There is no "normal" for me. Acceptance of that statement/fact is huge for me, and it puts me in a new space that requires constant review and challenges. I struggle to develop a better mental toughness most days, that is required to bring me out of a place and space where I often drift to in my hearing and balanced challenged world.
In the past eighteen months I have lost much: Hearing, balance, a beloved family pet, and my spouse of 19 years. But I have gained much in that time. Managing my expectations of a new life, is the challenge and the new reality of my this new space that I occupy in the universe.
I recently read a quote by Michael J. Fox, the Canadian actor who lives daily with the quirks and jerks of Parkinson's disease.
"I may be different from other people, but someone told me that the growth of happiness is in direct proportion to your acceptance, and in inverse proportion to our expectation"
This was an epiphany of sorts to be sure. I read it, and re read it until it struck me as why there are days that I get mired or stuck in the "why can't I just be normal".
I have what I have, and my cochlear challenged world is what it is.
I will never get hearing back as it existed pre-1997. So once I grip that fact, I can move forward to deal with life as it exists now. Which more often than not is hearing at a 80% level of comprehension in quiet situations, filling in the rest with good guesses; and hearing at a sub 50% level in noisy environments, and playing a huge, but oft-times hilarious guessing game.
"Are they not bastards? " I heard from a friend last night with my processor and mic on the opposite side of the speaker.
"Huh? No, no, they are good people" I responded, "not bastards"
"No, no, Baptists, not bastards" they corrected.
I can and do laugh at the daily frustrations of what I "get", but what I "miss" is the source of frustrations. Phones are still a nightmare, for me and for the callers I suspect. Some calls that should be around a minute or two in length are five minutes in qualifying the caller.
"I'm sorry who are you asking for"
"Who are you again"?
"Are you with a company"?
"I'm sorry I am hearing challenged, can you tell me the subject of your call"?
"One more time, is it David or Dan you are looking for?"
"Oh hi Mom, sorry"
Confidence at times slips out of my persona like warm air through a open door. I go through the "this sucks, and I am alone now to deal with it" daily. Yet there are times, where I give thanks to this technology and marvel at the implants and what they provide in sound for this deaf as box of cereal boy.
Michael J. Fox hit a spot in his challenges and said "This sucks, this is what it is and this sucks, and then you move on from there"
While I am in that spot or space, I still ask myself if the universe decided to play a cosmic joke, or a God of my understanding decided that life was too easy, and needed to put me through a cosmic test, and took away some powerful things, and people in my life, to see how I deal with life without the love and understanding of some people, and the necessities of normal hearing and balance.
If I accept this as my new spot here, and accept that even that is ever changing, then I can start to deal with life from a better vantage point. I have what I have. End of story. Move forward now.
Yoga and meditation keeps me grounded and provides a "jumping off" point for the day. Deep and slow double breaths remind me that I have life. The slow process of air entering my lungs and slowly filling into the belly, gives me hope and is a reminder that 18 months ago I fought survival in a coma on life support. Written off and family gathered around, I somehow was given a chance at a comeback. But hearing would be the cost of this battle.
In my silence I changed of course, and saw the world through vision and touch.
Eyes became my ears, and a new vision of life emerged.
A gentler kinder vision as I needed compassion and understanding to survive in the dog eat dog environment, so I best learn how to give compassion and understanding if I was to receive it.
So the metamorphosis of David began in a hospital bed, but continues daily.
I lower my expectations of what I can and cannot do now in life, and I learn acceptance of my new life without important things and people in my life. So much I shared with people that no longer grace my world, go unshared. So be it. It changes not the fact that they exist with or without what or who I have or do not have at this point in my life.
Michael J. Fox has a small square painting hanging on his office wall. Just black text on a white background that immortalizes an expression Fox, a former heavy drinker, used as he was trying to quit and accept Parkinson's disease.
It reads: "fuck it and breathe."
This morning as a beautiful sun rose, and I stood in full Tree Pose attempting ujjayi breaths, I drifted to that spot that dogs me. The confidence escaping me as I dreaded the Monday morning dealings with the phone at work and the frustration that comes with it.
Life became calm and clear when I removed any and all expectations and stopped reacting. As radical and unfamiliar as this was, it calmed me, and my attention shifted inwards.
I have what I have.
I am what I am.
Now fuck it and just breathe David.