It can take me days, or even weeks, to muster up the emotional strength to make a phone call. Today I have a list of six phone calls to make. Six. That's about six months worth of emotional strength. And I have the perfect day lined up for telephone-avoidance. Most of the jobs I have to do today are in the lab, downstairs. My phone is on my desk in the office, upstairs. I can easily spend all day busy (and not just "busy") nowhere near a phone, and give myself a rueful shrug at the end of the day that it just wasn't my fault. So instead I'm going to CBT the hell out of this problem.
CatteryWe're going on holiday. We need to put the cat in the cattery for the week we're away. It's the same cattery we always use. I know the owner, she's lovely, she recognises my voice when I phone and remembers the idiot cat's name. When she's fully booked and hasn't got room for the idiot cat, she's recommended other places nearby. She won't think I'm an idiot... She won't think I'm an idiot... She won't think I'm an idiot... She won't think I'm an idiot. CBT to the rescue! Even if she does think I'm an idiot, it doesn't matter. I'm not an idiot, and the opinion of somebody who runs a cattery will not change that.
VetWe can't actually send the cat to the cattery unless he's up to date on his vaccinations. His vaccination reminder came through the post this week. I must phone the vet. He must have his vaccinations. What can go wrong? Nothing. Seriously, nothing can go wrong. They might not have an appointment this week. That's OK. I can ask for one next week, or the week after. As long as I phone soon then there's time to be flexible. The worst thing I can do is leave it to the last minute. There is no negative outcome to phoning the vet. They have asked me to phone.
GarageI really ought to deal with the engine warning light on my car. It's no longer intermittent, it's now permanent. I'm fairly certain it's still just a corroded cable falsely reporting an error. After all, that's what it was when it was intermittent and the car was serviced. And the garage did say to bring it back in once it was more permanent and they'd sort it out. So all I need to do is phone them and say the light's back and can they sort it. They're virtually expecting me to call. But... but... but... garages spring questions on you sometimes, you know, like "is that the model with the double overhead flugle-carb-dunker? Or is it the one with the single cam fangle-winder?" And then you end up turning all pathetic-woman and saying "Erm, it's blue. Does that help?" Even though you're perfectly competent and intelligent and do know how an internal combustion engine works, but before you know it you get chalked up as a complete idiot who doesn't know the difference between a glow plug and a spark plug. And breathe... back to the CBT... it's not that bad... even if they think I'm an idiot, does it really matter? No. Has anyone ever asked me a question I couldn't answer when booking my car in for a repair? No. Pick up the phone.
My aunt and uncleHow can this one be difficult? Seriously, this is my much-loved aunt and uncle, and I need to ask them a favour. A favour they offered to undertake already, completely unbidden. I need them to take receipt of some new furniture at the family cottage in a couple of weeks time. I've already deferred delivery every month for the last three months, and I think the sofa company are getting a bit hacked off with trying to deliver and being told there won't be anyone there. But it's an imposition, and I don't have any flexibility about dates with the sofa people, who appear to send a lorry out to the north-west once a month, and that's the only option. All my aunt and uncle can say is "yes of course" or "sorry, we're busy". They won't mind me asking. They wouldn't have offered if they minded. They're not just being polite.
The sofa peopleI either have to phone them and say "yes, that date's fine" or "no that date's not fine" after I speak to aunt and uncle. Why am I so worried that they'll shout at me like I'm a little girl who's done something naughty? It's not my fault they only offer delivery one day in every month. It's not my fault this is a holiday cottage that there's rarely anybody at. They've already taken the money for the furniture. I'm the customer. They have no right or reason to be cross. If they are rude to me it's because they are providing poor customer service. I'm the customer.
Some sort of cat grooming personThis one's hard as I don't even know who to call. I just know my idiot cat's fur is getting out of control. He's getting too many furballs, he's being sick, he's getting unspeakable poo stuck in his fur, and generally his life (and ours) is getting stinky and horrid. A proper grooming, and some trimming of his ridiculous pantaloons would improve the world no end. First I have to find someone, then I have to call them, and then I have to discover that what I'm asking is utterly, outrageously, ridiculously stupid, because nobody in their right mind clips the long haired tangled pantaloons of a middle-aged moggy and then I can feel embarrassed and stupid and hang up. So that phone calls not going to happen is it? No, let's get back on the CBT track, I've been losing the plot a little bit. Cat groomers offer a service, for which a customer pays. If I would like that service and I am either mocked or denied, then I can take my custom elsewhere. I have nothing to be embarrassed about in trying to make my cat's life more comfortable. I can do this.
The outcomeSo I started at the beginning, and phoned the cattery. They're full. So are my back-up cattery. My hands are shaking, I feel physically sick and I'm fighting back tears. I don't know what to do. I don't know where to start. If I can't make some arrangement for the cat to be looked after while we're away, then we can't go. I've ruined our holiday and it hasn't even started yet. I've failed, again. I should have phoned weeks ago. Screw you CBT, all you did was help me pick the phone up, I'm still stuck, wallowing in my own recrimination and worthlessness and I can't make it stop, I can't get things right, I can't do it, I can't, I can't, I can't.
One phone call made. One failure notched up. Only five more to go.