A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

Beautifully Broken by Michele Linder

In Deafness, Hearing Loss, late deafened, Life, Lip Reading on March 29, 2013 at 7:39 pm

Lipreading Mom, Shanna Groves, wants to know “Would you describe hearing loss as brokenness or beautiful?”, and I feel compelled to answer:

Hearing loss cuts both ways. For me, deafness has always held beauty, as I witnessed one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever known live a life of purpose with never a complaint of those things she lacked, among them, hearing. I saw beauty in everything my grandmother did, and to think that I could be like her in any way was a positive. Even sharing her deafness, I felt special, we were connected in a way that no other members of our family were.

My hearing loss taught me so much. It made me who I am, and though I’d love to hear again, I am ever thankful for what I know because of my deafness. That’s the beauty.

The broken comes when you’re down in that dark place, feeling vulnerable, sad, angry, and riddled with grief over a loss that has wrecked your way of living and getting along in the world. It takes time to acclimate and to learn to live with confidence again.

Broken also comes when your third-grade son brings home an audio cassette tape his teacher recorded for you for Mother’s Day–Mrs. Kelly had each student read “Love You Forever” to their mother on tape. My family gathered around as my son gave me his gift, the tape was placed in the casette player, and I waited for it to start. I sat looking confused when no sound came, looking from one face to another as my family looked on in anticipation of my reaction. I burst into tears when I realized that the tape was playing, but I couldn’t hear it. My family surrounded me in that broken moment and I saw beauty in their love and comfort, but the sting of being broken remained for a time.

Broken is when you’re watching an interesting story on TV about the shortage of buglers to play Taps at WWII Veteran’s funerals, complete with a demonstration of a newly developed digital bugle that requires no musical ability to play–it looks and sounds like the real thing and no one is the wiser. As the demonstration begins, I strain to hear the Taps of my memory. When there is no sound, I turn up the volume and wonder what’s wrong with the TV, trying to adjust the controls so that I can hear. Then it dawns on me, it’s not the TV that’s broken, but me, so I ask my husband to come and listen and he confirms that the sound is there. Another broken moment that hits me in the chest like a freight train. I retreat to my room to cry it out, because this is just one more incident in the chain of events that drives me to rock bottom of a progressive hearing loss that began in childhood. Once there, I’m alone in the dark and nothing seems to work anymore.

However, there is good news… in my case, God always provides me with a release once I’ve reached the bottom. He then puts something or someone in my path to help me collect my composure and find the confidence to climb toward what’s beautiful once again.

Here, almost at the end of my hearing ability, I take comfort in the knowledge that I have the power to transcend brokenness. That IS beautiful!

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  1. I am still amazed every time I take my hearing aids out at how much hearing I have lost but it is not so much that I cannot function without the aids. At the same time I had a different phenomenon that once I got my hearing aids I suddenly heard things I had never heard before and the world was so loud and obnoxious. Now I have become used to the new sounds but I do feel that brokenness when I realize I am not wearing my hearing aids because I cannot hear things. I had my diagnoses of moderate loss 5 years before I got hearing aids and my hearing loss is more pronounced to me now simply because now I do know what I have been missing and i realize i must have been missing most of it for a very long time.

    • Hi DyAnne, I think as with many things in life, there is both good and bad. Hearing aids turn up the volume and enhance those abrasive sounds. That’s one reason I’ve never been able to wear hearing aids, though not for the lack of wanting to find benefit with them, or trying them. I have hyperacusis which complicates things for me. I am a candidate for CI, but am not sure at this point that is the direction I want to go.

      My broken moments are fewer and farther between, but I’d be kidding myself if I said they were over. We will always be vulnerable to taking our loss to heart. However, if we spend too much time focusing on the sad things and what we are missing, then we are missing living in the moment.

      In my opinion, the goal is finding a way around the obstacle of hearing loss. That’s not an easy thing to do, and it’s not the same for everyone, but it is doable. Hang in there, DyAnne!

  2. This makes me sad. I’m remembering plays where I couldn’t hear my kids lines and concerts when their instruments sounded like nothing but shrill squeaks, another time my husband giving me a music box for Christmas with a song that was supposed to be meaningful – and me asking what the song was. – the confused look on his face.

    But its ok. Not long ago I was on a 6 hour flight with a screeching toddler. I flew in blissful silence after slipping the headpiece off my head. No one gets through life without having to deal with a few disappointments. Most of us have to deal with some big ones. People can get broken in different ways. Overall I feel fortunate that my childhood prepared me for problem solving and that because that I have made good choices as an adult.

    • Hi Kim, it is sad to feel broken and remember those times when the brokenness is overwhelming, but I always learned so much when I was down in that dark place. I agree, there are many ways in which people are broken and you have to rise above it and shift your focus. Like you, I feel fortunate. :o)

  3. Wow, this says exactly what I have felt on so many occassions. You did a wonderful job writing this -thank you so much for putting into writing what I have felt for so many years.
    Mary Ann & Hearing Dog Dora.

  4. Clearly expressed much of what I feel. I was amazed the first time I used my hearing aid….I did not realize the extent of my “loss”. At first I was saddened to know what I was missing and then, after a while, I realized the “noise” of the world was not always pleasant. I find great peace in my quiet world. I feel I have a choice now…to an extent….and I take comfort in that. Thank you for sharing,.

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