I wondered if there were someone just like me on another planet, if they had dry cleaners up there, and the symbol and myth of Jesus Christ. I wanted to find out what she did when her heart grew so heavy not even lying smack on the ground relieved the terrible ache.
— from Book of Ruth, by Jane Hamilton
So it’s no secret around here that I have a wee, small, barely noticeable – ha – hearing problem. The story of how it started is here. But I first wrote that five years after the fact, and it really only tells the story of the day I woke up and couldn’t hear and then takes a hopeful turn at the end. What most people don’t know is that April 29, 2002, was actually not the worst day of my life, though I certainly thought so at the time. That day came about 10 months later – February 24, 2003. That’s what this part of the story is about. Lucky for me, I was a more diligent journaler back then, so what you’re about to read is the most accurate story I can give you, because it was written about two weeks after the saddest day of my life.
Well, I couldn’t have imagined what would happen in the month that’s passed since I last wrote. On February 24, I woke up at 7am and couldn’t hear . . . it was like all the other times, it just felt like pressure in my head and like if I could just yawn big enough it would go away. I wasn’t all that worried; each of the other “episodes” (maybe 5 or 6 since July ) went away over the course of the day, so I went back to sleep. What could I do? I was so tired, and the doctor’s office wasn’t open yet.
Looking back now, I think I should have known better — it always got worse when I slept — and just gotten up. As it happened, when I woke up again at 9:30, it was much worse than any other time before. Nathaniel met me at the doctor’s office at 10:15, and by the time I had my hearing test and got in to see the doctor at 11:15, I knew this was not going to turn out like all the other times.
I’ve had two hearing tests since then, each with only marginal improvement, barely enough to cover the margin of error on the test itself. Basically, without my hearing aid [which I had but hadn’t worn up until then because it didn’t give me enough benefit to make it worth it in the first 10 months] (which serves me better than it ever did before), I can only hear very loud or very high-pitched noises. Maybe that’s not really accurate . . . I can hear the coffee grinder and the toilet flushing and the water running, but I can also hear the keyboard clacking as I type and the snapping of fingers and the [tone of the] push buttons on the cordless phone. What I can’t hear is the TV or music, or people’s voices unless they are right next to me, and even then, that’s a struggle.
I didn’t realize how good I had it the last 10 months . . . I kept lamenting my fate, and now I would give anything to get back to what I could hear on the 23rd. At least then I could sing along to the radio and watch TV without my hearing aid and hear voices.
I’ve talked about this so many times over the past two weeks that I don’t even want to write it again here, but this is where it should be, so I will. I mostly feel like I’m drowning, dying, like my heart is physically breaking. I can’t sleep, I cry all the time, and think about killing myself. In the daylight, I can see that’s crazy and I know I would never do it, but it sometimes seems preferable to a life without sound. There are many moments of complete self-pity, which are sometimes followed in short order by moments of clarity in which I know for sure that I will get through this.
There is a deep and terrible ache in my soul when I think about what I have lost and how my life is not going to turn out the way I thought it would. I feel as though I am being punished for something, not because I really believe in karma, but because there is no other explanation. I am angry that I spent the last 10 months crawling out of the darkest hole I could imagine, and just when I was at the point when I could see the light and just when I was beginning to know and believe that life could still be good, I got swallowed back up.
I feel like I can’t admit the amount of pain I am in because it is an unfair burden to place on my family and friends. It hurts them to see me in a pain they can’t take away, so I would rather shield them from that. They all say that’s unnecessary, but I can see that I could wear down their patience and understanding without meaning to, and then I’d be left with nothing, with no one.
My biggest fear is that I will now never get anyone to fall in love with me, so I might never get the things I dreamed of: a family and a home.* I feel like I am damaged goods in more ways than one, and I don’t know how to present myself to the world. I can’t imagine getting to know anyone new — most of my old “friends” can’t even be bothered to deal with the deaf girl anymore, so why should anyone new be any different?
I am conflicted in so many ways: I want help, but I don’t want to ask for it; I want people to acknowledge this change, but I don’t want people to treat me any differently; I want my family around me, but when they’re here, I push them away; I want my friends to be with me, but I want to be alone; I want to die, but I so want my life back. I am so close to the edge of crazy, I can feel it calling to me. I could be an alcoholic if I hadn’t been a Psych major. What I wouldn’t give to check myself into a hospital for a week and just let go . . . but no, that’s not the way it’s done in my family. We’re much too strong for that; we don’t need hospitalization or medication, even when you want to drive your car off the nearest cliff (of which, luckily, there aren’t too many around here).
I pray every night for guidance and patience and strength that I might find my way through this. If I am honest, I also pray to get even just a little bit better, which I know is selfish, but I can’t help it. I don’t know who I’m praying to, and, of course, I never used to pray at all, but I’m not sure what else to do. It seems like it can’t hurt, and maybe it’s the only way to find an answer. I don’t want to be sad or angry all the time; I wish I didn’t have to go through this process all over again. I want to skip straight to the part where I accept that this is what’s happened to me and now I just have to “straighten up and fly right” and get on with the rest of my life. But I don’t know what that looks like, and I sure as hell don’t know any shortcuts to get there.
I want to be happy again, I want to weave my parachute out of everything broken, as they say, I want to be ok and not want to hide under the covers afraid of the world. I feel like so much has been taken from me, and I don’t really feel safe in the world anymore, and I am not the same person I was last month, let alone last March before all this happened. And that makes me angry. I was a good person, and I was changing and becoming who I wanted to be and I liked that person and I was happy. Now I feel like I don’t know anything for sure anymore, and that’s not fair.
I only have 3 friends now, and my family; my world has shrunk smaller than I would have ever imagined, and people that I thought truly cared about me have decided they don’t or can’t and I’ve had to let them go. The last 10-and-a-half months have been the worst of my life, and the last two weeks have managed to be even worse. I know it doesn’t help to stew in it, and I try to get up each day and just live it, but it is not easy. I want to be happy, I want to even believe that I can be happy again. I try to hold on to what is true for me, but right now it’s not so clear to me what those things are.
I pray, I truly do, for guidance; I know I need help to find my way because I honestly do feel lost. My mind doesn’t feel connected to the rest of me. I walk around in a shell of myself, like my soul is missing. I need to be put back together . . . I just hope I can find all the pieces.
Even this doesn’t tell the whole story. That day, February 24th, after my doctor’s appointment, I was inconsolable. I don’t know if even Nate or Aimee know this, but when I got home from the doctor’s office, I laid on the floor of my room and sobbed for at least an hour. I cried big, hard tears, and rocked from side to side, because there was so much pain inside me I couldn’t stay still. I cried so loudly and for so long that I thought my neighbors would call someone, and part of me wanted them to. I wanted someone – a fireman, an EMT, a police officer – to walk into my apartment and find me wracked with sobs and in such pain that they would immediately take me somewhere where I couldn’t hurt myself and where I could just cry for days without having to worry about scaring anyone with the intensity of my sadness. No one came.
I don’t remember the aftermath of that – when Aimee came home, or when my parents came back down, or what happened in the two weeks between living those hours of that day and writing about them. I just remember lying on my bedroom floor and wishing I was dead so I wouldn’t have to hurt anymore.
But I didn’t die, obviously; heartache doesn’t kill you. It doesn’t make you stronger, either, in my opinion; it just nearly kills you.
* This night, down on the waterfront with David, I looked up at him and, with complete wonder in my voice, knowing I was in love for good, I said, “I’m going to get everything I want.” I only just realized the parallel when I typed that line from my journal. Life is a funny – wonderful, glorious, mysterious – thing.