Not so pink-y or fairy-tale at all. This relationship is a real psycho-emotional rollercoaster. I don’t mean the question of hearing and communication, but generally a separate culture, language and habits that have been established over the years and have been brought up from the centuries of adolescence.
Can you imagine how a hearing guy can consistently demolish the intricately woven armoured cocoon from which Aneta neither dreamed of leaving? She had no such intention at all in this life.
Well, she finally did. She didn’t do it for him because she loves him. Did she do something for someone? These are appearances. You do everything for yourself. The other man is your mirror, a cruel mirror. And if you want to see yourself in that mirror, without makeup, without artificially raised corners of your mouth, and if you’re going to accept yourself and love, you have to stand face to face with deeply hidden fears that you won’t admit and that you forgot many ages ago.
But the mirror sees everything. And it tells you everything. And even if you break it and hurt yourself cruelly, there will still be shards of smaller mirrors, and you will again see yourself in them.
All the time.
Your partner is the man you eat with, you hold hands, you moan to his sleeve, and no matter how bad you or he is, you sleep together night after night. This is a man who knows you very well, sometimes even better than you do. What’s there to hide from him? From HIM?
My Mr. M. knew me from the beginning, and he knew which corner of the carpet in my cocoon to pick up and scrub to the glance.
I don’t hear from early childhood; I’ve been lying in group communications, including family ones. I developed certain habits that allowed me to survive the holidays, family gatherings, meetings – putting together puzzles, reading books, watching TV with subtitles, talking to family members with each other, generally sitting and daydreaming. With every age I got used to it, I was told „because it’s a family and you have to have respect„, „because it falls out„, „because you have to show yourself„. The sense of duty took root firmly in my heart, so much so that I took it for granted, and it didn’t occur to me to refuse. Emigrating to England saved my ass, I felt relieved of this „duty”.
I was a classic Family Dog (hungry for attention and understanding).
Fortunately, I didn’t have this problem in the social field – I was meeting with friends similar to me; we were connected by the same culture, sign language and joint issues.
I had a deaf husband in the past, the communication was excellent, but he was more focused on his company of the hearing people, in which I could not find myself. He blamed me for that.
Being alone for a long time, I had no idea what kind of partner I wanted to have – a hearing impaired, with some small hearing loss, or a deaf man with sign language. I was and I am bicultural, balancing between two worlds, and I can’t find myself in any of them – for the hearing people, I’m deaf, speechless and stupid, and for the deaf, I’m also good at talking, too smart and better at the hearing.
For years I’ve been meeting with hearing men. Still, I felt subcutaneous that they wouldn’t be able to cope with me, that they are too „weak”, that they prefer to have kind of comfortable ladies, uncomplicated in communication and company, without the mental and health problems. It ruins the self-acceptance and self-confidence of people who are not hearing – they feel worse, more miserable and more stupid. It’s just a defensive reflex, caution; you don’t let it go like that overnight. It passes with time, naturally, after experiencing many shared experiences and moments. It’s all right.
And then hearing and stubborn Mr. M has appeared in my life. And the ride started.
Our beginnings were not a phase of infatuation, butterflies in the belly and „lovers don’t count time”. There was a lot of pain, tears and resignation. But there was also a lot of letting go, patience, understanding and empathy. There was a lot
„I’m with you no matter what, I’ll adapt.”
First words, then deeds and actions, went evenly on both sides. We quickly found out that we have a common language of love; it brings us closer and holds us tight. There were a lot of misunderstandings, misunderstandings, misunderstandings and bilingualism. Some of them I experienced strongly, especially those on which our physical safety depended. But there was also a lot of laughter about it, such a „flowers” (they look similar on the mouth, they even sound identical in my hearing aid).
We met each other’s families. I had „a bit” of problems with his family, as situations from the family home came back – sitting quietly, pretending to know what’s going on, watching TV, trying to focus on topics at the table (no effect). I thought it was okay that we had it agreed that we made a compromise.
