Looking Back

Are you gonna smile for our Christmas picture?

I love Christmas. Yet my love for Christmas has changed for all the right reasons. With age comes an appreciation for life and the “Reason for the season”. However, immediately following Christmas there is an anticipation for the closure of yet another year.

For me, that might mean psyching myself up to begin writing 2010 on written documents. I always hope I’ll not even hesitate with the right date by at least… erm… June. It’s a time of preparing resolutions, many of which are repeats. That’s sobering in and of itself!

It’s also a time for reflection, however. I like to look back on a year and really dissect it. Some folks thing this extremely odd, or perhaps even unhealthy. Certainly it can be unhealthy if your reflection becomes a yearning and stubborn refusal to move on with life. It can be challenging when that reflection encompasses a year that was really difficult. For me… difficulty is defined by what kind of emotional, mental and spiritual year it was.

Defining “Difficult”

At some point in my life, I may have thought that physical problems characterized a difficult year. However, I’ve experienced brain injury, high risk pregnancies, acquired disabilities and gray hair. Perhaps my own perspective would be different had I experienced living with a terminal illness. Likely, there are those who have extremely different opinions about what constitutes a “tough year” because of such illnesses.

For now, “difficult” includes all of those emotional, mental and spiritual problems that have me sending S.O.S. prayers. Perhaps because I’m a wife and mother, it is much harder for me to deal with difficulties when they happen to people I care about. I suppose there is some truth to the saying that God gives grace to the individual facing the trial. My loved ones “going through it” eventual find the strength to push through and grow. I’m often left feeling and re-living the trauma of their pain long after they have moved on with life.

Having experienced just such a year, one where those I loved experienced the kind of struggles, trials and heartaches that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, I recognize a tiny step of growth.

Own What is Yours

It may be because my children are no longer small and the fact that they are young adults, that I can entrust them to God more easily than I have in the past. Sure… it may be because I’ve finally developed that good habit and it just happens to coincide with their age! I think it more has to do with realizing at some point that even hard years are good for them… just as they were good for me.

When I began losing my hearing after the birth of my son at the age of 25, it was gradual enough that I was able to pretend it wasn’t happening for a good number of years. It wasn’t until I was much closer to 30 that I realized I needed to go see my doctor and then an audiologist regarding my hearing and balance. Over the following decade, I would learn that the emotional toll of hearing loss was much more difficult to work through that actually learning to live with the hearing loss itself. I suppose the most important thing I learned was that my husband, my mother, and my friends were incapable of helping me learn to live with hearing loss. Certainly their support eventually helped me learn to “stand on my own two feet”. Much like a baby pulling itself up on wobbly, inexperienced legs, I had to to take that first step and then another. My “support” network was there to cheer and clap and catch me should they see me falling. But learning to “walk” required that I take that first step. Ultimately, I learned that there was only One who would not let me down. People are… well – they’re people! Human, and fallible in spite of good intentions and commitment! I honestly do not know how I would have ever lived through learning to live in a world gone “silent” if not for my relationship with God. This relationship was not dependent on the ability to communicate using ears.

I believe that every person may grow and thrive if they learn to “own what is their own”. I run into (both physically and virtually) many different people who are going through many different kinds of things. What has been hard for me as a mother is to recognize that my own children must do the same. I can remain supportive and pray for them. I can offer advice (sometimes solicited but usually NOT). I can be there to extend a helping hand when they fall… because they will. Looking back on 2009, I could allow myself to be overcome with sorrow at the pain, suffering and heartache one of my children has experienced. They are still dealing with the effects of these difficulties. And yet… they ARE dealing with it.

Be an Example… the Good Kind

You never know who may be watching. It could be your child, spouse or significant other. The ‘watcher’ may be a co-worker, a family member or a neighbor. It may be that cashier you see every week at the grocery store. It may be someone you share an elevator with every single work day. What exactly do I want people to see? What remains the best influence, the best example? Handling life in a good way, or belly-achin’ about how unfair it all can be?

I lay in the wet yard this past Wednesday staring at the sky. I could feel the cold, melted snow seeping into my clothing and hair. I lay there waiting for the world to stop spinning and closed my eyes to shorten that “wait”. Chloe licked my face once every minute or so, and I opened an eye to look at her. With a wag of her tail she placed a paw on my chest and looked into my face as if to say, “Hey Denise! Why are we laying in the mud? It’s OK that we are, but I just wanted to make sure you haven’t given me a command that I missed. You ended up here in a hurry, and I may have missed something?

I took the five long minutes that it took to eventually sit up and then pull myself into a wobbly stand. Chloe continued to wag her tail and did a “play bow“, enticing me to take a dive into the puddle again if it was really something I wanted to do. By this point, I was crying and feeling awfully sorry for myself. I tucked my cochlear implant into my pocket and made a bee-line for the back door and my “Dry ‘n Store”. The kids both gone to work and my hubby working in his office, I was able to hop into the shower at 6 PM without anyone the wiser. With clean pajamas I knocked on hubby’s office door, pointed to my head and said, “I’m deaf“, just to inform him he was going to have to use Chloe should he need me. I stomped into the QUIET ROOM (so named in order to remind the entire family that no electronics, music, or noise are allowed in this safe and quiet “haven”) and eased myself into a chair to fume.

I’m proud to say that my pity party was at least short-lived. I don’t like falling, but falling is just as much a part of my life as hearing loss is. I deal with it, because it is mine to deal with!

2009 wasn’t easy, but I survived. Can you “look back” and say the same? Is there at least some measurable growth in the way you respond to life and it’s challenges? As I “look back”, there are plenty of times I can say, “Heck! I should have done better!” Even those “times” are growth… for I recognize my mistakes and willingness to do better. The book of Haggai is short, yet contains the word “consider” five times. One can easily substitute the word “reflect” and the meaning is not changed at all.

Let us all consider our ways, and let us reflect. By doing so we can enter 2010 with a determination and resolve that is much stronger than a resolution. My earnest prayer?

Lord? Help me DEAL WITH IT!

Denise Portis

© 2009 Hearing Loss Journal

P.S. “Hearing Elmo” is looking for guest writers for 2010. If you have a connection to hearing loss, Meniere’s disease, or assistance dogs, and would like to write a “guest article”, please email me at denise.portis@gmail.com and type “Hearing Elmo” in the subject line. “Hearing Elmo” is looking for people with different perspectives and even like-minded individuals to encourage others through their own experiences. Happy New Year!

2 thoughts on “Looking Back

  1. Denise,

    Once again, you write a blog post that is so insightful
    and thoughtful for all individuals, not just those with
    a hearing loss. Thank you for giving me some other ways
    to look at things in my own life by providing some
    insight to yours.

    Happy New Year to you and your family!

    Jane Harford

  2. As you well know, 2009 has been a challenging year for the Adams, too. I’d like to say that I have grown spiritually from the experiences, but I’m not sure that would be honest. Perhaps I need to spend some quality time reflecting/considering and take a hard look at myself. Thanks for the reminder.

    Happy New Year, dear one.

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