Spinning-EarIt’s a beautiful thing to realize that my biggest self-inflicted deficit has become the means for higher awareness and the next chapter of my life. Heck, even if I was the last one to realize it.

The discomfort of change has been brewing inside of me for some time now. A knowing-ness has finally brought me here. I have learned, sometimes the things that we feel are ruling our limitations, are simply the words and feelings that we have solidified as our truth only to hold us back for the amount of time we have decided to hide. This is the ego at its best. I can see the difference now.

In 2015 I obtained a new set of high-powered digital hearing aids. I am completely 100% co-dependent on them to hear all and any of the external sounds in the world. With out them, I hear nothing. That’s right, with out them, no sound. I’m deaf. I am very lucky to be able to for the most part, cope with my severe hearing loss with hearing aids. Even though I only hear about 50% of things with them. I am grateful for that! I have been hard of hearing and deaf for my entire life, and I have consciously faked being both for most of my life as well. Of course my close friends and family know this all too well, but when I would meet someone new, I almost never mentioned anything about this. But they eventually find out. Why did I do this? Why would I avoid what was in fact my reality for so long? The short most objective answer is actually quite simple, and it amazes me as to how long we can hold onto feelings and philosophies that no longer serve us. In this case, they never did in the first place. By admitting that I was hard of hearing and deaf to people, I thought that people would judge me. Keep in mind that “I” was the one who thought this. I take responsibility for making the wrong choice. This thought created a negative feeling inside, and that feeling translated into the fear of not being good enough. Once this practice became a habit I allowed for future insecurities to expand on the “how” this fear could be applied into any given potential situation. After 30 years of practice, I am happy to say that I have had enough of that game, and I take full responsibility for any limitations that I have experienced to this point. I own them all, and once again, it is me and only me that created them all. I have learned that blame gets us nowhere, it only keeps us in the same place, and we get to feel and experience more of that “being in the same place.” We can always choose how to think, feel and react. I am grateful for this awareness. Easier said than done, yes, this does take practice.

My hearing aids are quite amazing. When I got them, I could consciously feel my brain taking new form since I have been wearing them. That might sound strange but trust me on this. My body and my whole physiology is reacted to those new sounds that I never knew existed.  Washing machines make sounds when their cycle is done?! Rain actually hits the concrete and makes noise?? Hehe, well it kind of does now. I had been wearing 2 sets of really outdated analog hearing aids from over 15 years ago. They had lost their real power and ability to help me over 7-8 years ago, yet I did nothing about it. I used the excuse of claiming that new hearing aids were far too expensive and that I was happy with what I had. What that really meant was, I’m still afraid to admit to the fact that I must OWN my disability, so by doing nothing about it, I could keep on blaming my hearing loss from moving forward in life. Admitting to this has changed a lot. I feel a bit silly, but also incredibly human. I have learned that we need to be compassionate towards ourselves when we are in the process of healing something inside. What does one get out of bashing them-selves for not fixing or addressing something sooner? Nothing. I’m not doing that. What I do know is, it is about being more than we once were, especially when we have a new awareness. I still love the “old me” who had the “issue.” I have forgiven him and send him a lot of love and energy, and this feels good.

I am overcoming a lot of my fears by directly putting myself in positions to have to talk about how hearing loss has affected my life. As a college professor I have to be in front of people each and everyday. I have to be more direct with my students and colleagues by telling them how I feel and what I need from them. By being honest about what I am missing, the feelings of compassion and empathy become mutual. This helps both parties make an emotional connection that I feel is necessary in education. (I believe this will play a huge role in the future of education.) Sometimes I have to ask people to repeat themselves, or to speak slower, or louder. Sometimes I answer the wrong question and everyone laughs or looks at me with a priceless look of confusion, these two things always make me laugh, and it almost always creates a connection. Almost as if, that is where I begin to know someone, because they would now know me as I am.

It is natural to seek deeper meaning out of yourself and the world around you. This is how we grow, through self-discovery as we interpret ourselves in relationship to our time here on this planet, but it can slip away all too fast if we are hiding from ourselves.

As an artist, I have had an epiphany about my work through this healing process. (and continue to do so) Maybe you are already familiar with my work? I have been a high volume output kind of artist for my whole life. Making many things at once in an immediate sort of way. By connecting my physical limitation to the question, “why do I make so much work?” Why have I put the emphasis on physical output and high volumes of works produced? Well, it’s about filling the fear and deficit of how much I have been missing in this world. I was missing a lot from early childhood, and as time went on, the more I was not hearing the more art I would make. Production = missing. The funny part is, the art that I make is not dark. It does not exactly communicate unhappiness, but I do see a common thread of a lack of meaning in some of these bodies of work. So, will I go off and make only hearing loss and deafness based works of art now, most likely not I thought at the time when I wrote this (boy was I wrong fast forward May 2018) but I will work on understanding what works come out of that context of things, and what works do not. the best is really yet to come. This too I have a knowingness about.

Hearing loss and being deaf has made me who I am. The extremely positive aspects of this experience so far has helped me better understand and assert several things about who I am. I live in two worlds, the world of the synthetic sound via hearing aid technology, and the soundless. Everyday I experience both worlds but they are forever intertwined. For the many many years I struggled and strained trying to hear and follow along as everyone seemed to excel past me on the outside, I was doing a lot of work on the inside. I had to depend on myself to learn so many things. I created these systems of learning and applied them. I developed a whole other form of communicating that was uniquely my own. I love this understanding as both an idea and an experience. I had to learn how to “hear” my inner voice by understanding my mental, emotional and physical feelings. I have learned an incredible amount about my own physiology, and how the mind and body communicates simultaneously. At the end of the day when the hearing aids come out, and believe me, I cant wait to take them out after 12-15 hours of wearing them, the absence of sound induces the internal world. Instantly, in this world, where feelings and sensations tell the stories about the impulses and dialogs of the experiences processed through out the day. The ego seems to be a lot less active, and clarity of thought comes through. I have developed all of my confidence, compassion, empathy, creativity and insight in the world of the still and silent. By the time I hit 30 years of age and entered the college art teaching world I had to confidently merge the two worlds together. I am still working on this! I “feel” almost everything before I actually think a thought. Most of the time I get a “feel” for something or someone before I walk into a room. Sometimes I have a knowingness about how I can help another human being hours before I meet them. This is on an energy level. It is indeed “inner” and it was developed through the overcompensation process.  I am so grateful for this. It is my intention to better define this into a usable practice so that anyone can develop and apply it.

What I once viewed as an extreme liability, is really nothing more than my greatest asset. I believe that I can better serve my fellow human beings through this experience. That is what I am doing.

There is still a lot to learn and I am happy to be fully participating now. Especially learning ASL and sign language.

All I can say is thank you.

Can you relate? What part of “you” is stopping you?