You know, we live in England, we have friends in Poland, here are friends like „to kill boredom„. That’s why the aspect of going out together wasn’t quick to come. We went to a barbecue for Mr. M’s friends. I was frozen inside, I knew what could be waiting for me, but you always have to give a chance, you never know who you’ll meet, and it can be fun. I didn’t know anybody, all of them, the simple ones, such classic immigrants in England, knew each other for a long time. After half an hour I knew that I couldn’t find a common language with anyone, what was worse, I couldn’t understand anyone from the lips. Mr. M. sometimes explained to me by writing on the phone. I wanted to go home after half an hour, but I stayed because of Mr. M. For the next few hours I sat stuck to a chair and „read” the company – the names and birthdays of the children on tattoos, mutual relations, whatever can be done in „silence”. It’s as if you were one of the Japanese or German-speaking people – you hear, but you don’t understand what they’re talking about. I was even ashamed of my speech. Like for salvation, I waited for an hour when I had to come back. I said goodbye with stone in my throat and quickly ran to the car with tears in my eyes, stopping M. from seeing me crying. He was in shock, and he didn’t understand completely what I meant and why I went home without saying a word, he had no idea what kind of storm was going on for the last hours, it wasn’t visible from me (years of practice) The next few days in our relationship were „cold”. I was lying on the sofa, staring at the ceiling, talking to M, to a friend, analysing the situation and looking for the reason.
Finally, it turned out that I unconsciously transferred the Family Dog to social relationships. I moved the „sense of duty” to my partner.
The cocoon that I had been building for 30 years suddenly broke. And you can’t get weaned off the habits that have been your apparent self-esteem for several decades. This weaning requires time, more experience and trust on a new level.
M kept explaining to me until it reached me.
„You’re not alone. You have a choice with me.”
A partner is not the family you grew up with. You can tell him anything. I can say to him that I want to run away, that I don’t like it, that I don’t understand, that I’m bored. Mr. M. doesn’t care about respect and „because it falls out„, he doesn’t want me to do something against myself, especially for him, to go somewhere because of him. He will explain in front of his company the reason for my absence. These are grown-ups, they will judge, they will talk and close the subject. Mr. M. won’t lose me, just because he has a deaf girlfriend who he won’t go anywhere with. Because he doesn’t need to go out or be at parties. You need to be respectful and polite to not all. You don’t spend your daily life with them, and you don’t confess from the day lying in a shared bed in the evening.
At the barbecue, it never occurred to me that I had a choice. I didn’t have an opportunity in my family, so how was I supposed to know I had a choice with Mr. M?
We’ve agreed that socialising is so rare that I can let go of his friends. If Mrs M. wants to go, I’ll let him go and I won’t forbid him.
Because I know exactly what it looks like on the other side of me.
The environment of the deaf is specific; it has its language, with which particular behaviours during conversations, including group ones, are closely related. And the people who hear them will not understand. M does not know sign language (he only knows a few gestures); he will not learn; there is no need; we know ourselves perfectly. In England, I have some usual friends, but we live far away from each other, we do not meet as often as the deaf people in Poland do. M has not yet confronted himself in the opposite situation. And even if it were such an option, I would not take him to my meetings, and I know how bored he would be and how he would feel left out. Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be, perhaps we are introvert and live far away from „our own”?
Maybe we just have each other to ourselves?
Some people in such „hearing-deaf” relationships learn sign language. Some manage without it by reading from each other’s lips, and some of them have friends in common. These buddies, some of these friends verify against a deaf person. Some put ultimatum that „either she or friends„. Some people care more about shining their eyes in front of their family and end up with a hard of hearing person. Some can’t stand it simply, and they have other needs that a deaf partner can’t stand.
On the other hand, you have to work as well – a person with a hearing loss must have colossal trust in a hearing partner – phone calls with a potential lover, mother-in-law, your children, table discussions about you. After all, you can’t hear, „you’re not there„, no one asks for your opinion or consent. Such a person omits many things every day, and they both have to be aware of communication barriers.
