Thursday, January 26, 2012

It Is What It Is

It's funny, right after posting about that forwarded petition on audism (which left me brooding over the whole idea of Deaf isolation/hearing-world immersion), I got myself dressed up and headed over to a networking event on campus. It was hosted by a women's group that I'm involved with, and although I'm never quite excited to go to those things, I figured I'd resort to the old standby: suck it up, go and be seen, and try to handle it all as graciously as possible. But when I got there I quickly found that it wasn't going to be my kind of night. The room was loud and crowded, full of strangers talking in groups, many of them too difficult to lipread even if I could focus amidst the noise. The CI was more of a distraction than a help. On top of that, I was informed that there would be an assortment of activities and guest speakers for a fair deal of the time - not something I was prepared to handle at that time of night without an interpreter. A bit deflated but not exactly surprised, I left early. My night did go on to better and more useful things, but the thought racing through my mind as I walked back to my room was, No wonder it's so easy to retreat into Deaf culture.

Not that that's an option for me. It isn't, nor would I want it to be. Still, I do have my moments when it seems that the hearing world isn't at all made for me - a sentiment that I know resonates with other deaf and hard-of-hearing people. As I've gotten older, I've gotten better at maneuvering through these disconnected moments and figuring out how to avoid them. A lot of that involves advance planning (for interpreters and other accommodations), some self-advocacy, and sheer self-knowledge. The unexpected does come up, regardless, the moments in which I find myself stuck and really not able to communicate as I'd like to. And, as uncomfortable as the entire rhetoric of Deaf culture can make me, I'll be honest in admitting that during those moments it can be easy to think of groups of D/deaf people with more fondness than groups of hard-to-understand hearing people, at least in the abstract. It's easy to want to be isolationist. It's easy to be hurt and angry simultaneously at everyone and at no one in particular. It's easy to want to reject the system that seems not to care about your needs, much less provide for them. It's easy to want to band together with someone - anyone - in defiance of the linguistic and communicative barrier that accompanies hearing loss.

All of this makes sense to me in one tumultuous, emotionally chaotic moment. And then I take a deep breath, count my blessings (of which there are many!), and engage in some form of the serenity prayer. This does not define me. There are ways around the barrier, just as there have been scores of times before. And, sometimes, it just is what it is.

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