The world is loud.
I never knew that before. I was born with a hearing impairment, not a really bad one, but just enough to make certain things annoying. Like when I had jury duty. Or talking to soft spoken people. Or eating with a friend in noisy restaurants. I probably could have gone my whole life without hearing aids, until I became a therapist. Then I realized it was just impractical to be with someone who just told me about something awful and emotional, sometimes their first time telling anybody, and have to say, “I’m sorry, could you repeat that?”
I intended to get hearing aids back in Arizona, but then I found out we would be moving, and decided to put it off until I got to Texas. Once here, I got tested by an audiologist, and got my first pair of hearing aids ever. I told her that I primarily wanted them for work, or in as needed situations. She laughed and said she was pretty sure that once I got used to them, I’d want to wear them all the time.
The world is a loud, loud place. I never realized it before because I’ve always been insulated by my own limited hearing. My first day, I wore the hearing aids for two hours, and then I had to take Excedrin from the pounding headache from being able to hear everything.
And they’re not even turned all the way up yet.
I’m so grateful for this wonderful technology, and I’m grateful that I had enough money in my HSA account to buy them. But to wear them full time? No.
You see, silence is one of my favorite things. I love to sit and read or write or surf the internet in silence. If I do put music on, it’s quiet. I love being outside, but I can hear the birds chirping or the wind rustling in the leaves of the trees. I can’t hear traffic. Or my neighbors.
I knew that for me, hearing aids would primarily be a tool, but I didn’t realize how they would make me understand that my limited hearing has never been a limitation for me at all; it’s been a blessing. I get to hear the world in a very different way than others do, and that’s not a bad thing. When I want to hear more, I put my hearing aids in, and suddenly, the world is louder. It’s easier for me to understand other people speaking and pull in background noise. And when I take them out, the world is quiet again.
I asked my husband if he minded if I didn’t wear them at home, and he shrugged and said that after 14 years, he’s used to speaking loudly so that I can hear him. ❤ I guess most of my friends are.
Back to my audiologist… it occurs to me again that it’s an extrovert’s world. She assumed that I would like hearing and like connecting with the world around me, when it’s the opposite. I don’t feel disconnected. I connect with the people I want to and leave the rest in the background. I don’t mind not knowing what’s going on behind me or around me. I don’t mind missing background noises or sounds. I like my life’s soundtrack to be quiet.
Where do you weigh in on silence vs noise?