Dear hearing loss/hearing aids/deafness,
It’s with a heavy heart that I write this letter, because, even after 10 years of knowing and coexisting alongside you, I still feel strangely unsure and uncomfortable. While a part of me is empowered to write openly and honestly, and tell you everything I want you to know, I’m also bound by a rattling fragility and deep sense of betrayal that has festered ever since you abruptly plunged into my life all those years ago.
But this is my chance to consider you not as an unwavering ghostly presence, but as a human being. As someone rather than something - as a conscious being who is able to understand my words and process my thoughts and feelings. For I have so much to say. You’ve had such a profound impact on my life - throwing me into an abyss. Yet at the same time you’ve given me a sense of wisdom and fighting spirit I could never have discovered without you.
So here it is, laid bare, the things I want you to know…
Why you make me sad.
Often I find myself wondering what my life would be like without you. What would a fully hearing Tamara be like? Would she have travelled more? Would she be carefree and impulsive? Would she feel content to just ‘be’?
The sadness you’ve created in my life is like a sarcophagus-shaped hollow of the Tamara I could’ve been. On some days you are incredibly taunting and frustrating - emotionally draining and upsetting. You are the reason I can feel so cold, distant and alone while surrounded by people. It’s because of you that I’ve built my walls thick and high - to protect a bubbling inner fragility and vulnerability that threatens to overspill into my confident and resilient outer shell. And it’s your overbearing nature that makes me question whether I deserve to be loved, hired or valued.
Sometimes I also wonder if it’s you who’s held the scalpel that’s carving a hole in my life where a relationship and lots of close friends should be. Is it because I cannot accept you - because I cannot grow to love you - that you have this effect? After all, how can I expect people to love everything about me, if I do not love everything about myself?
Why you also make me grateful.
Despite all the difficulties, I want you to know I don’t consider myself a victim... nor you the obnoxious, impossible enemy. The cards I’ve been dealt haven’t been the easiest to play, but I realise I cannot scapegoat you for all the reasons why. Especially because you’ve also given me so many reasons to be grateful.
The Tamara I am is so much stronger, braver, and more determined simply because you’re in my life. You are a gust of wind in my sails and fuel in my engine - driving me to make the most of every day and appreciate every positive and good thing that comes my way.
Without you, hearing loss, I wouldn’t be the ambitious, strong-willed and fiercely independent woman I am - always pushing for more and continuously stretching my comfort zone every year that passes. I never question whether I’ve given enough, because I know that everything I do is with passion. My loyalty and dedication to my friends and family never falters and my desire for the best is, in my eyes, a strength and not an adversary.
Every day I strive to be just and honest, and at the very least, a good person. And I know this is likely down to you.
So for all this, I am grateful.
Why you make me unique.
I may share you with 11 million other people in the UK, but in your own little way you make me unique. I’m different, and have an exclusive outlook on the world which I cherish and savour - particularly when times are tough and you’re gnawing down on my energy, confidence and self-esteem.
You see, while in many ways you’ve burdened my life and isolated me from certain experiences of my peers, in others you have enriched it - and have opened a door onto a world that flourishes in lower volume. Peaceful sleep, mindful thoughts, visual brilliance and enhanced self-awareness are among your more positive effects. And since you’re classed as a disability, I’m also lucky to have access to a number of aids and benefits that make a small, yet significant difference to my life.
But above all, you’ve given me a unique sense of responsibility and resolve to be bolder and more resilient. If I have an innate purpose in life, it’s to use you as resource to stay humble and sincere, and to better myself and prove that having a disability won’t hold me back.
So for this, I am thankful.