It’s confession time. Here are some of the things I did that delayed my recovery and stopped me from accepting late-deafness. I underlined “some” because this list is by no means complete.
Denial … I denied that my deafness was permanent. I believed that surgery would cure it.
Guilt… I believed that God was punishing me and that I must have done something wrong in my life to deserve becoming deaf.
Bargained … I tried to negotiate a deal with God to restore my hearing.
Body image…. I placed too much importance on how the body functions physically (ears hearing).
Value transformation … I could not shift my values from outside appearances (one who can’t hear) to more important values such as who I was inside.
Acting as if …or bluffing I could hear. Laughing, smiling, and nodding my head just at the right moment to give the impression I understood.
Spread … I allowed deafness to spill over into other areas of my being (ex. emotional, psychological) and not just affect the physical ability to hear.
Sick role… My feelings of being sick were validated by the treatment I received for my jaw injury and deafness. Therefore, I assumed the role of being sick and played the part well.
Secondary Gains… I enjoyed the secondary gains and perceived them as being positive: attention from my family, money (social security), release of responsibility (not answering phones, not attending meetings etc.).
External locus of control … I believed that I had little control over my life because I could not hear sounds around me. Instead of believing that reinforcement was brought about by my own behavior, I believed that reinforcement was under the control of other people.
Succumbed… At times I gave in to hearing loss and focused on what I could no longer do and what had been lost.
Resiliency… I often lacked the ability to adapt, bounce back, and to be flexible.
Responsibility… I did not take responsibility to respond to late-deafness by making responses that were different and more constructive than previous responses.
Yep! I did all that and it negatively affected recovery. I never would have admitted to it at the time but now I not only recognize that I did these things, I feel at peace. I have identified my behavior with a term from a textbook. Seeing it in print validates that I’m not alone with how I reacted. It has also helped me to process the past and accept why my recovery was delayed.
(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.)