Colorful Feelings

Thanksgiving is approaching and thoughts of gathering around the dining room table brings to mind one of my favorite articles, *Table Scraps, written by a late-deafened adult, Jerry Barnhart. He compares the late-deafened family member hoping for a few scraps of conversation at the dining room table to the family dog hoping for a few scraps of food.  When I read this article a colorful picture comes to mind.

close up of crayonsI like to think of my feelings as crayons to choose from to color my life.  There have been times I have sat at
the dining room table and I have colored myself red with anger that family members are not communicating to me. There are other times that I color myself black with feelings of despair and withdraw from those around me.  And then there are the times I color myself in shades of blue with feelings of peace and tranquility that those I love the most surround me.

When I became deaf I did not want to be responsible for my feelings.  Deafness was responsible..  I blamed or attributed to others how I felt.  I used language implying others made me angry, sad, or happy.   I never took ownership of my feelings or the power I have to choose how I will feel or how I will relate to others or deafness.  I realize now that no one or thing can make me feel a certain way without my giving to him/her/it that permission.

Some of us grieve the loss of music.  I grieve the loss of small talk.  The talk that fills the air at a dining room table.  That’s probably why I color myself with so many feelings as family gathers together on this special day. I am not sure what colors I will use this year and how much more I still grieve inside.  I do know that I will take ownership of my feelings. No person at that table will have the power to make me feel a certain way.  I will make the choice myself from a wide range of colorful feelings.

(A reprint of an article I wrote 20 years ago, when I was the founding President of ALDA-Suncoast of Florida, a support group for people who have become deaf.  The article appeared in the newsletter, ALDA-Sun. At the time, I was going back to school to change professions from being a foreign language teacher to becoming a mental health counselor.)

*Table Scraps appears in chapter 6, page 57 in ALDABest 1987 – 1996..