Cheat Code


“So what would you like to get out of these sessions?”

It was my second session with Aurelius, which meant the getting-to-know-you pleasantries were taken care of and now it was on to goal setting. The first session felt like a lifetime ago, even though it had only been a week. I’d tried to use the intervening time to consider what I hoped to accomplish.

“I want to find ways to manage my depression.” I said. “Though that’s been better lately.”

This was true: after nearly a whole month of low energy and mood swings I’d somewhat managed to find my balance again without a second thought. But I wasn’t going to fall into the trap of thinking that it was gone.

“And I’ve made some discoveries about myself that I want to integrate into my life more: to live more fully, more authentically.”

The past year had been nothing if not a journey of self discovery: new friends, new interests, new festering obsessions. I’d finally managed to accept my body: for a most of my life my poor body image had dangled over my head like a sword of Damocles. Now that the threat of constant self consciousness was gone I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. I was finding myself trapped between “Hey, I’m hot AF,” and “what if I still don’t belong?”

It was going to take some work to resolve this.

“And I’d like to work on getting over my anxiety around making phone calls.” I concluded.

This one had come up over the weekend: I’d been lamenting how all the entry level assistant jobs universally included “heavy phones” and “rolling phone calls”, the very mention of which would strike terror into my heart. It was a fear I’d had for a long time: even working as a sales rep and as a receptionist for years. I’d *mostly* gotten to the point where I could make necessary phone calls, but I’d never really found true comfort with it.

This, naturally, was the item we addressed first. Aurelius believed strongly in the efficacy of accupressure tapping: a sequence of tapping gestures on various pressure points on the face and body that would release the energy that knotted itself up into anxiety.

I was a skeptic, but it seemed worth a try: being free of the irrational fear of making phone calls would open up a lot of opportunity for me, and if I needed to suspend my disbelief long enough to tap out a-shave-and-a-haircut on a few acupressure points then it seemed like a small price to pay.

So I tried it. Tap the back of the hand. Tap the cheekbone below the eye. Tap the collarbone. Tap the rib…

I did the tapping myself, mirroring Aurelius’ gestures.

Look down to the left. Look down to the right. Hum a few notes of “Happy Birthday”. Count to five.

Up, up. Down, down. Left, right, left, right. I wondered. How the hell did anybody ever figure this out?

I felt like I was tapping out a cheat code to break the rules of the world. The fear of phone calls had been part of me for as long as I could remember. What might life be like without it?

“Thinking about your fear, on a scale of one to ten, where would you say it falls?”

At the start of the exercise I’d described my worst fear of phone calls as an “eight or a nine” remembering the days when just thinking about the fact that I’d have to go to a job involving phone calls on Monday would be enough to tie my stomach in knots all weekend.

“I don’t know?” The thought of the fear seemed difficult to call to mind- like I was only faintly remembering it. “Three, maybe?” I didn’t feel any different, but trying to think about being afraid of phone calls seemed unimportant. The memories were still there, but they felt thin- like I was just readi2ng for them out of habit.

“Three’s pretty good, let’s do it one more time and see if there’s a difference.”

We repeated the ritual.

“And now?”

I tried to reach for the fear, but drew a blank. I didn’t feel any different, I just couldn’t seem to think of what it was that had been so frightening. Could it really have been so easy? I wanted to believe that it was possible, but it still seems too good to be true.

I haven’t actually tried cold calling anyone yet, so I can’t say if there is any real change, but I’m enjoying the fantasy of it: the confidence to make and field phone calls without flop sweat and a pounding hear? Yes, please. Would be worth the copay.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on May 7, 2019.

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