„Talk to me.”
There are many types of people with hearing loss, not all of them know and speak sign language – they do not have to belong to any of these worlds, they are not bicultural. Their oral way of communicating does not make them excluded from any of these environments at all, because they still have the classic problems for Family Dog; they still have issues with confidence and trust. It is common to all of us, regardless of our hearing and style of communication, or culture. You mustn’t generalise, you mustn’t throw in SL (Sign Language) or DC (Deaf Culture) boxes, because that really doesn’t matter. Love does not look at such things, not this patient, understanding and accepting one. Right, there will always be differences between hard of hearing people and their hearing partners, it’s inevitable, but let’s remember – we sleep together, share one roof together, talk together, no matter what.
It should also be mentioned (my friend added after reading this text) that in such relationships it happens very often that it is the hearer who is the „top” in the relationship because he is better, smarter, faster. He hears everything, and he hears everything quicker and maybe more and knows more. A deaf, humble calf (because Family Dog has taken it out of the family home) is at the mercy of a hearing partner, trusts him infinitely, gives himself away to him because „he loves me, he wants to be with me„, treating him as an idol, your family. This is sad, but it does not result from our fault, but from the pure ignorance, unawareness that we have a choice.
Another friend mentioned the great difficulty in finding a valuable hearing person. Years go by, and there are many people with hearing loss in their 30s who, for lack of hope, declare themselves as hardened singles. And they say that I am fortunate to have found such an M – forgiving, patient, empathetic and quickly adapting to my hearing loss. I admit it is not easy, but it is possible! You can’t lose hope, and you have to look for, give up, try other relationships, with different people – hearing impaired, whether in wheelchairs, blind or from another country, no different. Everywhere – I was playing match.com, in Tinder, in PolishHearts, I was getting to know a lot of hearing guys, and through events in our environment – men with hearing impairment to different degrees. It’s harder, yes, but you have to be lucky to help, and if you find yourself in a relationship, to fight for a relationship, to work, to work, to work, to talk and to be careful. Because the older you get, the less risk you run of winning a false romance.
In 80% of mature relationships, there is a conscious choice to be together, not „love will explain everything„.
In sex, how? He can hear me, and I can feel his body vibrates. He knows that this is how I „read” his excitement. Lighted lamp or darkness in the room doesn’t matter, and there are no problems in sexual communication, the bodies themselves know what to do. The most important thing is to talk about it also outside the bed. Because sex is also a heavy burden and is a perfect reflection of our everyday problems. The more trust I have in M and the more open I am in our relationship, the better our sex is. Men in bed love each other with their bodies, women with their heads, so it is crucial that in the sexual field, your partner feels that you are in good hands with your traumas and fears. Elements of sign language can make your personal, sexual „language” very different, and it works quite erotic both ways.
But in any situation, you wouldn’t be, and I don’t mean just an auditory disability, but also another kind of disability, it’s always worth talking about. Of course, not everything comes out right away, with many hidden fears, traumas and fears you may just not be aware of. They are brutally exposed to certain people, situations and experiences, at the right time. When your partner has an idea of your „downsides”, he will react in time, he will not allow situations that you do not like, hate or suffer. He will know perfectly well when you do something against yourself, when you cheat on others and how perfectly you do it.
Because how do you feel when you cheat in cold blood on someone you love? Who are you really cheating? You get looped in, sitting in your safe cocoon of „sense of duty”, you don’t let yourself have a choice, freeing yourself from the past. Each of us is somebody else’s mirror. Each of our partners is an even more personal mirror for us, it’s worth to analyse your relationship, yourself, your behaviour, listen to each other, try to understand, make compromises and most of all – open up, let go, give a million chances. It takes a few months, some of them a few years, there is no rule, in terms of prudence we are all the same without exception, without any division into some languages and cultures.