over and I go into avoidance mode. Tomorrow I am going to fight these feelings and just jump. Through my journey I'm learning that the best way to find out if what I'm feeling is valid is to just ask. Just dive into it. I'm able to do that somedays now, when my anxiety isn't on level 1000. It seems so small but this is an example of the simple things that have me sitting here righting paragraphs. Paragraphs about making one phone call. I'll let you know how it went. Goodnight.

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