A Tale Of Being Deaf: Part 3

It’s funny to say that I was bullied, when in reality, I don’t even remember most of the events that occurred early in my childhood. My horror stories live on through my family, who remind me of the troubles that I had to go through. Analyzing some of the stories, I am sure that they are exaggerated, but nonetheless my experiences with bullying were very real.

Growing up, I constantly dealt with wrapping my head around the fact that the world was not always exactly kind. This concept was too complex for my young mind. I simply could not comprehend why people had to be cruel. After all, aren’t we all supposed to be equal? At least that is what I thought growing up. Alas, this concept did not hold true with some of the experiences I had.

In first grade, as you can imagine, playing was a beloved thing in my class. When the bell rang, my peers and I would run out the door and go straight to the playground. There, we would play our usual game of tag. Sounds simple? Not exactly. My peers and I would be in the process of assigning people as “it” when a girl would proclaim, “You can’t play with us!” If it was a one-time event, you may have assumed that it was merely a minor conflict. However, that is far from the truth. Every single day, the cycle continued to the point where it broke me down. But she did not stop there. One day, I was hanging upside down from a bar when my cochlear implant fell off. She walked over, stomped on it and broke it. I remember having to explain to my teacher what happened. I almost couldn’t because I simply could not understand what I had done to provoke the girl to dislike me with such a burning passion. With nowhere to turn for guidance at the time, I blamed myself. This feeling progressed later on when the school barely took action and the girl’s parents refused to pay for the damage.

In second grade, I transferred to a new school to receive better support and resources. While life was better there, I still faced troubles. When I first arrived, I had trouble fitting in, already diminishing my self-esteem. During recess, I would give my best attempt to blend in and thus complied with playing any of the popular games. One of the games was tag yet again. One day, I began to play the game with two girls and they assigned me as ”it”. At first, it was fun. But then, I began to notice a pattern in which I was always “it”. It became more of a game where they would run away from me while laughing. As soon as they saw me, they ran away -- thus prohibiting discussions. I would chase and chase but never get anywhere. I simply could not tell them that I was so upset and consequently, I gave up. I would stand there and watch them stand far away from me. I melted down one day in front of my teacher and told her that one of the girls was mistreating me. The result: I had to apologize to the girl. The girl also had to apologize to me, but her apology was short and sweet. Recess never got better that year.

It is unclear whether my bullying experiences were a result of my deafness. However, at the time, I was still learning how to include my hearing impairment into my identify and so, whenever conflicts arose, I immediately connected my bullies’ motives to my deafness. I didn’t know what else to think; because of this, all I knew was that those with disabilities were an easy target to pick on.

Unfortunately, this caused me to associate deafness with shame at a young age. While I have matured to the point where I simply accept the way that I am, I still get uncomfortable with positive comments pertaining to my hearing impairment. It was not until recent years that I began to flourish to the point where people started to notice my achievements and point them out. Hence, it wasn’t really until high school that people began to say how proud they were of me. It’s tragic that I have not yet fully accepted the truth behind people’s comments due to wariness and embarrassment. After all, people’s intentions are in the right place - I just have to learn to put my mind and heart in the right place. The world is unpredictable and cruel, but out of the darkness comes pure goodness and light.

Note: “A Tale of My Own Silent Word” is based on the style of Black Boy by Richard Wright.

A Tale of My Own Silent World

On the days that silence prevailed upon me, as I was stubborn to put on my cochlear implants, I would climb onto the living room couch and stare out of the wide windows. Wonder would overtake me and soon, the astonishment would grow to an extent I had never felt before. Fulfilled with imagination and boredom, I entertained myself with my growing perspectives and meanings of the world.

There was the joy I felt from watching glistening raindrops play games of racing as they chased and weaved around each other.

There was the feeling of amazement from learning new shapes that appeared on the tree branches.

There was the feeling of excitement and astonishment as the shy sun played games of hide-and-seek with its beaming rays.

There was the wide-grin that took over half of my face as I observed fearless squirrels who were clambering up trees and startling the fleeing birds.

There was the low, silent chuckle produced from watching dog owners being dragged behind their eager dogs.

There was the curiosity that derived from learning the sequence of leaves changing colors in the fall.

There were the luring sleepy and calming effects that came from snowflakes

delicately falling toward the green earth.

There was the bitter sadness that enveloped me as I noticed the bare, cold ground being revealed by the melting snow.

There was the feeling of relief from watching bees buzz around with no direction or purpose, for it meant spring was impending.

There was the hint of fascination from watching the moon attempt to break through the pearly-white clouds on clear, cloudy nights…

The world as I knew started to change around me. These expanding observations I collected over time soon inspired and provoked me with endless questions.

“Momma, why is the sun following me?” I asked bewildered.

“Silly girl. The sun is in the center of the universe,” she said.

“Why is the sun in the middle?”

“I don’t know.”

After a while, I stayed silent and pondered.

“Did God put it there?” I challenged.

“He must have,” she responded.

“Why not anywhere else?”

“Everything He does has a reason.”

“What were His reasons for putting the sun where it is now?”

“I don’t know.”

Her answers didn’t fully satisfy me and I soon gave up. These inquiries

consistently grew and remained with me growing up. Soon, the nature of my trivial, simple questions changed after one significant event.

One warm day during first grade, the bell rang and I eagerly ran outside to play tag with my friends. However, my hope was soon diminished. Before me stood a girl declaring that I was not allowed to play. I was baffled and angry. Never before had I encountered negativity. I could not comprehend the reasoning behind the rejection, but nonetheless, I was determined to stand my ground. I pouted and declared I would not leave, and soon, my friends backed me up. Eventually, the girl left and we continued playing our game.

After the bell rang and we had to go inside, I sat by myself and replayed the event in my mind. A new sense of reflection was bestowed upon me and I was able to come to a conclusion- the girl didn’t like me because of my deafness! (Years later, I mulled over my childhood and realized how impractical and naive I was. My conclusion was invalid because her action was purely based on jealousy.) The world I knew changed. All of these suppressed observations welled up inside me and changed my views on certain things. I began to watch hearing-capable people at play with jealousy. Serious questions overtook my trivial, simple questions and I began to ask myself, “What would my life be like if I wasn’t deaf?”

From that day on forward, the world became less simple. My views on things altered. I noticed how people attempted to sneak glances toward me and lacked the decency to resist whispering rudely. I became more aware of how people slowly and loudly spoke and either politely or fearfully acted awards me. I became more sensitive to snide or joking comments made. I formed a compassionate, unique understanding towards the unfortunate. I quickly grew more mature and thoughtful. This enabled me to be able to detect and interpret people’s complex emotions and thoughts. I also gained a profound sense of the way the world operates.

Thus, the barrier of innocence implanted inside me faded, and I quickly learned how to distinguish between the genuine people and the dubious people. Transformed at a young age, the reality of life became more complex and renewed. Everything I had known before became foreign and the harsh, unpredictable, exciting, real world faced towards me and influenced and determined who I would become today.