Subject: Fear of phone calls
Date: Jun 04, 2009
Author: Simon in Oz

One of my hangovers from living in a controlling cult is my reaction to the phone ringing at home. I am perfectly comfortable with my phone at work, but I feel very anxious when I hear the phone ring at home.

I first developed this paranoia when I was a bishop. Within weeks of being called, I was harassed by several inactive members seeking financial assistance. I also became embroiled in a stoush between the deaf members of the ward I was leading. It was an enormously stressful period that basically lasted throughout my tenure. Most bishops experience the same crap. Then after leaving the cult, I had several very stressful phone calls with family members that have left me emotionally wasted.

Thank you Mormonism for this wonderful gift.

Am I alone in my paranoia?

Subject: You are not alone......
Date: Jun 04 08:28
Author: Cezoram

I developed an absolute loathing for using the telephone, and especially hearing it ring, while I was in the bishopric. Telephones make inconveniencing people too blasted easy.

Even though I've been away from that insanity for over 12 years, I still feel a nervous "start" (mild shock?) whenever the phone at home rings, I never answer phones, I'll never talk on one unless I already know who it is, and I'm the only adult I know that doesn't own one of those electronic shackles (cell phone).

Thank goodness for e-mail!

Subject: Re: Fear of phone calls
Date: Jun 04 05:29
Author: Lovechild

Nope, You are not alone. DW [dear wife] is still TBM [Mormon] so I am still fielding some of the calls intended for her. I wonder why they always seem to call right at dinner time?


Subject: Paranoia? I'd say your reaction is normal.
Date: Jun 04 05:58
Author: Cheryl

I remember a time in my life when several close relatives were seriously sick and/or dying. I'd flinch whenever my home phone rang.

I mentioned this to my doctor when I was in form some other reason and he said he considered this a normal reaction. He didn't term it paranoia. He said it's just being human and to continue to deal with it.

Mormonism plunges people into abnormal stressful situations where they lose normal control of their at home time and privacy. This bothers some people more than others depending on their family situations and their temperaments.


Subject: Re: Paranoia? I'd say your reaction is normal.
Date: Jun 04 06:19
Author: forestpal

I felt the same way. When the phone rang, I'd think, "Now what do they want." I sometimes wouldn't bother to answer, assuming the call would be something unpleasant. Just having it ring would spoil my happy mood. It got worse when I became inactive, but stopped after I resigned.

This is another reason to officially resign.

For me, it is worse to have the doorbell ring, when I'm not expecting anyone.

I cured my phone phobia, when my son gave me a new phone. I have special rings for my children, friends, business people. My brother and ex-husband each have their own ring, because I don't want to answer their calls unless I'm prepared to take abuse. A bad call could ruin a happy moment with my family, or my concentration on a project, or a meal. You've got to live, you know!

My children installed a peep-hole in our front door.

I never realized how precious privacy is, until we left the cult. I never turn on the porch light, unless we're expecting people to come and go, and I keep the front blinds shut most of the time. We used to be very friendly and open--but no more.


Subject: My privacy is also very precious.
Date: Jun 04 06:25
Author: Cheryl

That's good advice about how to deal with unwanted calls and visitors.


Subject: I still flinch when the ringing first starts and only pick up after checking CallerID
Date: Jun 04 13:00
Author: Tiphanie

My fear of phones was from leaving my abusive ex and the he!! he put me through for how many months as he drug out the divorce to punish me for leaving. Then suddenly he wanted it over quick because he'd got someone else under his spell. Lucky for me he can only terrorize one person at a time or I'd still panic every single time the phone rings...

However, my heart races at times when the phone rings - I need to work on that so it doesn't control me anymore.

Thanks for the good reminder. I hope you find peace with your ringing phones.


