Sometimes? Sometimes it hurts…

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I like to think that I approach life with a really wonderful attitude. One of the biggest reasons that I am able to do so, is that I am really so incredibly blessed! I have the absolute greatest family, a wonderful husband, an assistance dog who loves me in the way God created dogs to love people (unconditionally), a super church, etc. Even my disability is one in which I can “handle” most days, and have been blessed by the friendships of others who really have a bigger burden to bear in their own disabilities.

Some people hate the word “disability”, as it lends one towards thinking they are NOT able – hence “dis” abled. I do like to focus on what I can do, instead of those things I cannot. However, I try very hard to balance that with reality. There ARE things I cannot do as a result of my disability. I think when one says that certain physical challenges (or emotional or mental) do not affect our everyday lives, one is really embracing a state of denial. I think we have to be honest with ourselves. It is only in this way we can then go out and be honest with others. I sit in my house alone as I write this, as my family has gone to participate in RESPITE… a ministry of our church. It is a ministry I cannot participate in, as I cannot allow my own deafness and balance problems place a child with disabilities in danger. I don’t care if I tumble down the stairs, or fail to hear something that ends up hurting me. I do care should I place another in danger. I accept that my disability will not allow me to do some things… things like RESPITE.

“Honestly”? (Grin), I think Christians make a mistake when they choose to go around acting as if life is always good all the time. GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME, but sometimes? Life isn’t! Sometimes? Sometimes it hurts…

Oswald Chambers wrote in My Utmost for His Highest, “A river is victoriously persistent, it overcomes all barriers. For awhile it goes steadily on its course, then it comes to an obstacle. For awhile it is balked, but it soon makes a pathway round the obstacle. You can see God using some lives, but into your life an obstacle has come and you do not seem to be of any use. Keep paying attention to the Source, and God will either take you round (it) or remove it. Never get your eyes on the obstacle or on the difficulty.”

I really do try to live that way. I consider myself a persistent little brat! I’ve had a few barriers disguised as boulders thrown into the course of my river! Sometimes, that boulder has acted like a dam. The water rising around me made me feel defeated and useless. There were times I wanted to stay in that stagnate pool so that I didn’t have to continue my journey down the riverbed. But after lessons learned, and a new desire to persevere, the “water” broke over the top of that barrier. And golly! The waterfall created after a necessary period of “standing water” was magnificent! Even in my deafness I could hear the roar of newfound power released, as I heard it from my heart! I know that God must have looked down and saw the water finally cascade over that barrier and thought, “Ah! Now that is why I created her! Look at her go now!”

My deafness has brought me a unique and valuable group of peers, many of whom have become very close friends. My deafness has definitely coerced me closer to my God; sometimes with a gentle push and other times with a giant shove. My deafness has helped me to really “listen” with other senses, as I’ve learned to see emotions play across people’s faces more clearly. People do not realize that their emotions can many times echo off of them like waves. These emotions of tension, happiness, sadness or anger, can almost knock a person over if they are really listening with something other than ears.

It reminds me of when I stood in the Atlantic ocean about 15 years ago. My family I were staying in a condo with my father-in-law on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I stood in about 18 inches of salt water. Tears of shock poured down my face as I had been “sucker punched” with the knowledge that I could not hear the ocean. I could feel it, but I could not hear it. I grew up in Colorado – a completely landlocked state for those of you with geographical “issues”. (smile) So my very first time to stand in the ocean, trying to hear what I no longer had the hearing to do, wounded me deeply. (Now that I have a cochlear implant I have to get my ears to the ocean… well, the rest of me too! I’m fairly certain Maryland borders the ocean!) That week I did, however, learn how the ocean feels. Even in 18 inches of water, the current could be felt. My toddlers played around me in the surf and would squeal and run when they heard a big wave come crashing towards the shore. I soon learned that what I couldn’t hear, I could feel… and rarely was caught unaware by an incoming whitecap!

I think people with hearing loss can learn to hear better than those with normal hearing… if only we determine to do so.

But you know? Just when I think I’ve got a “handle” on my hearing loss and balance issues, something happens to remind me that hearing loss can still hurt. Sometimes? Sometimes it hurts…

I slammed the door of our van on my son’s hand yesterday. It was only by seeing my daughter’s horrified expression as she faced me and saw the commotion outside my door that I even knew it had happened. My first response was, “Why didn’t you holler?” Both assured me that everyone within a square mile DID hear him holler. Being able to hear, wouldn’t have meant his hand would not have been “in the wrong place at the wrong time”, but I certainly would have opened my door quicker had I heard him!

I’ve also learned that even though I tend to “read someone’s emotions well”, if that person decides to deliberately hide their feelings then I am truly “deaf”. As a mother, I find myself tagging along behind a child who is hurting, trying desperately to sense what is wrong. I feel like Sherlock Holmes sometimes, trying to deduce what might be the problem from analyzing evidence that is clear… about a problem that is NOT. If my children need their “space” and choose to not discuss certain things, it is their choice. I can sense a problem, but not be able to identify it. It can be rather annoying for a mother to shadow your every step and try to find out what is wrong! My children are growing up, and needing me less. My brain knows that, but my heart refuses to let go just yet.

I worry about how I’ll know if something is wrong, when they eventually move out… get married… and have families of their own. If I’m not within arms reach, how can I feel that something is wrong… that something is hurting them? I know and trust that God will always be that “within arm’s reach” source of comfort. Knowing it, trusting it, and being able to truly come to terms with it is something else though!

I suppose that is why my “river” will always have barriers to work around. Sometimes those barriers are big things; things that cause my river to surge to a halt. Other times, those barriers are a series of small things. Ultimately, I must press on. My river has a course to run.

Phil. 3: 13(b)-14 “but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. “

Denise Portis
©2008 Hearing Loss Diary

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2 thoughts on “Sometimes? Sometimes it hurts…

  1. I can relate to your article here! Yes, deafness hurts in subtle ways so many people can’t imagine.

    I don’t have a blog, but I did write an article called “Reflections on the Incomprehensibilities of Hearing Loss” for a local Hearing Loss Association chapter newsletter. (Please let me know if you would like to see it.) It covers four areas where hearing loss bothered me and it generated comments from chapter members.

    You write very well with thoughts that makes one think, especially sensing things about the ocean! It’s so true that we have to “troubleshoot” all the time in our everyday lives, reading people’s faces for hints of what they are thinking or feeling, and constantly figuring out what is happening out in the world — all with tiring and intense concentration that other people don’t need to do.

    This constant “troubleshooting” created a situation in computer programming where I want the code to be exactly right; it’s something I can control to make it error-free without bombing or putting out erroneous output. The hearing co-workers around me were more casual in their coding and couldn’t understand my negativeness towards unnecessarily having to fix problems due to sloppy coding by others. They’d say, “It’s just code.” Sure…but try that approach to the rest of life, and maybe you just might understand…

  2. I, too, am so very blessed by all the loving supportive people around me including my loving husband (of almost 30 years!), my children, grandchildren, HLAA friends and my supportive co-workers many of whom are also hard of hearing.

    You are so right that sometimes it hurts! It breaks my heart to no longer be able to hear “sweet little nothings” from my husband, to not be able to share secrets with my precious granddaughter, etc. But like you, Denise, I just have to focus on the things I can change and the people that I can help through my passion – helping others with hearing loss!

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