What losing my s*** with a telemarketer taught me about self-care
How I got triggered by a seemingly harmless call and worked my way back to being OK.
It’s the Friday after Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh testified on Kavanaugh’s nomination to a lifetime appointment to the supreme court. I’m in my kitchen, and I get a random phone call from someone in my hometown area code. I answer, thinking it may be a long lost friend who got a new number. Nope. It was one of those annoying “we can lower your interest rate on a credit card that you don’t have” calls. I had been getting these and blocking them for a while, so I took a minute to request my name be taken off the list.
The call started out polite enough. I listen for a moment before realizing I’m going to get a long-winded sales pitch. I kindly interrupt to say the reason I hit “zero” was to request that I be taken off the list. The guy responds with another formal pitch. I again request to be taken off the list. He then asks “why” at which point I explain that I’m tired of getting calls and I don’t have a credit card with this unknown company. He goes on to tell me where I can find the name of the company on my bill (does not name the company and of course there is no bill). I start to get frustrated and again state that I want to be taken off the list.
And this is when I get the first “no, I will not do that.”
What? Say what?!? Um….hell to the NO. Seriously WTF!?!
The rest of the conversation goes like this:
Me: Excuse me? Yes, I am requesting to be taken off the list.
Telemarketer Dude: No, I will not do that for you.
Me: I have the right to request that you no longer call me, take me off your list.
Telemarketer Dude: No. I will not. Why should I do that?
Me: Because I do not want to receive these calls any longer.
Telemarketer Dude: Ok, but why not?
Me: (I think I’m finally getting somewhere ) Look, I do not need to justify or explain myself to you, I have a simple request, take me off the list.
Telemarketer Dude: No, I will not.
Me: I want to talk to your manager.
Telemarketer Dude: I am the manager.
Me: Bullshit, I want to talk to the manager.
Telemarketer Dude: I am the manager and I will not remove you from the list.
Me: (screaming now) Take me off the mother f*****list!
Telemarketer Dude: (yelling at me) NO I WILL NOT, and then I hear a click.
As I stand in my kitchen screaming into my headphones with my hands raised to emphasize my point, I realize that my dog is looking at me like I’m a crazy person AND that not only has this man refused my request, he also hung up on me.
I’m so enraged I call back. I get the lovely voicemail of some chick. Of course. The telemarketing system hijacked some sweet girls phone number for this infuriating interaction and there is NO way to track the call and raise some hell.
I stand there shaking until the rage subsides. I start to cry. Thoughts start tumbling through my mind. What the hell is wrong with me? I don’t lose my shit like this with random strangers over a phone call. I don’t scream at people. What’s going on here?
I try to pull it together and shake it off because I have a call with a friend in 3 minutes. I decide to walk it off with my sweet pup while I talk with her. I realize that she’s the kind of friend who hates surface level bullshit and that I am still too upset to pretend like I’m ok.
I hop on the call with my friend. She instantly knows something’s wrong. I start telling the story. I tear up when I get to the point where I explain “I’m already so enraged by what’s happened to me. To the women I know. To the women I don’t know. And then I try to say “no,” I do not want this phone call, a simple request, a simple no….and not only does he ignore me, he challenges my no with great intensity. And yet again, my voice is silenced and a flood of past “no’s” come rushing back into my consciousness.”
She got chills. I had to stop walking to cry. We sat in silence for a moment as we both soaked in the massiveness of what I had just said.
That was the moment I realized that I wasn’t ok. Despite feeling cool as a cucumber two hours before. Don’t get me wrong, I’d been triggered with all of the supreme court nominee proceedings but, having done a lot of therapy throughout my life, I was generally doing fine.
But this interaction with telemarketer dude pushed me right over the goddamn edge. Since I’m a self-care coach and have created a very comprehensive methodology around how to work one’s self from “not ok” to smooth sailing, I realized I was going to have to pull my handbook out.
I started exploring how I was triggered. I dug down to the gooey center. Then I began thinking through all the ways I know how to soothe myself. Honor my needs. Use my voice. Take care of my body. Support my psyche. Feel my feelings. Share my truth. Request and receive support.
I did a mental flip through my Rolodex of curated self-care options. I asked myself what I ask my clients, “what do you need right now”? I sat with it because it’s not always immediately apparent what you need when fight or flight kicks in.
I realized I needed to re-focus my attention on something that would make me feel useful and productive. Something that would either directly or indirectly connect me to my commitment to serve others. So, I went to return a blouse and scoop up a couple of other options that I needed for my upcoming re-brand photoshoot.
I decided to skip making dinner and grabbed a pizza because I was too mentally and emotionally tapped out to put together a meal as simple as tacos. I had two glasses of wine ( well 2 and a ½ – let’s be real). I went to bed early very much looking forward to my massage the next day. I thanked myself for being smart enough to book the appointment.
In the first 20 minutes of the massage, my therapist said “I feel a great deal of sadness coming from you.” I nodded and let myself cry in front of her. I took myself out to lunch and then I lounged on the couch for the rest of the day. I openly talked about things that I needed to talk about with my husband when he brought up Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh testimonies. It wasn’t easy, but I told him I was trying to be brave.
You see, I’ve told my stories in therapy and skimmed the surface with a couple of close friends, but I am new to openly discussing my experiences out loud with my husband, family members and the community at large. I finally feel healed and strong enough to do so, and yet it still requires an insane amount of courage. I want to speak openly, but I can only do so when I am ok. As I’m writing this, I’m ok. But it took me going on a roller coaster ride of NOT BEING OK to checking in with myself, discovering what I needed and then honoring those needs.
If you find yourself NOT OK for whatever reason, create enough space and connection with yourself to get clear on what you need. And then go do that. Take a nap. Go for a run. Read a book. Have a chat with a supportive girlfriend. Book an appointment with your therapist. Find a new therapist. Do some tapping. Try chanting. Shift your energy with some Reiki. Take a dance class. Slam the ropes at the gym. Pour your heart into your journal. Eat some ice cream. Slip into child’s pose and breathe. Scream till the rage is gone in the private container of your car. Meditate. Drink some tea. Sleep in. Skip a meal. Make an elaborate dinner.
Do whatever it takes, and when that’s not enough, and you still aren’t ok, please don’t push through. Stop, re-evaluate and do more self-care. Keep honoring your needs over and over again until you are ok.