Subject: Re: Fear of phone calls
Date: Jun 04 06:27
Author: JBug

The cult is pretty much the reason why my husband and I don't have cell phones--he would be at the beck and call of the cult 24 hours a day. [and, yes, he WOULD give anyone who asks the number--that's his cult training]

He has a hard enough time avoiding them now--he was trained to never say no to the cult for ANY reason. Ah, but being sneaky and not answering the phone is another thing altogether. That's how he manages to stay sane. Around here, they use the people who always say yes until they totally burn out.


Subject: I screen every call coming in on the answering machine, before deciding to pick it up. nt


Subject: Thank goodness for the screen that displays the number of the caller.
Date: Jun 04 07:05
Author: Okie

I've forgotten its proper name but it has revolutionized my phone-answering technique. If I recognize the number and want to talk to that person, I pick up etc etc. I did read of a stake in Utah where members were discouraged from having this call recognition service because church leaders were having trouble getting members to answer their calls.


Subject: Thank you for the memories...
Date: Jun 04 08:43
Author: Lost

No Simon in Oz, you are not alone.

This brings back memories better left suppressed.

When I served as a Bishop, I can't tell you how often I can calls or personal visits between the hours of midnight and 5am. There is absolutely no courtesy in the mormon church for other people and their schedules, period.

I STILL to this day feel a twinge when the phone rings at home. And that was a decade ago.

That's what abuse never really recover.

Is it any wonder we left all these "blessings" behind???


Subject: You are definitely not alone
Date: Jun 04 08:49
Author: 2lazy2login

I have come to hate telephones in general, a necessary evil I guess. It comes from a job of having to answer the phone and usually finding an idiot on the other end.

I now have a job where I still answer phones but I am able to help them and they go away and it isn't my major job function.
At home, I use Caller ID and screen messages and usually have my ringer off.

My family has asked me why I don't make myself more accessible by phone and I tell them that in 30 years, I have received maybe three phone calls that I consider important.


Subject: Your post about the church "ringing" brought back a memory too painful to even relate! nt


Subject: Re: Fear of phone calls
Date: Jun 04 09:28
Author: tofino

Yep, I can relate to the mini panic rush when the home phone rings too.

It bugged me so much some days that I often turn the ringer off when I get home from work to avoid ward members and solicitors.

Most of my friends know my unpublished cell #.

Too many cult members do not respect personal boundaries.

Since we resigned, the calls, home visits have stopped.

Thank you again Kathy for your 'how to resign website'


Subject: My father nearly went crazy as the Bishop - but he couldn't admit it.
Date: Jun 04 09:47
Author: Sad memories

As soon as my father was set apart a young lady in the ward called and wanted to know if she should accept a marriage proposal from a guy she was dating. My dad couldn't admit to her that he had no idea whatsoever.

He got tangled up in the financial problems of his neighbors. People who needed to talk to psychologist were talking to him instead. A fellow needed to go on a mission, but there were "problems" and my father was supposed to solve them somehow.

I remember the look on his face every time the phone would ring. I couldn't tell you how many times his shoulders dropped as he headed out the door for the Bishop's office.

I think he was in hell, but he had to smile somehow through it all. And, yes, it was the phone ringing that nearly drove him crazy. It never stopped ringing.


Subject: Alcoholic brother's calls . . .
Date: Jun 04 10:00
Author: usually not anon

The particular ring of my cell phone triggered my anxiety. Long after his main crises were past, the ring still sent that "Oh, no!" shiver through me. I switched to a delightful chiming ring tone that I now associate with more pleasant calls.

Worked for me . . .


Subject: No, I don't bother to answer the phone most of the time
Date: Jun 04 11:56
Author: CA girl

I just let it go to voice mail. My kids know that if they call and no one answers the first time, call back immediately - if there are two calls back to back, I know to answer the second one. It's like our secret signal to go pick up the phone, it's the kids.

A couple of Sundays ago, my DH said to the bishop (who is a friend of his) "Hey, bishop - what do you say?" to which the bishop replied, not missing a beat "I don't say anything. If I say something, people want something from me."

