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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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Have you ever felt invisible?

  • You know the moment when you have a FABULOUS idea and no one will listen.
  • Or perhaps, when you were waiting for a call from someone who simply chooses to disappear without warning.

For me, I think I was invisible for nearly my entire childhood until I went to Israel for high school when I was 16 years old. And even then, I wonder if I was mostly invisible until I was in my forties. I may never really know.

As a child, I am not sure that I understood how to engage in normal ways. I had no idea how to interact as others did. My guess is that I learned to fake it because I was an actress. In truth though, I was invisible. No one really knew me or much less saw me. If they did, they would have had to look inside themselves in order to understand why they stood by and did little or in most cases nothing for a thoroughly battered young girl.

I grew up in what many refer to as idyllic neighborhood outside Baltimore. Yet I will never understand how the neighbors growing up on Pikeswood Drive, my extended family that lived within 3 miles, and my school community could have closed their eyes to the child that stood in front of them, next to them, or within their worlds. Perhaps I was a fabulous actress, I doubt it. More than likely, the adults simply did what felt easiest for them. They closed their eyes, their ears, and their hearts; more likely than not they choose to stay disengaged.

With that disengagement, I had to learn how to navigate a world that made no sense. As a young child, I never wondered why folks didn’t show up. I do now, but back then, it was simply my norm. And that norm was so lonely to navigate.

I have a distinct memory of believing that all my screams were silent when I was a little girl. They weren’t. I have one distinct memory of seeing my mother passed out from one of her many drunks and me screaming at the top of my lungs.  There were no words just what I would describe now as a guttural cry. At a ripe young age, I learned that no one could hear my cries and no one really cared. As I got older, I remember creating a silent scream, I would feel my mouth open, my heart race, and my tears roll down my face, but no sound came. My life experience had taught me to hold my pain inside.

To make matters complicated, I was seriously hearing impaired as a young child. If my memory is correct, I didn’t really hear until I was about 5 years old. I am not sure how I communicated or even if anyone understood me before that time. While I remember other sensations, I don’t remember real communication.

And even when I did start to hear, I knew without a doubt that I spoke funny, everyone struggled to understand me, and besides I could barely hear what people were saying anyways. Somehow along the way I was blessed to learn how to read lips. And over time, I learned how to “act” normal. I even learned how convince my schools that I understood what was going on in the classroom, but that was another one of my lies; I was simply acting.

Reading lips opened up the door to real communication. I am not sure when I figured out that I needed to see people’s lips in order to hear them, but wow did my life get a little easier. While I have never read lips fluently, what I do does help me connect with people.

Lock EyesAs I got older, I learned that I could really connect with people by looking at their lips, reading their expressions, and really locking deeply into their eyes.

Eyes speak volumes and when you look deeply into the eyes that you are facing, you remind yourself and the person in front of you how present you are. When you are locking deeply into the eyes of whoever you are facing you are actually saying “Hineini/I am here”! Our conversation is the most important conversation in the world.

While I don’t always lock eyes, it truly is one of the most holy ways to fully engage with another human being. After a childhood of believing I was invisible, being seen and heard and doing the same for others feels INCREDIBLE.

SARK, my spirit mentor and teacher ends many of her letters with:

You are seen, You are known, You are loved.

After years of being invisible, I believe that the only way that I can see people, know people, and love people is by listening to both their spoken and unspoken words.

To this day, I still have brief moments when I feel invisible, the only difference is that all I have to do is reach out to my beautiful tribe of beloveds that are there for me.

Make sure you take time to lock deeply into other’s eyes. I promise you that it will by one of the holiest connections you will experience.

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.

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Blogging is what I do.  I love writing and sharing my heart, my mind, and my soul.

Reflection Time Selfie

Reflection Time Selfie

If this is your first time reading this series of my blog, please take a moment and read the introduction Elul Journey: A New Year Is Emerging – 5775  http://t.co/Y6vmXdO6GJ

Today is 17 Elul or 13 days until 5775; it is a time to reflect and to choose ways in which I can best move towards the High Holy Days and the days that follow.  While it is not easy to navigate life’s journeys, I always get to decide how to approach my life.  In this moment, I am choosing to walk gently and embrace each step with openness.  As I say this, I also realize that this would be a good time for a reality check.

During each blog post of my Elul Journeys, I will share a poem, a saying, a teaching that has helped me navigate the world.  Let me know what you think!

~ ~ ~

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
Quote by Dr Seuss

~ ~ ~

When I was in my late teens or early 20’s, I worked as a counselor for the Tikvah Program, a fabulous special needs program at Camp Ramah in Palmer, Massachusetts.  While there, I learned important lessons that continue to impact my life to this day.  The most significant one came from the head of the program who enlightened me by sharing that each and every one of us is unique and also has special needs.

If every one is unique and special, that means I should be cognizant of this reality by consciously honoring each person for who they are.  One of  my biggest goals in life is to make people feel good whenever they connect with me.  I am far from perfect, but I try to interact with others in a very conscious way.

The bottom-line is that every being in this world matters.

I am so tired of living in a society where people show disdain for those those that may have limitations or for those that are the wrong color, size, religion, economic background, etc.  All people are human beings.  Showing someone respect or kindness should be a given unless they have done something very tangible to hurt you.

As a child, I was picked by my own mother and the kids at school because of my own limitations.  I was:

  • slow
  • hearing impaired
  • Jewish
  • fat
  • from a dysfunctional family
  • and more. . .

Eventually I grew up and became more self assured, but growing up sucked in every way.  The good news is that a long the way, I did have friends and family that helped me navigate the harsh realities of being who I was.  And I was able to grow up and become comfortable in my own body.  The point here is that it hurts when people are picked on because. . . .

Since we are all part of the same universe (“no matter how small”), may we all act as if everyone counts.

With blessings & light,

Chava

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