or, why I don't call.
1. Consider your flesh. When you think about talking to them, how tight does your chest get? How hard do you have to swallow to pull breath past the scar tissue still forming in your throat?
2. Consider objectivity. Your fear is irrational. It is a ghost. It is a shadow, and no more substantial than that. It has form only in your body. Return to step 1.
3. Consider ghosts. There is a story of a monk who knew he would be visited by a spirit. He tattooed protective runes into his skin, but could not finish his ears before night fell. The spirit grasped him as sound does, and entered him as sound does, and hollowed him as sound does. Only the runes remained. Return to step 2.
4. Consider your triggers. Consider cost. Consider recovery. Consider that time functions both as line and as circle. Consider that remembering is revisiting. Consider how long it's taken you to escape. Return to step 3.
5. Consider their voices. Return to step 3. Return to step 4.
6. Consider the difference between lancing a boil and cutting through a still-healing wound. Return to step 5.
7. Consider that meaning does not exist without difference. Return to step 6.
8. Consider how long it will be until a conversation is not a trigger pull, until you will be safe from ghosts. Consider that you tried to think objectively once.
9. Put down the phone. Walk away. You are not strong enough to speak yet, or to breathe through your listening.