"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive." Anaïs Nin

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

It's Not Anyone's Fault = It's A Side Effect

"I don't know what I don't hear," seems to be my phrase of the month so far and it's being said with a tone of frustration. My poor Fabulous Husband and I had our first ever major miss-communication. I was sure I heard something else, and what is worse, he didn't know that. In the end, after we discussed the issue we figured out what had happened. He told me he said such and such, and I explained what I heard, and then we figured out what I didn't hear, which was a crucial point. All I had left to say is "I don't know what I don't hear", or another way to put it, "How can I know what I don't hear"? It's confusing, but really it does make sense if it's ever happened to you.

I'm just thankful it wasn't serious, because it well could have been. However, the reality is, no one is at fault when this happens, and I'm incredibly blessed and fortunate to have Fabulous Husband who is patient, and so wise and gentle and loving and incredibly understanding.

I actually had a similar situation years ago when I was living in Georgia with my friend, Katherine. Her husband and mine were very good friends, and it was they who were the peacemakers. I took something I thought Katherine said, and I accused her of lying. Fortunately, I only accused her of this to my husband and to her, however, it could have gotten ugly and I could have ruined the poor woman's reputation beyond repair, and unjustly had our husbands not put together what had actually happened.

I went personally to Katherine and asked point blank "Why did you lie?" and that was not the way to approach her, or anyone, really. I was young. I was very young, and I was about to learn a very good lesson in communication and caring about others.

As it turned out, no one was at fault. It was a simple communication problem, my failing hearing and poor lip reading skills being the real culprit. Once we figured out the problem, she was very forgiving of my lack of tact, however, the friendship was never quite the same. We were still friends and our husbands got along great, but there was now a strain that had not been there before.

Fortunately, I'm older now by several decades, and I've learned never to accuse anyone of anything blatantly, because many times, it comes down to a matter of perspectives. From my perspective, it may be one way, and from another person's perspective it may be vastly different because we have different information, or not enough information, or we heard something wrong or didn't hear a piece of information at all or we just have an entirely different view or interpretation. Too often, we presume, assume and arrive to incorrect conclusions. It is not our job to accuse one another, nor is it right. We should be slow to take offense, patient and give one another the benefit of the doubt and talk it out.

Which brings me back to Fabulous Husband. He has those wonderful virtues, patience, kindness, gentleness, slow to take offense and he's wise, loving and understanding. He has a beautiful spirit. I'm so grateful he stuck out the conversation with me and we figured out exactly where we got our wires crossed.

I mishear things everyday, all day long, and I'm thankful that it's not been over serious issues. I'm also thankful I'm learning the lesson of not allowing such things to create unnecessary drama in my life or the life of others. There will be many more conversations in the future where I'll be saying, "I don't know what I don't hear", but at least we know if something gets misconstrued, it's a side effect of being deaf and we are learning better how to handle it.


  1. Great post! I totally get what you are saying. I experience this almost daily. It is hard to describe to those who rarely experience it.

  2. Anonymous, I read it your blog and still confusion and somewhat you are saying to reliable to lipread and I do not reliable lipread and hire ASL interpreter and you can asking for oral interpreter for hard of hearing. So you wont missed everything. Many time hearing people clueless about hard of hearing and deaf are same.. it is WRONG! I am not impressive with your friend is not their fault. I do not believe. i believe that you need to educating hearing people about deaf and hard of hearing are different culture. you might be misinterpreted to hearing people for not able to hear their conversation.
    Something that you failed to let them know you are reliable on oral interpreter .. Tell school at front desk to request oral interpreter for your children.. Dont expect hearing people are accurate information for you. you will missed 70% .. Only you will understand hearing people in 30%. I read your comment in Jamie Bereke .. I was shake head after your comment in Jamie's blog.

  3. Thank you, e. It is wonderful to find a forum that allows us to share our journeys and experiences together and to learn from one another. I thought with so many of us blogging here, there would be plenty of exchanges of how to adapt as we move into deafness, or to live with deafness, respectfully.

  4. By the way, Deaf Pixie, I always told people I didn't hear well. It is also difficult for me to explain the difference between being Hearing Impaired and Deaf, because many issues are the same, just different degrees. Interestingly enough, the audiologist never used the word deaf. They used the word hearing impaired. It was not until I saw the doctor this summer that I learned I was actually deaf, and have been a long time, but the process to deafness was so gradual, it was unnoticed. As a general rule, people don't know what another person's experience is like until they have experienced it themselves, no matter what the experience is. We need to educate people on tolerance and compassion above all else. I went to read and learn from you what you have to say, but you have no blog posts. I was curious to learn more about you.

  5. Deaf Pixie,

    Your comment was confusing and all over the place. I could not quite understand what you were trying to say. Can you elaborate on why you think that her friends are at fault? Also, how do you know that Xpressive Handz relies on an oral interpreter? How do you know that she will miss 70% of what will be said? Then you said she will only understand 30%. What? Do you happen to know what kind of hearing loss she has? It always irritates me when random strangers act as if they know everything or that they personally know the writer of the blog post when they have never met the person.

    Also, what comment did Xpressive Hands make on Jamie Berke's blog that made you shake your head at it? Just curious. I also looked for your blog and info. and could not find anything. Would like to learn more about you as well.

    Xpressive Hands,

    Do you rely on an oral interpreter? Or ASL interpreter? Or neither?

  6. Hi, e,

    I depend mostly on my husband these days, but in places I can have an ASL interpreter, I do ask for one now. I prefer total communication. I'm looking forward to seeing CC at our church sometime in the near future now that we have that technology for other older citizens losing their hearing but don't know ASL. They stay home because they can't hear and they don't know ASL. I think communication in all forms should be used where it is possible in public and media. I remember living in one place where they had a little square box in the corner of the screen with an ASL interpreter signing along with the commentators. Maybe they did away with that when Closed Captioning came along? I don't know.

    Thank you for your commnets, e. I was confused, as well, which is why I suspect it was a young person writing. By the way, anyone under the age of 50 is young to me these days. :-)

    I have to be paying close attention to follow conversations these days, and after things like church or the gym, I try to come home to sleep because it is so exhausting to try to follow and then figure out the direction of the conversation. I compare it to playing Wheel of Fortune all day, only with words instead of letters. I used to hear, I could hear as a child until the ear infections started. By the time I was in my late 20's and early 30's, I had a mild to moderate loss, by the 40's into severe and profound loss in areas.

    Now in my 50's the doctor said to just say I'm "deaf" though I technically "latent deaf".

  7. Xpressive Handz said...
    Here is a thought. Deaf Pixie. Your comments here in writing are a great example of how confusing trying to decipher what someone is saying to us. The only difference is, here we can read and re-read, but if we're conversing, we can't revisit, the conversation has already passed. Then we're moving on to the next bit. I do find, however, and this is what confuses people, some folks are easy to read in person while others are not. Some people are easier to hear than others. My hearing aids pick up deep men's voices behind me, That is where my microphone is, behind my hear. I will hear some of that person, but not the person standing right in front of me. That may be a good subject for another blog post.