Saturday, June 25, 2011

What it’s like



No one speaks the language.

Every third word sounds close enough to English that you pantomime the rest.

Or you nod your head and pretend you understand.


Kind people try again and again – smiling in encouragement as you stumble through a conversation.

Small talk becomes too much work.


You’re the novelty in the room.

The foreign-exchange student.

Either everyone has a question for you, or they are as uncomfortable as you.

You go nowhere without being observed with interest – you’re automatically special.



Things don’t work for you.


The school bell rings and other kids pour onto the playground.

The news is complete gibberish, despite the frightening images.

The checker grabs a plastic bag impatiently after mumbling three times.

The phone chirps happily with fourteen voicemails – all in the native language.

The fire alarm blares overhead as you continue your dinner at a birthday celebration.

The other passengers leave after a PA announcement – you are left at a deserted gate.

Your sister/mother/husband are always apologizing to the person repeating “excuse me” behind you in the store aisle.


“Sorry, she can’t hear you.  She’s deaf”.




Anonymous said...

Ahhh... what an amazing comparison. You've actually given me a totally different viewpoint of the foreign exchange students that walk the halls of my son's school. How confusing things must be for them sometimes. But they, like you, press on, moving ahead in spite of the clueless people around them. You get so much out of life, Rachel... it's beautiful to behold....

Anonymous said...

Oh Rachel... We love you!! That's all I know to say

RaD said...

Your talent with words on a screen is amazing. It took me a while to figure out you had hearing problems, everything just flows so well here. I know it can be frustrating (okay, so I don't really know), but you are not defined by your deafness, you are defined by a Great God, who says you are wonderful, beautiful, perfect in every way.

I wish I knew you in person, I'd give you a big hug today!

Discovery School at First Baptist Heath said...

beautifully written...and a great insight for the hearing...

Tina said...

Such a beautiful post. Very well written. I did not know you are deaf, but after reading some of your previous post, I have to say...I admire you. You are a strong woman!

Just Add Walter said...

great post Rachel..thanks for letting us see things through your perspective.

I was in a club in college to learn sign language. At the end of every semester we would go to dinner as a group and have a "silent night" where we could ONLY use sign language. Even though we can hear, it was interesting trying to communicate with waiters, hostesses, etc. with only your hands. Definitely was an eye opener for me and I will never forget that.

Anonymous said...

Didjaknow that some deafies have the highest water bill? Yup, you guessed it... we cannot hear water running/leaking.

What you wrote sounds like my life. And saddest thing is when my kids start talking to each other, I wish I knew what they were talking about.

Nati @ I will praise Him said...

Thank you for sharing. I'm just now reading more and more of your posts and was surprised to read that you are deaf.

I sort of know what it must be like not knowing what others say, I was an exchange student and it took 3 months before I was able to join in on conversations. But what are 3 months compared with a lifetime?

You're truly amazing!

Furry Bottoms said...

And being the last to know about anything going on around you.

And being the victim of hate mail (happened to me at work) because you were deaf, they didn't know you were deaf and thought you were being rude... when actually you just didn't hear what was being said.

And being ultra uncomfortable at company picnics... family reuions... parties...

You know I totally feel you.

Now, we gotta think of the GOOD things about being deaf...

myletterstoemily said...

thank you for helping us try to understand. one
of my best friends, a musician, went 95% deaf,
and it broke her heart . . . until she had a
cochlear implant that was 95% successful!

Floortime Lite Mama said...

I love you darling Rach

robin said...

wow..... *hug*

Pam Bowers said...

Girl, I think you touched a lot of people today. Sending you hugs up North.

Shana Putnam said...

I don't like this. It makes me sad for you and for everyone else that has been through or is still going through this. But the way you wrote it makes it easier for hearing people to understand. I just want to cry though when I think of you not hearing. I think in some ways like I said before it makes you more aware of other things but it just isn't fair. That is why I have started trying to find videos with caption when I post one. I want you to get it. When I posted the video of Blaze and his discovery and you commented asking me what he discovery was I literally cried. Life is hard for everyone and harder for some. There is a reason somewhere although it is hard to fathom. I love you and pray for you guys daily and wish I could give you a HUGE hug right now.

Beth Zimmerman said...

That was an excellent comparison Rachel except ... The exchange student becomes quite fluent in the local language with an ease and rapidity that astounds. And the exchange student goes home, to speakers of his native language, with a new skill, in 6 months to a year. YOU my dear have fought this battle your whole life! And you do so with great grace and beauty!

