The last thing I wish to do is attempt to spin my story into one that’s misleading. It has its challenges and it has its triumphs. Understandably, life changes trigger their coinciding emotions. I went through (and will continue to experience) many.
To pick up where I left off, a fury of feelings thrashed through me when I woke up to silence on that fateful morning. It was the day before Christmas, which added its own layer of sentiment. Confusion, sadness, fear, uncertainty… they all whipped around in a whirlwind. I invest great effort in placing personal focus on faith, resilience, openness, and sincerity, but I’m also conscious of humanity’s relationship with flaws. My mind became the site of an internal tussle – positive reminders dueling against despair. I don’t believe this is foreign to anyone who experiences loss, though the levels can surely vary. I didn’t want to succumb to negative thoughts, but what would the human mind be without them?
The first few days of this new hearing loss, Christmas included, passed by slowly. I skipped the annual big holiday brunch and kept to immediate family… and alone. There was a great percentage of solitary time with small, sporadic inflections of outside stimulus – a text here, a person there, etc.
I tried to fill in some blanks. Like a good ol’ modern day citizen, I googled symptoms and fell into the abyss of potential prognosis. I attempted to treat my issues as the familiar congestion that had affected my hearing to lesser levels in the past. Humidifier, fluids, warm tea, steam, decongestants, vitamins, ear drops, essential oils… yada yada. I can’t say that I did much else physically. My body had slowed down while my mind sped up.
By nature, I’m an over-thinker and it doesn’t take much to send my mind spiraling, yet this was a magnitude unrivaled. The questions crept in quickly: “Why me? Why now? What will happen? Is this permanent? How will this affect my life? Will I ever be able to hear again? What about my work? What about… everything?” It was all so sudden and enough to knock the most steadfast soul off-course. (Was that the point?)
And it’d be a bold-faced lie if I said I didn’t cry.
I couldn’t stop myself from asking the universe about its choice. Tears flowed as I battled with how I could continue with my ambitions. My concerns most often fell upon the additional obstacles that I may now face in living out my life’s purpose. Although apprehensive about my health, my focus essentially morphed into: “How will I continue to help others?”
The empowerment of others, no matter how directly or indirectly, has grown to be a primary objective of mine. My service with youth, my commitment as a creative, the standards that I maintain with those I interact with… it’s all driven by my love for genuine and unfettered life. That’s my grind.
I’d already dedicated so much to building a foundation for continued work with this mission and all of a sudden I was being interrupted by a huge transformation.
I don’t mind surprises every now and again, but I wasn’t so happy about this one. I was pissed. I was angry that after working so hard, there was now something viciously uprooting my plans. As much as I fought the thought, I questioned what I “deserved.” The idea of not being able to return to my work or lifestyle was unbelievably painful.
I type this in retrospect and think on how upset I felt. I didn’t immediately share the news with family and friends, because I was struggling to swallow it myself. Although I appreciate some alone time, it’s unlike me to shut down and shut out for more than a tiny while. Nevertheless, this became a fraction of time where nothing else could fit. My usual interactions were pushed out as my world instead overflowed with this new situation, emotions, and the queries that it brought with it.
“Couldn’t it just be something else?” There was a part of me that also questioned the specificity of this new “assignment.” It’s not something physically debilitating, it’s not something temporary (so I couldn’t just say ‘Ok, this is a little reminder. Let me readjust and then carry on as an improved person’), and it’s not something that presents or explains easily to others. In essence, I didn’t feel like it was an excuse. I would now be forced to re-envision my journey, but it was not enough to halt it completely. I was met with this huge obstacle… but I was not off the hook…