I was recently in a social situation where the people around me were unaware of my hearing loss. It wasn’t a group of people I knew well. And, to be quite honest, who walks into a room of unsuspecting people and announces they have hearing loss as a warning? As I get older and the hearing loss gets worse, even with a hearing aid that I am SOOOOOO SOOOOO thankful for, there are still some difficult things to deal with relationally. This particular night, I was actually TRYING to relate to the people around me. I am generally an inquisitive person, and have found that has helped in getting to know people. It’s not a secret that I live in the middle of nowhere, and I have six children; therefore, I am not in social settings other than a Sunday morning church service all that often. So, in a sincere effort, I ask a question as we were sitting there. And, IMMEDIATELY heads turn to look at me, obviously in response to my question. My mind begins this instant conversation with itself. “Was that a bad question? Did I just offend them? What did I do that was unacceptable?” And as soon as these thoughts are racing around in my head, the others continue to converse as I sit quietly, question unanswered, wondering what just happened. I observe and listen intently. What I discovered was that I had interrupted one of them without knowing it. I was unable to hear the person that had started speaking before me. They were on my most deaf side, head turned, and I could not see their lips moving. So when I started speaking, of course they probably assumed I was being pretty rude. When in fact, that wasn’t my intent at all.
I’ve reflected on it since, wondering how I can work with my hearing loss in social settings. From my experience with hearing loss, it makes it very difficult to be comfortable socially. There is a level of anxiety that I will hear the wrong word or like this specific evening, interrupt unknowingly. Someone who understands hearing loss recently told me society socially concludes that people with hearing loss display signs of dementia. It is a bit unfair in my mind, but I get it. If someone never heard what was said, how can they remember it later? So it comes across as possible dimentia or something like it . Most people that have hearing loss are older which makes the idea even more plausible.
So I will share with you what I have learned in relation to my own hearing loss:
1. Have grace for myself and others. There will be misunderstandings and awkward moments to be sure with hearing loss.
2. Less is more in communicating in larger social settings.
3. A smile can communicate more than words quite often.
4. Having a family who is sensitive and understanding to my hearing loss is one of God’s greatest gifts to me.
5. Technology, Bluetooth speakers, hearing aids and the like make life with hearing loss so much better, and for that I am very thankful.
6. Find humor in the blunders.
As I age, I know this problem will persist, short of a miracle. I will need the grace of others as well as giving grace in return. My heart is to love and bless others to the best of my ability for God’s glory.
May God be glorified in all the not so average mamas/ladies today! 😀