I’ve been singled-out

Dear Lisnen. Last week I went out for lunch on Saturday with four people they are all hearing except me. One of them is my good friend, another person I kind of see every now and then but the other two people I don’t know so well. We decided to go out to a restaurant that I knew really well. However, the restaurant got bustling that day because the weather was nice and more people came out to eat. The place got really loud. I was struggling at times to hear what things were said around the table. I checked out sometimes. But then, at one point, I saw everyone look at me, and I knew that I had missed what was just said. So I asked them to repeat because it was apparent that they were looking at me for an answer to respond back. One of the people I did not know so well, sitting next to me, said out loud because I heard this time, “Well, maybe you should turn up your hearing aid.” Everyone started laughing. I have never been so humiliated. I excused myself to the bathroom to cry my eyes out. Why did they have to be so rude? SadlySingledOut

Dear  SadlySingledOut.

I am sorry that you had that encounter while hanging out with your friends last weekend. It was supposed to be a good time for you to get out and socialize to meet new people, but instead, you felt that punch in the gut when someone calls out on something so personal and vulnerable about you. I can’t tell you how often people with hearing loss get called out on their hearing loss at one point or another. It is one of the most uncomfortable situations to be in. Trust me, I know.

You have every right to be embarrassed after everyone was laughing at you. I can empathize with you. It is not easy for us to put ourselves in social situations, not knowing if it will be a good night or a lonely time. We put so much effort into encouraging ourselves to go out and socialize with people. Only then does it feel like you were better off being alone by yourself than having to put up with the crap that you went through. It isn’t cool and fair that everyone and including the friend you trusted to join in and laugh at you. I wouldn’t exactly call that person a friend based on how they behaved.

How dare they make your hearing loss a topic of conversation for their own amusement, and instead of empathizing with you and the situation you were going through, they singled you out. 

Hearing people just don’t get what it is like not to have full hearing abilities affecting their everyday lives. They will never get it until they are in your shoes or show some level of empathy. Some hearing people just don’t understand because they spend so much of their time in their own world. Some don’t care to learn and empathize with the experience of being in a noisy environment, unable to make clear of a single word but a bunch of mumbling sounds. They don’t understand the luxury that they have in certain situations. 

People who often are not empathetic to other people will struggle to identify and relate with others—those are the people who will continue to make jokes, lack compassion, and understanding for your situation. You really don’t need them in your life. Anyone who cares will understand will find a way to include you in the conversation, even if it meant leaving the place for a quieter environment.

I hate to say this, but these so-called people you were hanging out with will not be the first and only one to behave this way. There will be many other people who will attempt the same narrative at you. We live in a world where people are too quick to judge others. We can become the scapegoat for their own insecurities. The insults are really on them and the personal issues that they are fighting. Your presence and experience are triggering something inside of them. 

Knowing that you may be possibly laughed at again will help you prepare for the next time. When it happens again, you will have your head held up high and strongly assert yourself. You won’t need to run to the bathroom to cry because it is not your job to feed into their hurt and insecurities. What are you going to do in the meantime when you are feeling the pain in those situations? Remember, it’s not you. It’s them.  

Remember, you are just fine the way you are. I’m sure that it is harder to believe, especially when the pain is so great, but it is true. You are okay. Love yourself for who you are and who cares that you couldn’t hear at that restaurant as perfect as they wanted you to be. Who cares that you lost track of the conversation. Who cares that you just happen to have the hearing loss. You shouldn’t have to hold on to the burden and stress of trying to fit in. You’re you.., and there is nothing wrong with it.

Lisnen

If you have any questions to help navigate life with hearing loss, and you would like my advice and as a friend, let me help. Send me an email at asklisnen@lisnen.com.

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