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Posts Tagged ‘elementary school’

Chava'sEar

Until I was 5 or so years old, I don’t remember hearing too much of anything. Perhaps I did hear, perhaps I didn’t hear. I don’t really know.  The story I tell myself and that I recall my parents telling me is that I didn’t hear too well until a few weeks post-surgery when the doctors took my adenoids and also did some exploratory surgery with the bones in my ears.

The truth doesn’t really matter. What I do know is that I have always struggled to hear. And when I was younger, I had nine years of speech therapy just to teach me how to articulate myself clearly. Sigh. And to this day, I often worry that people can’t understand what I am saying. But I digress.

When I was in elementary and junior high school (which is now called middle school), the teachers always assigned me to sit in the first row of the classroom or to sit closest to the front of the room. As a child, this made me made me feel like I was being singled out and I was. For this reason, the first days of school always left me trembling in fear. I hated being different; I so wanted to be like all the rest of the children. Only I never was. In so many ways, I was different, only it took me years to understand them all.

Growing up hearing impaired, I struggled to understand what was going on in the world around me and on rare occasions I still do. While I have always outwardly adapted, inwardly I felt and often still feel awkward and inadequate. At the same time, I have always pushed through these feelings so much so that most people often have no clue how poorly I hear or how I feel about it. From a young age, I learned to compensate by reading lips. While I can’t read lips fluently, what I do makes it possible be able to catch most of what is being spoken. Ultimately, I usual find a way to navigate this internal reality.

Feeling invisible has always plagued me and yet it is so silly because I am far from invisible. My holy work is to quiet or silence the Inner Demon that relives the loneliness of that little girl that often felt unseen and alone.

The good news is that for the most part I rarely allow myself to get bummed about my lack of hearing; however, that is not to say I am OK with it either. Mostly, I go through life teetering through the momentary patches of stupid comments that come out of people’s mouth when they think they are being cute as they say “huh” when I let them know I am hearing impaired. While I outwardly laugh because those people are trying to be funny, I also cringe inside because I have been haunted by this reality my entire life.

Every once in a long while I spiral to that dark place that comes from hating that I miss so much of the world that I deeply love. I miss precious words, social interactions, beautiful music, the rolling thunder, and so much more.

I am blessed to travel in circles that mostly allow me to hear with as much ease as possible. I tend to sit where I can best catch the conversations with as much ease as possible. And when I go to a workshop or a lecture, I hope for amplification, but when there isn’t amplification, I sit either close to the where the speaker will be standing or sometimes where I can best see the facilitator’s lips.  This tends to work most of the time except when it doesn’t.

There was the time that I was at an advocacy training when the facilitator wanted to have all the participants sit within close proximity of him. GREAT IDEA! The only challenge was that all the seats were taken that would have allowed me to be where he wanted me to be and to hear too. So, I did the next best thing, I sat one row back so that I would be able to read his lips. Only that wasn’t what he wanted. He was so focused on preparing for his talk that he seemed to be ignoring that I told him that I needed to sit where I am sitting so that I can read his lips; I was advocating for myself. Instead of saying no problem, he dug his heals in and made me say that I need to read lips two or three more times before he just gave up frustrated. In the end, I stayed where I was sitting. Only by that time I was feeling so marginalized that I barely heard a word he said, and I certainly didn’t want to look at his lips.

The experience made me go into my default mode. Instead of simply being happy that he gave up and I could then go on to hear his talk, I found myself despondent with old wounds opening. I felt so sad and small. I’ve always known I was hearing impaired. Yay! This is my f*cking reality; I live it every day. Reality.

For that 90 minutes, I couldn’t soothe my brokenness. I hated not hearing and I hated missing what people were saying. It was what it was. The shame and embarrassment of having to say that I needed to read lips because I can’t hear was too much for me. No one wants to be differently-abled, but sometimes we have no choice.

My guess is that the presenter had no idea what can of worms he had opened up for me as he was prepping for his lecture. I’ve been there. Nonetheless, I found myself deeply sad and crying throughout the entire day. His one moment of thoughtless left me crumbling inside. Does it make sense? Absolutely not! I am stronger than that, but for the better part of that day old wounds were oozing out and it took time for a new scab to form. The good news is that the presenter apologized after he was done speaking and I gently let him know what he had done.

