Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Standing Up For My Deaf-Hearing Self

My husband and I had a guest visit us, and we all went to dinner a couple of nights. Our guest has known me for many years; but, spent more time with me as a deaf person than one who can now hear.

Over the course of my deaf  life, people around me either responded in one of two ways: kind of ignoring me, since I couldn't hear anyway; or, drawn to me, even though I was deaf. 
   Those who ignored me made little or no effort to really get to know me, nor to see what they could do to make it easier for me to understand what was being said. Those drawn to me would immediately know, or would ask, what to do to make communication easier.

So, our guest was basically one who didn't really care to make any real effort to communicate with me...only when he had to, or wanted me to hear about him. I found that quite selfish, and felt it exposed him more than me being physically impaired. Yes, I have an attitude that causes me to surmise to such conclusions of others...

My interpretation of such people is: "I'm not worth the effort it takes; therefore, they make no real effort." This may not be fair of me; and yet, it might be more than fair. I don't know; all I know is what I see and feel, and it causes one to derive to a conclusion --> correct or incorrect.

Anyway, back to our guest...the first dinner we had together, I was simply a purse in a chair. I sat there with everyone at the same time, ordered my food, and communicated beautifully with the waiter the entire night; but, to my guest, he looked directly at my husband, elbows on table with hands blocking his mouth, talking 95mph with head moving from side-to-side (looking around the room while talking), downward toward food, back up toward Randy-->with no consideration that another person is there, and would like to be included.

Since he was visiting, and this was our first dinner together, I let it go. I hated feeling like a purse in a chair, though...big time.

So, we had plans for another dinner, and I didn't want to go. "Why should I attend a dinner in which I'm there, but not there?," was my heightened already-perturbed attitude. My husband wasn't aware of this, because I hadn't said anything. He had been out of town, due to work, and we were to meet with our guest with no time to spare.

We were seated, the waiter took our beverage order, and then our dinner choices. The salads came, and by this time I was back at being a purse in a chair.

I reached over, picked up my purse and jacket, got up, and walked my husband was astonishingly asking, "Where are you going?" 

"I'm leaving," I answered.

I suppose Randy immediately got up and followed me out, because when I reached the parking lot, he was right behind me.

Full of sweet and hurt anger (is there such a thing?), and tears in my eyes, I told him that I deserve to be included!! "I am not going to sit through another dinner, giving leeway to a man who has no regard for my presence." I also let him know that I did not appreciate that he played into the scenario. It takes TWO to leave the third completely out, and I'm not standing for it! He said he felt it too, and was so sorry. He knew it was happening, and didn't like it; but, went along because of the guest.

I walked back into the restaurant *sigh* (was my nose in the air, full of pride?..I don't remember it being that way; but, walking back to the table is still a bit of a blur) - set my things down, and looked directly at our guest. I said to him very firmly, "I sat through one dinner without being included; but, I'm not going to do it again. I am worth the little effort it takes to communicate with. It is challenging to hear and communicate, especially in a noisy environment; but, I show up, I work hard at the challenge, and I make an effort. I read lips, I have a personality, and I am intelligent. I expect to be treated as such! No more hands over mouths, we will slow our speech down so I can follow along, and face me often so that I can see you talk! I expect to be included, not discluded."

His eyes were wide open in disbelief of what I just did (as were my husband's)! He did not say one word in reply, nor did he apologize. My husband, being the Switzerland, neutral, don't-rock-the-boat type, had a mixed face...a crooked smile knowing this is the wife he married, shock, sincere apology...said, "It was my fault. I'm so sorry, Gina."

I have the sweetest husband. May God richly bless him, and cover him with protection, favor, and honor!, in Jesus' Name.

We began eating our salads. I started a topic of conversation - and,to our guest's very great surprise, I had a brain, feelings, and opinions. We went on as if nobody had been firmly chastised just a few minutes prior by moi. In fact, the evening was one of the most delightful we've ever had, and I know he feels the same.

Standing up for myself changed that person's perspective and approach toward me. I believe he realized it took very little effort on his part to adjust his ways in order to include me. Three minds, three viewpoints, three personalities...three human beings.

Hearing has also changed ME -- I expect to be included. I am worth the effort to communicate with.