When I was 7 my father died. Soon after, my grand-mother noticed my ears weren't working properly. The village country doctor decreed that I was simply slow of hearing. Fourteen years later when I finally got my ears checked properly, it turned out that I'm just plain deaf. Sometimes I feel grateful about being deaf... sometimes I don't. This is a post about some of the impacts being deaf has on me as a mother, a lover and a friend. The Benefits
Sometimes I feel grateful about being deaf. Loud noises don't bother me at night. And I know this is the opposite of what I should do, but it's what I do do, for sometimes when I meditate I take out my hearing aids and hey presto outer distractions are removed and all I gotta contend with are those inner ones (which are unfortunately slightly harder to remove).
Being partially deaf also helps socially. Because there can be so much conversational baloney taking place which I have difficult navigating so that sometimes yes I'm inwardly going thank god I'm deaf! Because if you are deaf you can kind of get away with shrugging your shoulders, pointing to your ears and saying "I'm so sorry, I just can't hear very well." End of conversation. But then again I don’t think I really mean that, or at least it's not the whole story because the birds are singing and I miss so much.
When my daughter was born I slept with my hearing aids on, worried that I wouldn’t hear her if she woke and needed me in the middle of the night. As it was Eve for the most part of her life has shared a bed with me, and in those early days her face would sleep close to mine, so that any whisper she did make my ears heard well enough so that I could respond. (Although my mind doubted my bodies abilities and so kept me on red alert for a good long stint of time with aural hallucinations so that even when my daughter wasn't, I would wake hearing her cries).
When she was 7months old, I took Eve for her second hearing check. I never realized how worried I was that my daughter too might be deaf until the doctor said she’s absolutely fine and all the muscles in my body relaxed and I exhaled for the first time since walking into the doctors room and I think, because I can’t quite remember because you push these things away, but I think I couldn’t help but go oh my god thank god: Evie’s going to be able to hear.
Because there is a loss. And generally I don't really think about it but the other night with friends I did and realising it, or admitting to the experience of loss felt better then simply okay. Because it can get so damn exhausting straining and trying and wondering and concentrating as you try to hear what others say. That sometimes you just give up.
And that's a shame because hearing what others have to say can be illuminating, inspiring and bring you closer to them. Certainly there have been moments when people have opened their hearts to me which more often then not means their voices dip, or the acoustics in the room haven't been so good, or one of my batteries has run out (they are forever running out) and I make silent pleas to life, to my body, to my ears: oh please hear them, please let me hear what they are about to say. Because it's been a training to develop the confidence to ask people to speak louder, because the thing is generally people don’t like being asked "can you say that again?" Not all people, just some people. And so I try and avoid it wherever, if ever I can.
Timing Is Everything
In the past I have had boyfriends who would suddenly open up to me late at night, just as I had taken my hearing aids out, so that I would lie there wishing and desperately straining to hear the words they were speaking, offering me a whisp of the connection I longed for and hoping that somehow I would catch the essence of what they were saying, because I gave up on the specifics long ago.
But then I am pretty lucky, for though last thing at night and first thing in the morning I am more mole then human (the eyes arn't great either), because of my mother I have the best hearing aids I can get and all I need to do to get the sight sorted is pop two bits of plastic into my eyes. But if I were a farmer with not much money whose livlihood and family depended on me herding sheep and goats and cows who I need to see and hear then I would be struggling. Struggling or bending down to cry.
Lost In Translation
I met a deaf girl once who was born deaf and needed someone to sign for her so that she could speak with others. And the lady who was signing started signing for me but pretty soon the girl and I were chatting away, no signer needed, simply because we understood one another. I knew her struggles and she knew mine. And the hearing people watched and the sign-language lady said the thing is even I struggle to interpret her sometimes because she said, though I have sympathy I cannot have empathy.
Snores of a silent world
But there's something in the song of the birds that is pulling at my heart strings. Birdsong: it's so beautiful, recently I feel as if am hearing it for the first time. How come I never really noticed it before? Somehow though, since becoming a mother it has become a huge part of my day. For these things we come to know, with us being human, we never know how precious things are until we loose them.
But suddenly here I am hearing the songs of the birds. Of course when I take out my hearing aids they stop, they stop even though they continue but right now I am wearing them and I can hear them sing but as for other sounds like the snores of my daughter, these are not for me to hear. At least until I put these hearing aids back on.
But you know, I'm #throwingthenetopen with silence who has its own sound: and its one I’ve grown to love.
Over to you...
Please do share with friends and family you think this may resonate with. Thank you x