Hearing loss and social situations: when it feels tiresome to explain a disability

Yesterday was not a good hearing day.

I’m volunteering on my daughter’s baseball team by doing the scheduling and some of the admin. I don’t often get a chance to go and actually see the team play since I’m double booked with my son’s team, but yesterday I was there.

Only a few parents were hanging around. They saw me arrive, we said hello, and the game was underway.

I parked my butt on the little hill and watched.

Soon, a mom came over and sat beside me. She is a lovely lady, a teacher, but she has a very quiet voice. And, she picked my right side to sit beside.

My right side is deaf. I can’t hear anything from that side of my head. (Obviously she didn’t know this.)

My left side, with the hearing aid in, is functional.

I was immediately anxious. But I did nothing.

This ‘did nothing’ reminds me of my high school days of doing nothing about circumstances beyond my control. Back then, I was slightly overweight, had glasses, and very bulky hearing aids, those old-fashioned ones that go behind the ears. I had long, big hair like we all did in the 80s, but it was still obvious that I had this disability.

I was awkward, uncomfortable, and weird.

If I didn’t hear something back then, I would pretend I heard, or ignore them and run away, or choose any number of other options that teenagers with low self-esteem exercise in situations like this.

Today I’m an adult and a mom of tween and teen aged kids. There are times when the ‘I don’t give a shit’ gauge is in full force and I simply say something like this:

“Sorry, I don’t have any hearing in my right ear, would you mind sitting on my left?”

I did not do this yesterday.

Not only was I in a precarious mood to begin with, I was also feeling a little bit anti-social. Explaining what would help me with conversation wasn’t something I felt like doing, yet at the same time, it was nice to talk with the other mom.

I had this conflicted feeling of wanting to be social and not having the oompf to be social.

Does this make sense?

At the end of the game when the girls started packing up their stuff, the head coach came over to chat with me. Her daughter was chatting with mine, so we had a few minutes before leaving. Suddenly a group of coaches and parents were standing around me and the chatting was…fine. At times hard to hear, but nothing important was being said, it was just idle chat.

But I felt stressed. Not only because quite a few people were now talking, but because at least half were either on my right (deaf) side or behind me.

I have to say I was glad to leave and go home to be by myself. Decompression for me must be done in solitude and silence. Some days I need a lot more of that than other days.

Today, I have 3/4 of the family in the house. This does not please me, but at the same time I hope that one of them will work in his home office downstairs and the other…stays quiet. Later, a big family event with noise and chatter will wear me down, but if I get enough quiet during the day today I may actually begin to look forward to it.

 

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3 thoughts on “Hearing loss and social situations: when it feels tiresome to explain a disability

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