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

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Side Effect of Hearing Loss and Deafness

"I don't know what I don't hear," I once said with a tone of frustration to Fabulous Husband. We had had our first major miss-communication a couple of years ago. 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 when and 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 and misinterpret 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. I thank you for sharing your experience with hearing loss. I am not deaf however I do have problems understanding some speech. It has taken me a long time to realize that I don't hear low frequencies very well. I know that my cellphone vibrates using a small motor with a off balance weight. A year ago I could hear the motor hum when I received a call. One day I was surprised to notice that I could feel it vibrate but was unable to hear the motor.
    Yes, I know that I should have a hearing test but I can hear birds singing a mile away. It's a frequency thing.
    I wrongfully hear speech from my fabulous girlfriend. Sometimes I must rewind my brain recorder and play back in my brain what I thought I heard. Then I think to myself "oh, she must have said this".
    Some day I know I will need a hearing aid but I guess I am not mentally ready.

    1. A slow progressive loss isn't always a noticeable one. You'll get a hearing aid when you are ready. Those take time to adjust to as well, but I never leave home without mine. Thank you for stopping by the blog today, Neil.

  2. This was a great read. There have been times where my partner and I get into big, giant, heated arguments and not until way, way into the argument do we realize it's a matter of, "You said _____? I thought you said ____!" In fact looking back on it now, I'm surprised I've never realized how many of our communication issues have to do with me literally just mishearing what's being said.

    Thanks for sharing Joyce.


    1. Chloe, thank you for reading and sharing your experience, too. This happens to just about everyone at some point, and all the time to people like us who are deaf and hard of hearing.

  3. Thank you for sharing the wisdom of your experience, Joyce.

    1. :-) you're welcome, Sarah. Thank YOU for reading my posts and sharing a comment. :-)