I love you!

Foursons said...

I'm so glad you explained. Having never actually met you I forget that you are deaf and I have no idea the hardships you endure.

You are an amazing woman inside and out. Love ya girly.

Unknown said...

It's so easy when I read your blog to forget of this...I know we will meet someday, if not here on earth we will in Heaven...and I know you will here me when I say, "I love you Rachel, you've always been one to make me bust a gut!"

Unknown said...

Hear me, you will Hear me I meant to say!

Jody said...

Ouch, I've seen such beauty lately between human kind that it's a harsh reminder of the other side with such cruelty. Good post Rachel!

Amy said...

So often I forget that you are deaf... and I feel kinda bad about that. Only knowing you through bloggy world I guess it is easily overlooked. I cannot pretend that I will ever know "how you feel", but know that we do carry each others burdens. I hate though that I am one of those people who make things hard on you.... I would be on of those people making it awkward and uncomfortable simply because I am a nervous type person.

I just love your writing Rachel! So elegant and honest. You are so talented! If you wrote a book I would totally read it over and over again!

Heather said...

You are so patient and also observant to make that comparison.

Also.......I didn't realize your son looks so much like you. That picture is adorable. Even if you are stickin' an ice pop up your nose!!

Liz {Learning To Juggle} said...

So beautifully written...

not much to say....

so here's a {{{HUG}}}...

sounds like you might need it...

but even if you don't...

I'm giving it to you anyway!!

Unknown said...

Wow. It really is a foreign language sometimes, isnt it?

And the photo of you is just beautiful. You are an amazing lady, dear friend.

Lucy said...

I'm hard of hearing myself and I love reading this like this - it's a relief to know someone else *gets* it. I love your way with words and the comparison you used! Thanks for sharing!

Lisa said...

I, too, often seem to forget what you go through. We have that 'luxary' that you do not. I have only a small small taste of what it is like, i have a slight hearing problem, but it usually only causes problems for others, not myself. I know you are not wanting pity, and that is not what we offer, your friends here. But such respect and honor.

danette said...

Beautifully said, love you.

That's a great picture too, and WOW Itty Bit looks so much like you!! :)

Bethany said...

You are amazing. I hope you know that. I stalked your blog on and off for over two years because you inspire and delight. I love that in this little world of blogging we can be. Just be without thought of size or ability.

Thank you for sharing this. For this tiny glimpse into your world. For helping me be more understanding.

Tamar SB said...

So so so beautifully written! Love your honesty and I can honestly relate. People often don't get it - and I am so good at getting by in life by reading lips and smiling and nodding! You were too cute too!!

Krystyn @ Really, Are You Serious? said...

Wow. I can't even imagine. You explained and described your life all these years in just a few paragraphs in a way that we can all "get it" (because I know those of us that hear will never really get it).

I think this is a reminder to us, too, to show our children that all children are different and to be aware of their differences earlier in life so they don't feel like such an outsider.

stephanie said...

beautifully put, you really have a way with words

Jennie said...

Oh, this made me stop and think! Thank you for sharing! Also, you were an adorable kid :)

GunDiva said...

That was a most excellent comparison.

You're a pretty amazing person - and not just because you're deaf in a hearing world, but because you just ARE. But, then, after having met Momma P, I know you come from a line of amazing people.

Aunt Crazy said...

Reading your blog, I sometimes forget you can't hear. Hell, didn't I once email you with a warning that if we ever meet I'm LOUD...LOL

I can't imagine what you feel like when you get left out but you can be sure that I will never ever leave you out...EVER, and I mean EVAH!

Thanks for sharing your feelings from the depths of your soul.

Emmy said...

Okay first- I love your pigtails in the picture. Now that I got that out of the way- thank you for this- truly opened up things to a new level for me. Thank you

NaomiG said...

Love learning your perspective on this... it's such a great warning to remember how our seemingly inconsequential actions like impatience could really affect someone, because we don't know the whole story, and don't think to kindly find out.


Teachinfourth said...

It must be difficult. I know that sometimes it's difficult for me to understand my friend, Roy, who's deaf, too...

If I just were more fluent in ASL it might be different.

Julie said...


Jess said...

Wow. What an incredible post.

I'm left speechless, which seems a bizarre irony.

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