Friday afternoon a friend of mine stopped by my massage studio and we sat outside on the patio,drinking beer and catching up. He had been doing yard work all day and I had just finished several massage sessions. It was a rare chance just to sit down together for a little while.
We started talking about our days and I mentioned that I had done a Thai massage on the patio early Wednesday morning and that it had been so peaceful. He grinned and said,”It’s a little loud out here right now.”
I looked at him with enough surprise in my eyes that he pointed out that he could hear someone hammering 100 yards away, cars driving by and car doors shutting and people talking in the parking lot across the street.
100 yards! I couldn’t even imagine because,since I’m hard of hearing, I think-although I KNOW better- that only what I am seeing and feeling is making noise.
For me, sound is visual and tactical. I can feel the wind blowing so I realise that it’s making a rustling sound, and I can see the wind chimes moving,so I know they are making a sound…but I’m not sure how loud it is or if it’s as soothing as i assume it is.
I had no idea that my clients would be hearing a lawn mower yards away or the chatter of people walking up the sidewalks during the Thai massage sessions that I do outside on the covered patio deck at Rockwall Body and Soul Massage.
This space is surrounded by trees and a high privacy fence so I’ve always considered it a peaceful, sacred oasis..far removed from the sounds of everything but when Jim told me what he heard, I was, quite frankly, a little shocked and then, I was filled with gratitude..
You see, hardly anyone ever tells me what I’m missing and I’m so used to missing out that it’s an incredible act of kindness when I’m made aware of something that I didn’t know.
I told Jim that I didn’t realize how loud it was outside.
As we sat facing each other, only inches apart, I explained that, as far as I was concerned, he was the only person in the world at this time. My eyes were watching his lips so I could read his words. I paid close attention to his eyes and his body language and I listened with every ounce of my being, concentrating so hard to avoid missing anything important and to have to ask for it to be repeated.
He nodded his head in understanding and said, “It’s a blessing and a curse.”
A blessing and a curse.
That’s exactly what it feels like. A blessing that I’m unaware of noises that I don’t see. A curse because it could affect the way others feel about the sessions they receive.
A curse because I’m so used to being left out that I just accept it. When people are talking right in front of me but don’t bother to slow down just a little so I can understand, I just pretend it doesn’t sting and walk away.
A curse because I feel invisible- unnoticed,unnecessary, uninvited.
I’ve sat at tables,sharing meals and not sharing conversations. People glance up, catch my eye and pause, as if they just now realized I was there, and then give me the “Readers Digest” version which usually begins like this, “Oh,we were just talking about……”
But it’s a blessing,too, because I’ve learned to be alone. I’ve learned to find the beauty in solitude, to fill the voids in my heart with other things. it’s made me a very compassionate,empathic woman. I appreciate kindness so much+ the extraordinary gifts of patience and understanding. I marvel at the wonders of technology like the AVA -Audio Visual Accessibility-app I use every day and captions for lyrics through Sound Hound and MusicMatch which gives me the gift of understanding the songs I’m listening to.
It’s a blessing because I don’t take anything for granted. When someone takes the time to include me or tells me something that makes me feel connected, then I am overwhelmed with gratitude, especially when I haven’t asked.
.My Mema used to listen intentionally and purposefully wherever we were at and then, when we were alone, she would pat the seat beside her, beckon me over and give me a play-by-play of everything she had heard.
I would look so forward to these times because I knew she would tell the stories in such a way that we would both be roaring with laughter.or bought to tears, or shaking with indignation. She made me feel as if it was the greatest adventure to be able to share the stories with me. She had a knack of making everything come alive.
It was a blessing and a curse to hear the stories second-hand, filtered through her Southern sass and sensibilities.
It’s a blessing and a curse because I can’t choose what I hear but I can choose how I listen to others. I choose to sit closely, and to seek out places that make lip reading as easy as possible. I choose small.intimate gatherings over large,rambunctious events. I choose to be mindful and grateful, instead of bitter and spiteful. I choose to walk away and find my own peace rather than stay and feel alienated.
That’s why it was such a rare thing when my friend came by, sat outside and talked with me. He knows full well that it is a blessing and a curse to be friends with a deaf woman. It takes longer to visit and sometimes people get the wrong idea because I sit closely and lean forward to understand. I touch often, which is my way of feeling the vibrations. of making connection, of being centered with whoever I’m listening to.
It’s a blessing because he knows that I’m giving him my utmost attention,but it’s also a curse because I look so much deeper into the heart of a person and that can make some people feel a little vulnerable or uncomfortable.
It’s just the way things are with me and all I can hope is that I’m more of a blessing than a curse.
9 18 p.m. 6-6-18