Chronicles of Deafness

Starting at the end: the shame of deafness

There are a multitude of subjects I want to write about here on Crônicas. However, I’m going to continue “answering” the previous post, which was the first contact the blog had with readers, to talk about the need to overcome the shame of deafness. I could start by talking about my childhood, but it’s more pertinent now to start from the end, that is, from the end of this shame, which is the beginning of a new life.

When we receive the diagnosis, the most incredible thing is that we don’t think about ourselves at the time. We think of others first. Ridiculous, isn’t it? But that’s exactly how it works. Instead of thinking about how to improve our quality of life, the only thing on our minds is THEM. Who? The rest of the world. Those who might suspect that we don’t listen. Those who might notice our hearing aids and spread the word. Oh dear!

The shame of showing that I have braces

To give you an idea of how much it panics me, the first time I went to class in high school wearing my braces, I almost put on a static wig! I swear! Instead of being happy to hear birdsong and other noises that I didn’t even remember existed, the shame of my deafness only allowed me to think one thing:“There’s no way THEY can see my hearingaids!”. Even though it’s an intracanal device that you can only see with X-ray vision!

But, as always, what we try hardest to hide is what shows up the most. So, in those days, a colleague became suspicious of my nervous tic with my hair (I kept pulling out strands to cover my ears) and, in a moment of carelessness, asked me: “What’s that inside your ears?”. I froze. No lie, it was more like I’d seen Capeta. I went gaga, and after about five minutes the only response that came out of my mouth was:“It’s to put medicine in my eardrum“. A total madwoman! As soon as I’d said that nonsense, I evaporated.

Today, I can talk about it with a laugh. But at the time, it gave me heartburn, discouragement, panic and nervousness. Everything! When I went to tell my best friend about it, I made the story so long and full of suspense that the poor guy thought I’d told him I’d killed someone. When he finally got the news, he just said: “I’m sorry.Oh, was that it? Right, and what else do you tell me?” It was then that I realized that the frill was much simpler and duller than I had imagined!

Where does the shame of deafness come from

In fact, the shame of deafness is due to our fear that people will start treating us differently. Many do. Others don’t. But if we think about it, so what? Deafness teaches a beautiful lesson: that of strength. So you have two options. Either you move forward with your head held high and don’t waste time on other people’s opinions and malice, or you fall into a total depression and waste years of your precious life thinking about people who don’t give a damn about your hearing loss. Deafness, after all, is not a character flaw! We have no control over it.

There will be impatient people, there will be rude people, there will be inconsiderate and rude people who will hurt us. Now what? They also exist in all other aspects of life. It’s inevitable, in the early days, to want to isolate yourself from the world. In fact, we need to stop and digest this “new event” before we continue living. Yes, it takes time. In fact, it could take a long time. But one day you get out of bed regretting every single second you wasted on THEM. Fuck them! So it’s up to you to learn how to deal with deafness – not least in order to educate people about how you think it’s best to be treated.

My main piece of advice is just one: don’t enjoy depression. No feeling sorry for yourself. The most sensible thing to do is to look for a solution (in this case, if it’s possible to use hearing aids, go for it!), face up to this new reality and carry on doing the things you’ve always done. 😉

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About Author

Paula Pfeifer é uma surda que ouve com dois implantes cocleares. Ela é autora dos livros Crônicas da Surdez, Novas Crônicas da Surdez e Saia do Armário da Surdez e lidera a maior comunidade digital do Brasil de pessoas com perda auditiva que são usuárias de próteses auditivas.

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