Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What have I learned?

After a trying day of teaching 5th graders how to figure the area of a triangle, a square, and a rectangle, I'm exhausted! No matter how many ways I explained it, or how many examples, or even how many days I went over it. They still had this puzzled look on their faces. I have come to a realization that it is not my teaching it is that they automatically see it as hard, so they shut me out. It is just like life. If you leave the door open, more can come in. If only a crawl space is open then not much can even make it in. We limit ourselves by not listening, seeing, or reaching out into the world. We are not the keepers of knowledge, in order to teach we must be willing to learn. Now what have I learned.

I have learned so much in this journey. Wow I can't believe that 7 months have past since my surgery. My surgery is not only important to my choices for cochlear implants, it is also the time I decided to reach out to the Deaf Community. I needed to talk to other CI users and deaf people. I wanted to learn as much as I could about what it is like to be deaf. Even though I have been deaf for 36 years, I felt I did not know how to be deaf. So here is what I have learned not only about the Deaf Community, but my family.

*Once you identify yourself as deaf, you no longer see yourself as hard of hearing or hearing impaired. It took 36 years to view myself this way. It really is a very easy to see myself as deaf. I'm at peace with it.

*I am a hell of a lot stronger than I thought I was. Not only has my whole life changed in terms of hearing, but who I allow inside my life has changed. I found true friends. Ones who accept me. I also found a group of fantastic people online. They know my thoughts, they answer my questions, and most importantly they understand what it is like to go through what I am going through. My nightly chats with Abbie are the highlights of my day. I sometimes think we are twin because we think alike. Just wish I had the words she has.

*Families accept you. My whole life I thought I had to be better, be smarter, be wiser, be funnier. Little did I know that my family has always accepted my deafness. They accepted me with or without implants. Mom and dad love me for me. And as aways mom always knows best.

*Families part II. My husband and daughter also accept me. My daughter's favorite comment is daddy loves you for who you are not if you can hear or not. You know what even 9 years old get it right.

*Work, school, and my career are not just jobs. I found I love teaching again. I really can focus on teaching without worrying about hearing. I found I miss the interaction with students and can't wait to get to school each day. (most of the time, right now I n-e-e-d spring break only 2 days).

*Most importantly what I have learned is there are good, bad, and ugly in all groups of people. We make a choice to accept who we want into our homes, who we want to be friends with, and who we spend our time with. What I have learned it sometimes we can't keep out the bad and the ugly. We have to face it. What makes it a learning experience is how we handle it. Do we learn from it and grow, do we attack it and cause more damage, or do we allow it to hurt us? I chose to learn from it. We learn as much from a bad experience as we do a positive experience. The choice is yours and I quote our school news show. This is Val make it a good day, or not, the choice is yours.


Abbie said...

You have brought up some amazing points! No matter how hard you sit there and tell someone until you are blue in the face something and they simply will not get it. Its a shame but this is the way the world works at large. Life is a four lane highway, not everyone has the same destination or is even the same lane.

You are one of the highlights of my night as well. The dedication that I see put forth with your daughter and your hearing amazes me! It is one of the greatest feelings to have someone just "get it" when I "well ya know when you do that thing when you got to..."

I have always thought that I had do something better, bigger, quicker to prove myself. Now I realize that I have nothing to prove, I'm out here to have life prove me. That is the same with you. When you come across people that accept you as you are, no whistles, no bows, just you. I've glad that I have gotten to know the "just you" version :)

I chose to learn and listen. You just might never know what people have to offer or share. Love you dearie :)

Tiffani said...

Great post! And a great reminder that there's a lesson in most of life's icky situations.

Good luck on getting those kids to learn that math. :-)

kw said...

Wow! You said a lot in this post, and gave me lots to think about. Sometimes our self-esteem suffers when we lose our hearing. We can't help it when we feel cut off from people as the communication becomes to difficult. I'm glad you've realized how much you're loved. My family has not always known how to deal with my deafness, and I have felt unloved in the past too, but have come to realize I was wrong that.


Tales from the CI Gal said...

Some of my best posting come after the two of us chat about events. You always give me things to think about. Not only that, but you "get it."

Thanks Tiffani - KW - families surprise us. My mom called the other night and said bring my ASL book home during Spring Break. I asked why. She stated they all wanted me to teach them, so they can communicate with me when I am not wearing my CIs and my neice and nephew want to take a class. WOW!

Anonymous said...

Yes that is nice they bring the ASL book so it does help better communication each other. I know if you do not wear CI and it still being deaf rest of your life. I glad they have a heart to read ASL book. That is very very nice. It only way to learn you teach them also it can do both way as that way you will not miss out. Iam happy for you Val.


Jodi Cutler Del Dottore said...

It is a good feeling to be accepted and an even better feeling to accept yourself for who you are...and "exceptional" person. Hugs, Jodi

Jodi Cutler Del Dottore said...

It is a good feeling to be accepted and an even better feeling to accept yourself for who you are...an "exceptional" person. Hugs, Jodi

Anonymous said...


Life is certainly a learning experience, each of us learning what we are willing to. Ultimately, you have to have peace with yourself. I do not beleive that we humans vary that much in defintion of peace. I do beleive that we do not all welcome it in, nor wish to travel its' path.

Thanks for your effort and time that you spend in sharing Valerie, I do so enjoy reading you blog.


JUSTAMYD said...

DON'T HAVE A HEART ATTACK! I FIGURED OUT HOW TO BE A PART OF YOUR BLOG & YOUR CELEBRATION OF LIFE WITH YOUR GIFT OF HEARING. I have known this girl for 25 years. We are childhood best friends. We shared so much together. I have seen her in so many situation. She has always put her best in anything she does. I am proud of her & so glad she has a great support in her life. GREAT LUCK & ENJOY THE SPRING TIME WITH ALL THE GREAT SOUNDS YOU WILL LEARN AGAIN. LOVE YOUR BFF JUSTAMYD

Tales from the CI Gal said...

To all of you thank you so much.

You are the type of friend that anyone is so fortunate to have. I love you and you are my best friend. I have treasure everything we have ever shared and look forward to the rest of our life of fun. love ya, and hope I don't cry.