A Tale Of Being Deaf: Part 1

Rummaging through my memory box, I find a large piece of paper and immediately reminisce about the third grade. During this time period, my classmates took turns to showcase their likes and dislikes for a week by answering simple questions such as, "What is your favorite food?," "What is your favorite color?" and "What is your wish?" What is your wish? A simple, yet complex question. Thinking back, my classmates' answers were most likely to obtain the power to fly or adopt a puppy. Being the black sheep, I answered in my sloppy handwriting, "To hear without CI's."

Growing up, I would pray every single night and beg God, a greater being or really anything out there to bestow hearing upon me, only to wake up the next morning disappointed. I was and always will be, profoundly and utterly deaf no matter what. Unfortunately, it took me several years to realize that. I was young, hopeful and innocent. Whenever I got upset, my mom would promise me that soon, the doctors will invent internal devices to restore my hearing. It sounded too good to be true. Many years later here I am, still wearing external cochlear implants. Do not get me wrong, I am extremely grateful for my cochlear implants. Throughout my nineteen years of life, I have gone through three different kinds of cochlear implants. My first one was bulky, gray and ugly, but at least I decorated it with a Nemo sticker. My second one was a major improvement, but regardless, it was still hard and heavy. My third and current one is the best prototype so far. It provides me the clearest, most precise sounds and luckily it is not heavy or ugly. So yes, my hearing has improved over the years due to technological advancements (and speech therapy), but most people do not realize that cochlear implants are meant to replicate hearing, not to restore or replace normal hearing.

Now, while I have recognized and accepted that fact that I will be deaf until the day I die, there is a part of me that is conflicted. During the day, I am not usually aware of my hearing impairment. It is simply a part of who I am and I go on living my life the way I should- content and secured. However, during the night, I am once again hyper aware when I have to take off my cochlear implants before bedtime. Essentially, I am two people in one. I am a hearing person, but I am also a deaf person. Each side of me are equally important, considering I have devoted my whole entire life to develop these roles and sense of identities to fit in and cope. Hence, my poem below highlights my struggles, which I will discuss more later in the series, and my conflicting intersectional roles.

I am Two in One

Born into a hostile environment,

where insults and stereotypes lurked in dark shadows,

I was held captive by uncertainties.

 

Trapped,

I was not prepared --

nor was anyone else.

 

Despite being small and fragile

my senses enabled me to be secured --

explorative and curious.

 

Somewhere lost in the passage of time,

noises filled my ear in one moment

and in the next,

silence overwhelmed me

and I no longer felt secured.

 

Banging pots would rattle the house  

but never my eardrums.

My name traveled from people's mouths

but wavered in the air confused,  

never finding a responsive home to inhabit.  

 

Seeking for explanations,  

but failing,  

questions piled up  

by the closet full of hidden answers.

 

Until one day,

a short, simple

yet complex

sentence unlocked the closet door.

 

"Jenny is deaf."  

Answers surged out and bombarded my family.  

The world as we knew changed --  

forever.  

 

Like mismatching puzzle pieces,   

nothing worked together and  

everything worked against each other.  

 

Hearing aids were just baseballs to throw,  

dismissing them.  

Clothes were straight jackets,  

suffocating me.

Preferences for temperatures and textures were on a delicate balance,  

always fluctuating dramatically.  

 

Nothing seemed right.  

With hearing impairment and sensory processing disorder,  

I was a soldier,  

and life was a brutal battle.  

 

From jumping cars from cars,  

to places to places,  

never stagnant,  

my body was made to sit still in a chair and feel vibrations,

not for going outside

and feeling the fresh air.  

 

I longed for play time.  

I desired for a break.

I craved for normalcy.   

 

On a fine line

between finding my true identity and conforming,

I never quite fit in.  

 

As the days, months, and years went on,  

I learned to adapt to my environment.

 

Living in the best of both worlds,

I gained the power to choose between  

submerging myself into silence or  

putting on my cochlear implants.  

 

Life is a stage,  

and I am the actor.

With conflicting roles,  

I am two in one.  

A hearing person,

but also a deaf person.  

 

Time dictates which role dominates.

During the day,

I put on a disguise of being completely normal.

During the night,  

while the world continues to make ruckus,  

silence envelops me and soothes me to sleep.