Hard of hearing

Self-esteem as a learning process


The attached article appeared in German in “Spektrum Hören”, a magazine for which I write a colunm every two months.

Hearing impairment is only one aspect of the personality. However, it is not easy to stand by this with self-confidence. How the highly hearing-impaired blogger Renee Iseli -Smits managed to accept herself is described in this article.

Grüezi Dear readers! When someone becomes hearing impaired, it is usually hard to accept. The consequences in everyday life and for the social contacts are far-reaching, for those affected and their environment. Misunderstandings and shame are often part of our everyday life and unfortunately often influence our self-confidence.
Rather, we are perceived by ourselves and others through our hearing impairment, although that is only part of our being. Yes, we have a hearing impairment, but should not be reduced to it. We are also human, with everything in between.

When I got hearing impaired myself, I was still in my teens and very vulnerable. My hearing aid at the time was necessary, but I had difficulty accepting it. For example, when I had to hurry to reach a train, I had the feeling that my hearing aid was stopping me. Of course, that was only between the ears, not the hearing aid in my ear!
It wasn’t like I was hiding my hearing impairment or the hearing aids at that time, but I didn’t like talking about it: I just heard a little less, period.

Only after my hearing loss grew severe, I became profoundly hard of hearing and could no longer avoid behind the ear hearing aids, there was no way around but to face it.
For about a year, I wrestled with myself. Unconsciously I had gotten into a mourning process, went through all stages: denial, emotional carousel and farewell. The acceptance came after I found someone who not only listened correctly, but also asked the right questions, put her finger on the sore spots. I found answers to my questions, solutions to my challenges and learned not only to accept my hearing impairment, but also to be hearing impaired.
I became more aware of myself, learned what I needed and sometimes I had to say no to better distribute my available energy.
Writing a diary has helped me a lot to deal more openly with my hearing impairment, thus also the insight that I am not a victim of my hearing impairment.

Every person is different, as well as every hearing impairment. But, for everyone, acceptance starts with ourselves and we are all responsible for how we deal with it, with or without help. Openness helps not only ourselves, but also our environment and contributes to greater understanding among those who hear well.

Best wishes,
Your Renee Iseli – Smits