At 17-years-old, I went deaf in one ear and had to relearn how to do a lot, had to alter certain aspects of my life and, still have to humble myself at times to ask others for help if I need it. Any woman--or person for that matter--who has suffered a sudden injury or disability knows what this is like and how hard it is, so I share my story for us all. Because of this, I have had to change a lot in my life from little things like always making sure I am standing in a spot to where I can hear everyone to bigger things like wearing hearing aids and working with the disability resource center at my school. I have also been a worship leader for the past five years, so taking a break from that while learning to sing and play instruments with one ear was a big adjustment. The hardest part of this experience has been fighting my grief over my ear. While this was not the death of a person, it was a death of something I value very much and I absolutely grieved over it. Seeing myself, a typically happy person, fighting to find joy in things took big toll on me and my family who had to watch as I changed in the process of finding my happiness again.
Honestly, I do not think I had much to do with overcoming this challenge. I credit my victory over this hardship and who I am today today to God in the fullest. Had it not been for prayers from those around me and God’s hold on my heart, I am not so sure that I would be the woman I am now. Aside from my family, friends and every prayer, my youth pastor, Charles Rigby, and best friend, Olivia, helped support me through all of this. When I did not want to spend time with God or get up and worship or play an instrument, they were there to push me and make sure I did it anyways because they knew that would be my means of being put back together--worship. One night, they told me I had no choice but to get up and sing and that night I stopped crying and found joy again.
When talking about social media, it seems to be the place where people display their best selves. It’s one thing for strangers and acquaintances to see a smiling picture of you at Lake Tahoe, but it’s terrifying to show people your sorrow. It may be even more terrifying to show the people closest to you your sorrow because then they might see you differently. If I had shared my story on social media, I can imagine that it would have looked like a rollercoaster with many ups and many downs. I think the overall effect would be positive and I would have gotten a lot of support because I have a lot of people in my life who love me. On the other hand, I think I might have also gotten a lot of pity and that is not something I ever want.
If I were to talk to somebody going through the same experience as me, I would tell them to lean on the people who love you. Humble yourself. You will get through it. You will be able to socialize without wanting to cry. You’ll learn to read lips. You’ll learn to hold the phone up to the other ear. You’ll figure out where to sit. You’ll sing again. Yes, things will change. Yes, you will be a different person when all is said and done. Yep, there will still be bad days sometimes. You’ll be better for this. Smarter. Stronger. More courageous. More compassionate. More you than you ever thought possible. You’ve got this.