Meanwhile, I know that once triggers happen, I will ultimately be alright if I take time to nurture my spirit by breathing deeply and feeling the sadness, pain, or any emotion that comes my way. I may not like my lack of hearing, but it is what it is.

Life happens. I am the woman I am because of my life experiences. I am: strong, intuitive, brave, emotional, smart, sensitive, passionate, hearing impaired, and so much more. I do hear now. AND I will one day, probably sooner rather than later, need hearing aids.  I am so OK with this.  In fact, I have “theoretically” always been OK with this. I have simply struggled to find the right hearing aids and the money to purchase them. In truth, if I found the right ones, I would find a way to make it happen.

I got this! I have always had this!

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Thriving: No Option. . . . If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, And if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

Day 55 - Tears Can Cleanse your heart and spirit

 

 

 

 

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Some memories can never be forgotten; they are held tightly in the recesses of the mind.

Somewhere in late elementary school and early junior high school, I figured out that biking was the best way for me to be socially and emotionally safe.  I loved to bike and I was blessed to live in the most fabulous neighborhood for biking.

For me, biking was freedom; as long as I rode my bike I knew I was safe from the perilous experiences of being home.  So, I chose to bike often.

After one of my bike rides, I rode up to my house to find a Swat Team surrounding my house.  The experience was pretty surreal. As an awkward young teenager, I stopped to ask the police officer why a swat team was surrounding my house.  The police officer told me that my mother had called the police to say that gunmen had taken my brother downstairs; she was really quite terrified.

The scene could have been out of a one of the cop TV shows that were so popular in the mid to late seventies; the only challenge (well not really) was that my brother wasn’t actually in the script.  He was a paratrooper in the Israeli army and he hadn’t been in the States for a very long time at that point.

The look in the police officer’s face when I told him about my brother’s whereabouts would have been comical if I hadn’t felt totally mortified at the story that was unfolding.

I am not certain how long the scene lasted.  My guess is that once I told the officer that my brother wasn’t even in this country, it probably wrapped up fairly quickly.  While I wasn’t in the house when all unfolded, I will never forget the years of nightmares that followed.  For years, I re-winded the scene in my head and had nightmares as if my brother really had been held captive.  My brother was everything to me, the thought of losing him was devastating back then and still is to this day.

~ ~ ~

Facing mental illness is absolutely horrific for any family.  My mother was emotionally and mentally a very sick woman who had little or no control over her actions during much of my childhood.  The good news is that regardless of what I endured. . .  I survived, I thrived, and I was always able to keep moving forward.

Resiliency!

Another blessing is that with all I endured, I ultimately emerged as someone who chooses to make the world a better place.  If injustice is happening, I will do my part to make things better.  If I hear about abuse, I try to make certain the right people/organization becomes notified and the situation has a chance of getting the help it needs.  When I met a pregnant, homeless woman with a young child, my family took her in for months until we found her the right placement.  When a friend of mine had brain cancer, my older son and I went to St. Cloud, Minnesota to help care for her and her son.  When I am called to help someone in need or to provide shelter for a traumatized human being, I do it!

I learned from watching the world around me. Most people didn’t lift a finger to help me.  My guess is that they felt helpless or didn’t know what to do. My hope is that people now have their eyes open a little wider and are quicker to do their part.

One of the challenges of mental illness coupled with domestic violence is that, as a neighbor, you may just not notice.  I am not sure how this could have been so especially during the seventies when everyone was playing outside and windows were always wide open.

~ ~ ~

After the police and Swat Team realized my brother was safe and no gunmen could be found, they left.  Surreal.  My mother never really did get the help she needed.

My prayer for today is that this situation would never end that way. May we all be blessed with the capacity to reach out and help and if we can’t help, find someone who can.

BTW, I still love bikes, biking, and photos of bikes. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Randall- Tel Aviv Beach

BTW, I still love bikes, biking, and photos of bikes.
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Randall-
Tel Aviv Beach

Note: Why did I remember this story now? The community I grew up in has a Facebook page, Randallstown, MD – 1970’s and 1980’s,  that suddenly became really active. With that some of my childhood memories have flooded back to me.  At one point, I saw the name of the person who was biking with me on the day of the ‘incident’.  I am not 100% certain he came back with me to the house that day, but I think so. Anyway, judging by his Facebook page, he has grown in very different ways than me. . . so I am not reaching out at this time.   But the memory of this once very special friend brought back the memory of the story above.

 

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