Poor guy - only in 18 months and already staggering.


Subject: It took me a couple of years after leaving the church before I would pick up the house phone . . . .
Date: Jun 04 12:24
Author: JackMormon'sWife

During our exit we were love bombed incessently. I counted 30 contacts before I stopped counting. A ringing phone set my teeth on edge for a looooong time.

Shannon ;o)


Subject: Re: Fear of phone calls
Date: Jun 04 12:43
Author: dwalk

I hadn't made the connection about my deep aversion to hearing the phone ring after I left the church and all the years of answering it (for and in behalf of my bishop father, my husband, and my hyperactive momo self). Thanks for the insight.


Subject: Sounds to me like all ex-bishops are candidates for PTSD.
Date: Jun 04 13:32
Author: Winter

Considering how messed up Mormons tend to be, and how authority-worshipping they are, bishops must get caught in the crossfire a lot.

Thankfully I left long before I got anywhere near the high-tension wire of being a bish. And Mormons want to go to the CK so they can do that for eternity? WTF.


Subject: Re: Fear of phone calls
Date: Jun 04 13:49
Author: No Moniker

I am always amazed by TBMs who run to their bishop for advice on the most trivial of life's decisions and think nothing of intruding into his personal and family time/space. I guess this goes along with SusieQ's thread about the church being big daddy and the members are children.

The father of my son's good friend was bishop once. Being father of the ward left him no time or energy for his wife and kids. The family fell apart.


Subject: Re: Fear of phone calls - The first thing I noticed when I left.... NO PHONE CALLS!
Date: Jun 04 13:59
Author: SusieQ#1

I used to check my phone to see if it was still working!!! LOL

I didn't fear them, I just got tired of being treated like a child!

I told the story of the person who insisted she HAD to call me at the end of each month to check to see if I did my VTing. I told her, over and over, NO, you do NOT have to call me. She insisted the RS pres told her she had to call!!
ARGH... Impossible!

It's a continual Merry Go Round - trying to grasp the gold ring!


Subject: I don't think you are alone in your paranoia and it sounds very
Date: Jun 04 14:14
Author: mav

normal to me. I can't even imagine the disturbing calls you got and at all hours. I am so sorry. I have a SIL who prayed and talked to the bish about tile in her new kitchen. Just nuts and that would probably be one of your less stressful calls.

I was on call for my job for 24 years about every 5 weeks for a week. I would jump every time the phone rang. I cannot imagine how you dealt with it. I can't imagine bishops or police or firement living at the firehouse for 48 hours and the stressful calls.

It was nice meeting you at an exmo conference in SLC several years ago.


Subject: I hear you Simon. I HATE PHONES!
Date: Jun 04 16:37
Author: Happy_Heretic

I drive my poor MIL crazy because I won't answer the house phone. I don't answer my cell phone either. I have started texting in order to avoid conversations with people. I admit that I never put my phonophobia in the context of a religious associated aversion. Hmmm?

HH =)


Subject: I still refuse to own a personal cell phone!
Date: Jun 04 17:16
Author: Timothy

I have one for business purposes only. My land line has caller id, voice mail and an answering machine with call screening. I don't even touch the damn thing till I know who's on the other end!

Few call just to say "how's it going?" or "let's go have a beer." Most want something and want it at the most inconvenient times.

TBM family members are the worst. They won't call on holidays or other celebratory occasions cause they're too busy being mormons, but if they need something - money in particular - hell, they won't leave me alone!

And that's the main reason I don't own a personal cell phone. I don't want to hear the details of anyone's failed and miserable life while I'm driving or at the movies. That's me and my baby's time. Leave us alone!

My work phone gets turned on at seven in the morning and gets turned off at five in the evening. I figured many moons ago that there isn't anything so terribly important about anyone's terribly important life that can't wait until normal business hours.

Oh, and I don't do weekends neither!



