The physical and emotional memories of the ear infections I got as a kid are now processing themselves. It’s trauma and pain I’ve blocked out for most of my life, partly because those illnesses are a part of childhood, partly because I don’t want to remember what they were like.
But now, as an adult, after suffering through this season’s flu, I’m moving through a healing journey that is bringing up these old memories.
I don’t have a memory of my first ear infection, but I am sure if I did some deep bodywork, it might come up. I remember all the ones that came after, because I knew what was in store for me: Hours and hours of having terrible pain in my ears, loud and relentless sounds of the beating of my heart through my head. The outside world would sound distant and far away. I could hear sounds, but they were so muted. I would feel locked in, alone and scared. It was tough. Each infection lasted days. Mom helped, taking me to the doctor, getting the medications. But the feeling of being shut out from the world, because I couldn’t hear, because I was in pain used to just bring me to a state of almost emotional detachment. It was almost too much to bear each time.
Currently, I am left with a temporary hearing deficit at about 50 percent of what I normally hear following this recent illness. The ear pain wasn’t as great as a before, but the silence that I am hearing is familiar territory.
Only now, with twenty plus years of a spiritual practice, the emotional detachment I am experiencing is actually a relief.
I could choose to grieve this loss or I can embrace it at part of a new experience. I don’t know where it will lead, and I’m not fully recovered from my illness, so this all may resolve in a week’s time. Or not.
I realize how much my senses have enabled me to navigate this reality. Without full hearing, I have more freedom to actually move through the world. I am spending less time having to interpret and figure out sounds, whether conscious or not. There is a lot of noise in this world, I realize, and not being able to hear it all is quite peaceful.
I can hear people speaking to me in person so that I can continue to do my work, to teach, to counsel, to assist. Phone calls are harder. The clarity of the voice is not there as it is in person. Music is harder to tolerate because the note ranges are much flatter, and the familiar songs sound kind of ‘canned’ or ‘tinny’. Live music seems better, the ability to ‘feel’ the sound helps me hear it better.
But I am newly walking in this more quiet world. As I continue on this unexpected journey, I will be curious to see what other observations I witness and experience.
If you’ve had experience with an illness-induced hearing loss or any resources you think would be of assistance, please feel free to share.
Eileen Dey Wurst Copyright 2017