Monday, December 29, 2014

Hear No, Speak No, See No Anything.....And Then - Perspective

Hear no, Speak no, See no anything....and then, perspective.

A couple of weeks ago I lost my voice.

Complete laryngitis.

Those of you that know me personally are probably laughing if not guffawing at the thought of me being silenced.  I don't have to self reflect to know fully that I am not a natural born listener.  All through school my only complaint from countless teachers when I was in class, - "She talks to much."

You would think that upon the loss of my hearing the listening would have actually improved due to the extra detail and attention I must pay to a conversation but alas that simply is not the case. I do listen but, as you are talking I am already formulating my response or story that I am going to tell in relation to the topic that we are talking about. This, coupled with my hearing loss probably makes me about the worst listener ever.  I have to say that my husband and oldest son would back me up on this and I don't blame them.

Truly, it isn't intentional but rather reflexive.  Even still, it's a fault.  One that can be, with great effort, changed.  The trick is figuring out how to slow down my thought process in order to hang with a conversation in the present and not the future.

I thought losing my hearing was a hurdle.

Not being able to talk was a major road block.
  • Four failed drive through attempts at Starbucks, 
  • Ten phone calls that I hit answer on before remembering I couldn't speak. 
  • Three days of not being able to do my job.
  • Countless thoughts that were never verbalized.
  • Mountains of fear as I realized that communication was confined to those who could read and write which did not include two of my children.
  • Sadness in a new form seeped into my life as the limitations of not having a voice prevented me from being my true self. 

Then, born out of the murky water of self doubt a bit of clarity made way for the "under construction me" to emerge.  Perspective.

Chatting freaking Cathy still voiceless after four days was brought to a halt with nowhere to hide. Perspective.

Listening with no rebuttal on the tip of my mind or coincidental story waiting to be spoken. Perspective.

You see, I have been on this self changing journey for the last 5 years or more and its central reoccurring theme has been with the word perspective.

As a child of the 80's labels, name brands and pretty much being cool were the only thing that mattered in life.  Judging was the easiest pastime and my friends and I were the best at it. Empathy, back story or reasoning were silenced by back stabbing laughter.  My young writer's mind was more interested in constructing shallow paper cut outs of people that carried no weight or depth than using my intuition to learn more.  Judge or be judged was the fear that fueled our constant commentary.

A few years ago on and old blog I wrote a post about envy.

And let me take a minute here to plug that blog - I'll Shut Up Now, Thanks  I poured my heart into it and the writing is good.  If you have time, each post is worth a read.  I overcame a lot of fear and was able to write honestly by keeping it anonymous but I am so very proud of it now - there is no shame.

Here is the link just to the post on envy.

The Simple Life

I still believe we were built and designed as seekers.  I envied their simple life and viewed mine no matter how blessed as too complicated.  From that day on life, people and my journey changed.

I had no idea that this was the start of the new path my life would start to take.  That everything was working in perfect accord to prepare me for the moments of the future, to include this very one.  To help me find contentment in the chaos.

You see, without a voice I felt like no one noticed me.  I simply sat and listened wishing that I could comment but knowing it was impossible.   And so it was that conversations went on around me and the picture of their words were bright colors of streaming light passing around me in every direction.  Only some of them were loud enough for me to hear and so the others would have to be content to drift off in the air as I would never know what was said.

I purposely didn't strain my brain during this time to hear everything when the talk was around me and not at me.  Instead I focused more on my kids and what they were doing. I observed like my one year old daughter who also doesn't say a word.

This position was frightfully enlightening.  Because while my voice would most assuredly return in a few days, my hearing would not.  And if it continued on a the path that would lead me into silence.... what would happen to my voice?   Perspective.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Peace Does Not Always Equate To Passiveness - Likewise War Does Not Always Breed Productivity

Peace does not always equate to passiveness - likewise war does not always breed productivity.

I grew up believing the very opposite of that.  I absolutely felt as if peace equated to passiveness and that only through a steady hum of fighting we were able to keep control over every situation in our lives.  That the desire to better oneself needed to born out of urgency or you simply let opportunities pass you by.

Because of those beliefs I have lived a very stress filled life in quite a hurried fashion. By being the type of person who likes to know something first. By always planning every minute of everyday in an effort to keep everything running smoothly and within certain time parameters.  By HATING being late.

I drive myself into a hole of expectations that is not only unattainable and unrealistic but toxic. If I do not feel stressed out and project that urgent vibe onto others then I feel as if I am not doing my job.  That current alone is all it takes to make me feel like nothing is ever enough.  So, instead of celebrating and looking back over my day in the evening, I will sit already lost in the planning of tomorrow. 

And I now know that I was hiding.  It is so easy to do isn't it?  To hide in chaos or noise.  To push aside emotion in an effort to keep on task.

Losing my hearing has created an item that does not fit into that "controllable" category which in turn has thrown off my internal axis.  Immediately my mind started to question how I would live with something so constantly unpredictable.  That was when all of the above began to unravel one string at a time.

I was going to have to be a passive passenger and somehow be OK with that.

Chris and I were just discussing this topic last night.  I was reflecting that if I receive bad, or life changing news I respond with an undeniable calm.  In my mind I begin to instantly challenge myself to rise to the task or occasion through various steps and expectations that give me the ability to feign control.

But when something small breaks down I completely fall apart.  It is like I am OK leaving the path to fate as long as I can control the road with which I walk upon.  For example, redirect my route and I adjust like a GPS but throw construction on a road without a prior warning and everything comes to a screeching halt.

Using this blog has been a way to help me through that.  By giving me a voice it helps me feel some sense of control inside of an uncontrollable issue.   And through this outlet I began to realize that just because losing my hearing was not what I would have chosen or designed for my life that it could still be something beneficial.  That during my passive ride I could have time to do other things and most importantly that in this gift of peace I could actually be more productive.

