By: Sara Lundquist
Each summer we have family reunion for my paternal grandfathers side of the family. We had not attended for over a decade until the past 2 years. The reunion is held at a casino. A casino to me is an over stimulus of noise, bright lights, and a major headache. We concentrate so hard to hear and understand that we or myself don’t need these extra distractions.
Last year was my first year there with children. It had been a very long time since I attended. There were a few people around my age who I was talking to. I had never met these people. I did a horrible job of self advocating. I told no one of my hearing loss. My immediate family of course knew but not anyone else. I was miserable and I really think I kinda made a fool of myself. A few people talked to me with their back turned. I had no idea what they had said, I answered with inappropriate responses. By the look on their faces I made no sense at all. We ended the weekend and I felt like a failure and a fraud. Why couldn’t I be true to myself? This past year has been one of discovery and meeting others with hearing loss and learning the importance of speaking up for yourself. I ended up contacting a few people from the reunion to tell them of my hearing loss.
The reunion was held again a month ago. I was looking forward to the time away but kinda dreading the interaction. I knew I could do better. I was going to be true to me. We arrived mid-day took the kids right to the pool. Then one relative I had written was in the pool. I saw her get up and walk up to me and face me as she talked. It was amazing. Why didn’t I say something last year. She asked if that is what I needed. The whole reunion was like this. I spoke up and I had a great time. I even tripled my money at the casino.
So why do we do the fake nods, answer with generic answers and try to hide. I think we don’t want to seem different. We don’t want to put people out. In all reality this is crazy everyone want to communicate. They want to be heard and understood. I took that little leap out of my comfort zone. I let people know what I needed and I had a wonderful family reunion. I have learned that this baby steps, and I am getting there. When I look at last year to this year it is completely night and day.