by Michele Linder
Do you ever wonder what the benefit of joining a hearing loss group is? For me, the most amazing thing has been connecting with others just like me. This is a common theme of newcomers to SayWhatClub… they’ve gone through most of their life never knowing another person with hearing loss. They’ve never experienced the understanding of another who knows what it’s like to be them. This one, simple thing is what has most impacted my life after joining this group.
Several months ago, I read Cheryl Strayed’s “Tiny Beautiful Things”, a compilation of Cheryl’s “Dear Sugar, the Rumpus Advice Column”, and I found much of the advice Sugar gave to the people who wrote to her could be applied to anything in life that is hard.
In COLUMN #44: HOW YOU GET UNSTUCK, the letter writer, “Stuck”, is a woman who miscarried at 6 months and was devastated by her loss… she had many well meaning people in her life who told her she should “be over her loss by now”, and some minimized her struggle in an attempt to push her out of her grief.
Here, in part, is what Dear Sugar told “Stuck”, with some of the specifics stricken through and substituted with words that apply to hearing loss:
“Many of those people love you and are worthy of your love, but they are not the people who will be helpful to you when it comes to healing the pain of
your daughter’s death losing your hearing.
They live on Planet Earth. You live on Planet
My Baby Died My Hearing Died.
It seems to me that you feel like you’re all alone there. You aren’t. There are
women people with hearing loss reading this right now who have tears in their eyes. You need to find those women people, darling. They’re your tribe.
I know because I’ve lived on a few planets that aren’t Planet Earth myself.
The healing power of even the most microscopic exchange with someone who knows in a flash precisely what you’re talking about because
she they experienced that thing too cannot be over-estimated. Call Contact your local hospitals and birth Deaf Hard of Hearing Service centers and inquire about support groups for people who’ve lost babies at or before or shortly after birth their hearing. Find online communities where you can have conversations with people during which you don’t have to pretend a thing.”
The SayWhatClub has become my tribe, and five years later I’m still here. Why? Because hearing loss is an ongoing challenge for which I will always need support from someone else who knows in a flash precisely what I’m talking about and going through. Plus, I get so much satisfaction from paying it forward. Though, if I’m honest, I admit to sometimes getting tired of talking about hearing loss. I get a bit worn out by sharing my story over and over, and there are times when I wonder if anything I’m contributing is making any difference to anyone who is reading?
But then one day someone relatively new to the forum emails you to tell you that the way in which you replied to their query made them move further toward finding out what works for them in their hearing loss journey, and that “…you are a clear spot in the forest…” You feel a renewed sense of purpose and find the energy to type the words one more time.
That happened just a few months ago when a new subscriber wrote to my home list to thank everyone for the warm welcome and to express how glad they were to have joined SayWhatClub… happy to be learning things to help them deal with their own hearing loss.
“I love that I’m already learning! …It’s nice to know there are others who understand. I don’t know any people in real life that have hearing trouble.
I am not yet good about starting out by telling people I have trouble hearing them. It’s not that I’m ashamed of it, but I’m just painfully shy in general. I guess I’ll just have to get over that if I want to communicate. At a restaurant this weekend, I ordered a grilled sourdough sandwich. The server said something, I asked her to repeat, I heard “sourdough…white or wheat?” and thought “Neat, whole wheat sourdough.” When I took a bite, I told my husband I was fairly certain that it was plain toast. He said, “Didn’t you hear her say they were all out of sourdough?” I don’t want to go through life getting plain toast.”
Thank you, Tracy, for that jewel!
If you don’t want to go through life getting plain toast, SayWhatClub might just be the tribe for you.