I've never been very good at being quiet. In fact, because I've never really been able to hear myself, my tendency is to be rather loud. Just ask my family: at home when getting out of bed at night and in the mornings, I stomp around, bang the doors, and slam the lid on the toilet, to the extent that my little sister can't stop giving me grief for disturbing her sleep. My loudness is a constant joke in our house. Before the CI, my bantering strategy was to jeer that I wasn't really that noisy, that I was trying to be quiet, that hearing people were too sensitive and should just suck it up, etc. In my own mind, I honestly did think I wasn't loud.
But that, well, was because... I couldn't hear it. These days, as I've written about, background noise persists in being a real problem for me, so that if a piece of paper so much as rustles in an otherwise quiet room I sometimes want to jump up and scream. Never mind doors closing and people stomping around in the hallways outside. Shudder. I haven't learned to tune - it - out. These days, also, my morning routine is different, characterized by an almost painfully charged awareness of sound. Now, I'm a morning person, something that's a bit odd for a college student, and if I sleep past 7am I feel as if an essential part of my day has been wasted. So, because I'm usually up before my roommate, I've gotten practice in sneaking around in the mornings. But quietly this time. Or at least, trying to be.
Now, being quiet (for a deaf person) is a funnier thing than you might think. And I've noticed a general pattern that has been surprising. Obviously, when I wake up I'm enveloped only in silence. I shower and dress hearing nothing but the rhythm of my own thoughts. At these times, it's easy to become lost in my own mind, and admittedly in old habits, so that sound (and my own noisiness) seems less important. Pooh, I'm not being that loud, am I? But the moment the CI goes on - wow. Roar. My perspective undergoes a 180-degree shift. I've been absorbed in my illusions of a still, quiet morning, but it turns out that even this dark room is pulsing with so much sound. Every movement I make seems amplified, and when I freeze I find that I am still making noise, just by breathing. My attempts at being quiet seem nearly futile, because everything makes noise. Nowhere, I find, can I approach the total silence that, without the CI, I know so well. There's no escaping it: sound exists, and goes on existing whether I am aware of it or not. This may seem simple, but it's a profound realization that keeps hitting me over the head, day after day. The only thing I can say: I really would make a very poor burglar.
Funny how we don't think about things when they're not directly influencing us. For me, without the CI it's perfectly easy to go about as if sound ceases to exist for everybody else, and not just me. Only when I receive that audible check, that reminder of the world outside my own mind, can I stop and think, oh yeah. Right. That hearing perspective still feels so quirky and unnatural.
Now if only volume control were available for everybody else - for me it's a lifesaver!