Subject: Spoken like a true Scotsman. :-) n/t


Subject: Am I alone in my paranoia?
Date: Jun 04 17:47
Author: Matt

No. My wife has the same feelings re answering the phone. She's a nevermo.


Subject: I get excited when my phone rings.
Date: Jun 04 17:52
Author: Benjiman Luther

For the past couple of years, DW and I have maintained a landline solely for the purpose of giving the number to people we want to ignore. The ringer is always turned off, and we check messages about once a week.

I have scrupulously protected my cell number, giving it only to people who matter- close friends, family, and business contacts. Church people are not on the need-to-know list.

I'm a freelance professional in my industry, so when my cell phone rings, it's usually for a job, and I love my work so I look forward to those calls. The rest of the time it's someone I care about and am genuinely happy to hear from. Once in a blue moon I get a sales call, and those piss me off, but they are infrequent enough that my quality of life is relatively unaffected.

If I'm busy or not in the mood to talk, I just don't answer. Caller ID and customized ring-tones are the best things ever!


Subject: I often choose not to answer the phone, and it doesn't bother me
Date: Jun 04 18:32
Author: Grey

Sometimes, when the phone rings, I simply don't answer it.

if it interrupts what i'm doing, or gets in the way of me choosing to do nothing, I just don't answer it.

I never wonder who called or feel guilty about letting it ring off. Especially given that the caller can always leave a voicemail (which i may also go days without checking).

If it's a real emergency, the caller would keep calling. But to date, there's never been an emergency.

I feel in control. That whoever is trying to invade my space hasn't made it past the first fence.




Subject: I was a branch pres on my mission, and I got hit up for financial assistance. not to mention..
Date: Jun 04 19:17
Author: anon regular lurker

settling squables from the women in the branch who fought all the time.

This was in the West Indies. The island only had 10 members at the time, but since I was the Pres, and ONLY church figure on the island, everyone came to me for problems. I even had non members hit me up for financial assistance. They somehow figured that since I was a leader of a congregation that I had deep pockets.

I was told specifically NOT to dole out any money for starving members, though with the way they kept track of the money, and what a hassle it would have been to even try to get money to needy members I never wanted to anyway.


Subject: Wow...paranoids unite!!
Date: Jun 04 19:21
Author: Simon in Oz

I was prompted to post because my daughter hogs the phone each night and has the annoying habit of fiddling with the buttons on the phone. She frequently hits the ring tone button.

I was reminded of something Marjorie Newton wrote in Dialogue in 2000. Marjory is an LDS intellectual from Sydney and shares my hatred of phones...all brought about by the cult.

“During regular "Wilford Woodruff Weeks" missionaries tracted ninety hours per week, sometimes for an entire "special" month. Such a schedule required them to knock on doors at extremely early and late hours. Newspapers published many complaints; questions were asked in the Federal Parliament; and one city council even appealed to the New South Wales Attorney-General, who, however, was powerless to intervene. The long hours also meant that missionaries quickly "tracted out" their assigned areas, and to maintain the required "stats," they had to retract the same streets several times over within a matter of weeks. Resentment among the public rose. My husband was a bishop during this period, and by some quirk of fate his name one year appeared first in the Sydney telephone directory under the general heading for the LDS church. My entire family to this day exhibits a pathological reluctance to answer the telephone. We handled so many abusive phone calls from all over Sydney that, in a conditioned response not unlike that of Pavlov's dogs, I eventually had to bolt for the bathroom whenever the telephone rang. On one occasion an extremely angry caller threatened to shoot the next missionaries who knocked on his door but refused to give me his address so that I could tell them not to call there. Sobbing with worry and frustration, I called the mission office to beg them to change the program. I could not get past the mission secretary who predictably assured me the program was inspired. A shift worker rang from his job at 2:00 a.m. He also refused to identify himself but told my husband that we were going to find out what it was like to have our sleep disturbed. Thereafter the phone rang every hour all night, every night, for several weeks. Few of the irate callers, once having reached us, would accept the number of the mission office to make direct complaints. "

