But it’s MY problem!

Although Chloe’s main “job” is to hear for me and to assist me when my balance is “off” any particular day, she also has come to believe that she is the SQUIRREL POLICE. Now that the weather has finally started to act like it’s Winter, her beloved backdoor where she watches the squirrels is now closed. It hasn’t stopped her from her diligent stance of protection when she isn’t alerting for me. Because my door was getting scratched up, I became an “enabler”. I provided a chair for her to sit on so that she could continue her look-out duties. (It doesn’t hurt that the paint on my door is now safe!) I’ve never told her that “protecting Denise from the squirrels” was her problem, but Chloe has made it her problem.

Chloe is a dog. (I just wanted to clear that up for anyone in doubt!) She acts like a dog, and has instincts like a dog. She has taken it upon herself to be the squirrel police for our family. She has made it her problem. I can assure her I’ve got it “handled”, and it doesn’t matter. The squirrels are her problem.

The squirrels are going to act like squirrels. They are hungry and many are pregnant. As long as someone keeps putting out corn for them, they will continue to come… in spite of the red furry sentinel they see on the other side of the glass! Chloe will continue to worry that the squirrels are on our deck, even if I continue to reassure her that this isn’t part of her job. Since she isn’t losing sleep over it, and since she eats and acts normally, I let her act like a dog in this regard.

I know people with hearing loss who take it on themselves to feel responsible for the way other people act regarding their hearing loss. They can attend workshops, read “self-help” books, and attend support groups and chapter meetings to learn that they are only responsible for the way that they respond to things. Don’t get me wrong… I believe that it’s important that we “gently educate” others about hearing loss. This will help the next person who doesn’t hear well that our “chosen student” comes into contact with in the future. However, many people with hearing loss make it their problem when someone continues to react in a negative way.

Our first HLAA chapter meeting after the holidays, had me overhearing some stories from members about how hard it was to interact with family members who have never truly accepted the fact that they have a hearing loss. They continue to communicate poorly in spite of the pleas and encouragement from their family member with hearing loss. They talk with their mouths full, or their hands in front of their mouth. They turn away to look at something else while talking, instead of making eye contact with the individual with hearing loss. Perhaps their house reverberated with the sound of Christmas music and the person chose to have a conversation next to the stereo!

Sometimes you have to come to the realization that some people do not fully understand in spite of your coaching. Worse? Maybe they don’t care. However, this doesn’t mean that it is your problem. It’s their problem. Don’t you have enough problems of your own? Why take on the problems of someone else?

It’s OK to even get a little miffed at this person. You may even “wish” hearing loss on them for just one day! But at the end of YOUR day, leave the problem where it belongs! With them! You can’t control them, or force them to “get it” in communicating with someone with a hearing loss. Don’t make their problem, your problem.

Chloe adopted a problem that wasn’t assigned to her. But she is acting on instinct, and her new problem doesn’t cause her any harm. When we take on the problem of someone’s poor attitude about our hearing loss, we don’t handle it well at all! It wasn’t meant to be ours! Our blood pressure goes up, we harbor “ill will”, and we think negative thoughts. We can’t curl up in our doggie bed at night and go right to sleep.

Do your best, and let other’s deal with their own problems!

Denise Portis
©2008 Hearing Loss Diary


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