In the peace I can be productive.

I feel truly privileged to have this space to write and be simply, me.  Thank you for giving my inner ramblings a place to surface.  Most of the time items here on the blog will be those that bother me.  Writing has always been a good way for me to work though things.  However I don't want the happy moments to get sidelined or forgotten because the truth is my life is good and I have never felt more blessed by the people around me.  I am continually impacted by their ability to love, support and walk with me on this journey.   I wanted to take this time to say how much I appreciate those closest to me and the ways that they accommodate my issue.

Especially Chris, who gallantly rescues me from a hearing blunder at least once a day in several various settings such as these:

Bailing out Carter from repeating what he said to me.
Deciphering Chases' two year old speak.
Letting me know when Caitlyn is crying.
Asking curiously, what is that beeping? 
Nudging my acceptance of the issue through laughter.
Encouraging me to continue to take risks.

And then there is my amazing son Carter.  He is a wonderful child but I can see that out of everyone else in my life he truly feels the next level of frustration.  It is a hurdle for both of us that I have to look directly in his face to grasp what he is saying but as his voice deepens I hope this will improve.  He also gives me signals and nudges when sounds are not serving their purpose with me. 

My parents and family uplift me with their concern and prayers.  Their everyday discussions about my hearing make it seem so much more normal and a part of not just my life, but theirs.  I am honored that they love me enough to reach out in this way.

My friends (from those who I see regularly to those that I only talk to online) provide so much emotional support I have to thank them for being a safety net when I am outside of my home and away from my comfort zone.

Thank you to those I interact with daily as I know how frustrating it can be.  I want you to know that it is a compliment of the highest level if I am asking you to repeat.  It means I truly care about our conversation and want to make sure I understand you completely.

As I have mentioned before, I feel whole and at peace even in the midst of this.  My network of support and belief in God has facilitated this attitude.  Which is why I believe that I am able to be so open and honest on this blog and remain mentally healthy through this journey. 

 I now know that anxiety and fear do not need to be the motivating factor in your desire to live.  Drive can also come from a place of peace if you can find it.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

There is no CURE, only TREATMENT

I'm sorry I have been MIA.  I wish it could be blamed on my busy life but that issue is really only secondary.  The primary reason for not blogging is that talking about my specialist appointment has been hard.

I know that in my last post I wrote that I was "getting it" with regards to there being no cure or fix for my issue but, it seems that simply wasn't true.

There is no CURE, only TREATMENT.

The specialist visit was far worse than all of the hearing aid appointments combined.  Not simply because of the identical apathy that was shown to me by the staff and doctors but more because the indifference was coming from the ones who are at the top of their field.  And if there was no hope at the top then....

I am still trying to fully understand what that means.

The office visit went a little something like this:   

"Yep, it looks like there has been some change."  The Doctor nodded as he read my chart, his eyes finding mine.  Silence ensued.

I wait in the awkwardness hoping that he will give some answer, some treatment plan or medicine prescription but no words were spoken.

Finally I cracked.  "So, this is it then?  It is and will continue to get worse and I just need to live with it?"

That was when it all started sinking in.  Gosh, I can be hard-headed.   How many times does it need to be repeated before I understand, realize and more importantly believe that

there is no CURE, only TREATMENT.

Was this what it felt like when people first started losing their sight?    I mean I have mentioned before that hearing aids are the "glasses" for our ears.  With only one small difference being that while glasses correct us back to perfect sight, the hearing aids only grant a bit more sound.  

The specialist did actually go on to say that I am not a candidate for cochlear implants at this time. But that I will have yearly appointments with him so that when my hearing does get that bad he will let me know. I was surprised to learn that his office is on the cutting edge of some very innovative new techniques with cochlear implants.  They are starting to fine tune them much like the hearing aids have been modified to help those who only lose part of their hearing and not all.

Take my loss for example, I have only lost the high pitched sounds and so my hearing aids allow my ear to hear the lower sounds without amplification while simultaneously turning up the high pitched noises.  Soon the cochlear implants will be able to do the same thing.  This is great news for me as it will be easier to adapt to the new way of hearing with some of my old lower tones remaining the same.  

I left feeling indifferent. I was neither upset nor happy. Instead I felt like I was wandering. It is simply hard to deal with something that feels so beyond my control.

There is no CURE, only TREATMENT.

Since that day I have started to become more bold about my ears. Now when I don't hear something that is said I make it clear to the person that I am at a loss. It really doesn't matter who it is I simply shrug my shoulders and respond, "I'm sorry, I don't hear so well."

When I say those words out loud I use a very pleasant voice but inside of my head that little admission is laced with attitude. Not towards the people I am talking to but towards myself.  It is a challenging and provoking tone prodding me to simultaneously move beyond my internal comfort zone and push others to accept me for who I am.

You see, I no longer wish to move throughout a conversation without being able to navigate the waters.  I have too much fight in me for that.  I want to contribute and participate and be a part of what is said.  Socially, my lack of hearing has influenced me to avoid certain events and gatherings.  I will not allow that any longer.  I have never been the type of person who is content on the outside or the fringe merely observing.  I want to live my life to the fullest in every area.

My new treatment is to force you and I to deal with my hearing, head on.  I will shove it into the conversation with daring bravado and then wait to see who turns to run.  I feel as though this must happen and is part of the emotional healing process. It allows me to see this as a long term, ongoing issue that must be addressed and dealt with.

This feels like me. 

There is no CURE, only TREATMENT.

I have spent most of these past few months being grateful that it is not cancer or one of my children suffering.  Rather something that I, by the grace of God seem to be equipped to handle.