Stupid cult


Subject: Re: Fear of phone calls
Date: Jun 04 20:07
Author: westernwillows

I've been there! But believe me, its not just mormonism that does it =)

I had my identity stolen in 2006, and the endless calls from creditors made me paranoid to answer my phone. About the same time my mother contacted the bishop in my ward to get him to bring me back to the flock, so the calls from the church started as well. It seemed like every phone call I got was one that I was trying to avoid. Even after changing my phone number and getting only a PO Box, both the mormons and the creditors managed to find me. After a LONG battle with both, I wrote my resignation letter and declared bankruptcy, and guess what? The calls stopped!

Bankruptcy and leaving the church were both very similar experiences. Scary, yes, and everyone tells you not to do both, but I have no regrets about either. I still don't answer my phone if its not a number I know and disabled my voicemail, but I don't bury my phone under a pillow every time it rings now. Life is much better =)


Subject: Things I've learned in business
Date: Jun 04 21:03
Author: T-bone

I read all kinds of books on time management. None of them helped.

I finally figured out my problem: interruptions. I had to find a way to cut them out. I have some email tricks, such as an auto-responder that says I will have limited access to email, so I might not get back to the person for a while. That has cut about 1/2 the junk forward I used to get. It's also in my signature line.

I check my email once or twice a day. It's almost 9 pm here and I'm just checking my email for the first time today. Guess what! I didn't miss anything!

When people think you're really busy, they only call you with important matters.

But as for [the phone]:
I only have a cell phone. I set it on silent. I put it in my coat pocket or somewhere away from my desk. We don't have a home phone.

Finally, I stumbled upon these useful lines:
"I'm right in the middle of something. I've got 2 minutes. What can I do for you?"
"I'm just on my way out, but I've got about 90 seconds. What can I do for you?"

That makes them get to the point really fast. If they don't get to the point, just say, "Hey, sorry to cut you off, but I really need to get going." Then don't offer to call them back. Don't say you're looking forward to hearing from them again.

Have you ever talked to a person that really seems to hate talking on the phone? Do you look forward to calling that person again.

I have a colleague that answers the phone like he's half-asleep. Then he grunts one-syllable answers. "No" or "Yup." As a result, I never call him unless it's absolutely necessary.

Finally, I rarely pick up my phone. I have caller ID, and even when I know who it is, I rarely pick up the phone. I'm usually right in the middle of a very important project. So I wait until it's convenient for me.

Here's another thing that works. Set your answering machine to say something like this: "This is Simon. I will have limited access to my telephone during the month of (month). Please leave me a message with an email address where I can contact you." I find that I can solve things with a concise email a lot faster than I can with a phone call. Usually, people calling with trivial matters will not leave an email.

People always ask, "Aren't you afraid of missing a call?" Nope! The last really critical call I got was just before Thanksgiving 2007 when somebody had passed away.

Also, when I email in response to a caller who left their email address, I try to solve the matter in one email. No back and forth. Here's a sample:

Dear Bishop,

I will not be attending the ward Christmas party. Please remove me from your list.

You do NOT owe anybody an explanation.

Here are some other things that help. I sandwich my refusals, just like a sandwich criticism. We've all seen that management technique.

I really like your enthusiasm.

But here's the thing, for business you're going to want to wear something a little more conservative.

Otherwise, I think you did a great job on that presentation. Keep it up.

Thanks in advance!


I sandwich a refusal the same way:

I appreciate your call. I have always thought a lot of you.

Here's the deal. I am not attending church any more. I am asking that I not be contacted in the future.

I hope you enjoy the ward party.

Thanks in advance!


Notice the key phrases? "Here's the deal" and "Here's the thing," and "Thanks in advance!" You're offering to make a deal with them, and you're thanking them in advance for accepting the deal.

Hope this helps.



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