The (Not-So) Easy Lessons of Hearing Loss

Does any of this seem like you, sometimes? Ever? Always?

 

It’s EASY to convince ourselves that we’re doing OK with our hearing loss:

That we’re catching most of what’s said, 

At least the important stuff – the rest’s not really worth listening to

And no, we don’t intend to do anything about it

Like a hearing aid or cochlear implant – 

That’s for other people, who have real problems.

 

It’s EASY to give in to the emotional rollercoaster of hearing loss:

    Because nothing has ever prepared us for this, 

    This…invisible separation…from what we are used to, 

And the people we were close to.

    It’s like standing outside, looking through a window

    Rapping on the glass and trying to talk to our family on the inside.

    It hurts. It’s exhausting.

 

It’s EASY to slip into bad habits of bluffing, of tuning out:

    Because we just can’t get what’s being said, 

Even though we’re trying so hard to follow.

It makes us tired

And before we even realize it, 

We’re nodding and smiling as if we’re totally in the conversation

And we hope no one calls us on it.

Because we would be embarrassed – and they would be irritated.

 

It’s EASY to blame other people for communication breakdowns:

“They won’t face me, 

They forget all the time, 

They just…they just don’t get it.

Even though I’ve explained it

Over and over again.

I’ve done all I can and now it’s up to them

Hell, I’m the one with the damn hearing loss!

How about a little consideration?”

 

It’s EASY to blame our hearing loss for everything that’s not going right:

    “My relationship would be better if it wasn’t for my hearing

    My kids wouldn’t laugh or take advantage of me

    I would be happier at work,

I’d feel better about myself

If I didn’t have to use all my energy 

On trying to communicate, 

Or trying to hide my problem completely. 

And don’t tell me that’s wrong, that I shouldn’t do it – 

I’d like to see you struggling every day, all day,

With hearing loss like mine.”

 

It’s EASY to let hearing loss define us:

    Life was better before.

    Now it’s not.

    My hearing loss affects everything, 

    Everything I do, everyone I talk to.

    I am my hearing loss.

 

No one ever said that having hearing loss is easy. But sometimes it seems too hard, especially in pandemic-time when we’re expected to read lips through masks and plexiglass.

 

We all have bad hearing days when we want to retreat, with our head in our hands and moaning in frustration over the relentless pressure of communication gone wrong. But if we stay in hiding, if we keep crying, our negative attitudes will harden into a cement we might not break free from.

 

There’s another easy lesson if we want to take it: help is available  

 

If you – or anyone you know – is struggling with hearing loss, reach out for help. Speak to your doctor or visit a hearing care professional. Contact a hearing loss group in your community, or online, where there are people with hearing loss who understand what you’re going through. They will help. 

 

Reach out. It’s the easiest lesson of hearing loss. 

 

(Note: this is an update of my article of September 2013).

 

About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog for HearingHealthMatters.org, which has an international following, Gael wrote the acclaimed book "The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss". She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work, which includes advocacy for a more inclusive society for people with hearing loss. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

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