Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Vulnerability

It has been a little over a  year since I sat in the Doctors office and received the news that I was losing my hearing.  The exact diagnosis being moderate to severe hearing loss in both ears with no explanation of why.  To me, it seems like yesterday and yet so much has happened since that day. My breath catches as I remember how the shock washed over me as the Doctor showed me my hearing on paper.  And with each word he spoke it would intensify and leave me wanting to pretend it wasn't real.  But it was, and is.  The reality now is that my hearing continues to deteriorate.  I hope that those of you just joining me will take the time to read my first blog post in order to shed some light on the issues I am having and help catch you up for my future updates.

http://theabsenceofsounds.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-absence-of-sound.html

Yes, the past 12 months have been a time of great change for me and my family.  To make sense of things, I have used the blog to chronicle the outline of this unplanned journey.  It has and continues to help me work through my feelings in a non threatening almost anonymous platform.  While this provides a necessary outlet, as of late it has seemed a little too safe.  I determined that if I am going to stretch myself and really put to use what I have been learning on this quest then I need to become vulnerable.  What is vulnerability?  For me, vulnerability at this point in time is posting my blog link onto Facebook. 

I began to consider this course of action about six months ago but never got up the nerve.  At the time, I talked myself out of it because I felt there were too many drawbacks to hanging myself out emotionally naked for all of Facebook to see.  It wasn't until this past week that I decided to move forward with the idea.  It was made clear to me as I looked at my newborn daughter because I realized that vulnerability can be a beautiful thing. 


I have spoke before on my blog about vulnerability and specifically mentioned a Ted speech by Brene Brown.  Click the link below to read that post and see the speech I am referring to.

http://theabsenceofsounds.blogspot.com/2013/02/authenticity-my-new-years-outlook.html  

I'll be honest, her words moved me greatly and then left me stagnant where I am today.  Because to speak your mind even when you don't know how others will respond takes courage and yet vulnerability goes even one step deeper than that.  So deep in fact that you have to stop living in fear of what others think.  Now I am a person that is always concerned with what someone might be surmising about me.  In response to that crutch I pay careful consideration to how I look, what I wear and what I buy.  If I feel inadequate in this area it will show up by allowing tiny insecurities to get the better of me.  Getting past what other people think is not an easy task.  In fact it is only very recently that I have found the strength to start working on overcoming it by showing myself and others grace. 

Oddly enough embarking on this path has opened my eyes to something very elementary:

  • If I don't judge others then consequently I don't feel so judged.  

  • If I don't talk about others when they are not around then I stop thinking that others are talking about me.  

It is a mindset, a matter of retraining the process by which you look at the world.  Changing your perspective is the road to freedom my friends.  If only it were that simple.

Vulnerable:   susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm. 

In my daily life I would say I am vulnerable about 25% of the time.  This isn't a brag, and shouldn't be, but rather this is a window into what is my daily comfort.  You see, I am surrounded by those that know and love me and to whom I am transparent.  For some of you 25% vulnerability might be a lot.  To me it is the adjustment I made when my hearing loss began.  Because even though everyone directly around me is aware of the issue it does not make it any less of a crack in my normal confidence. 

Losing my hearing has made me very vulnerable.  Webster's definition sits above, does it sound like a good attribute to have?   Not on paper or black and white but in theory, yes it does.  Being vulnerable means letting others in and actually living.  No one can keep it in a neat clean box all of the time, so when the ribbon bursts and out comes all the stale old candy that you think will ruin your life just pause.  Take time to look around and see what really happens, you might be surprised.  I am betting at least one person will pick up that battered starlight mint and give it a try not caring that it might taste a bit old and not laughing at you for failing to have something fresh.  Those are your true connections in this life so why not toss it out there and weed out the real from the fake.  

In my daily life I don't tell strangers about my ears nor do I ever mention it to new people I meet.  In general, outside of this blog I do not discuss it unless asked.  It is not because I am embarrassed rather I just don't desire all of the attention on me.  Even when I feel badly at work because I must ask customers to repeat their names I still don't take the time to say that I am hard of hearing, instead I just look up at their mouth when they repeat it.

When those that are aware want to talk about it I am happy to oblige.  This has been a time of great learning for me and I enjoy sharing what I know.  It always surprises me the number of times someone will have another friend or loved one who is struggling with something similar.  Matters of the ears are way more common than one might think. 

Vulnerability.

When I was talking to a good friend the other day we got on the subject of a "surface society".  What I mean by that is this:

"Hi, how are you?"

"I'm fine!  What about you?"

"Yeah everything is great."

Conversation ends and the two people walk away.  Even though one just found out his wife had cancer and the other just lost their job.

So why are we such a "surface society" that gives the appearance of caring without really putting in the effort?  Is it that we don't really care, don't have time, or are too caught up in our own problems?

Vulnerability

Facebook actually facilitates this way of thinking.  We post pictures of our families (always happy) and post updates (that we write and re-write to make sure we sound pulled together and happy).  It is what I call, the cliff notes of our lives - happy version.

Occasionally you will come across an "honest" Facebook poster that will put negative thoughts and things that are happening in their life.  95% of us shake our heads as we read those updates and wonder why they are posting it.  But why not?  We are such a messy species when it comes to life and only in the struggles do we really reveal our true selves.  And no matter how together we hope and wish we are it will simply never get to a point where we are happy all of the time.  There are those that are sick and in need of prayer who post requests.  Personally, I love those but not because friends and family are ill rather because it gives us an opportunity to truly participate in their lives. 

I'm a happy picture Facebook poster.  I don't ever post about something going wrong.  Not because things don't get ugly but because I go to my small group of confidants and work it out there. 

So in the spirit of vulnerability I say to all of my Facebook friends this is the new me.  I can't hear worth crap (which makes it great that you only talk to me via the computer) and it seems to be getting worse.  

If anyone wants to comment I would love the feedback.  Write what you want and don't let what people think hold you back.  Dare to be susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm, or rather dare to be...vulnerable.

And in fairness to vulnerability - it has taken me more than two weeks to actually get up the nerve to take the leap of faith and update my status and link this blog.  Thanks for reading.