One of the great charms of being deaf is not being able to hear one’s own voice. A deaf person can form words and say them, or think she’s said them, but is never quite sure that the words she’s formed have a voice.
It is a very peculiar experience.
Now, I am not totally deaf, but I am pretty close. I have a slight amount of hearing ability in one ear. Very slight. Enough for me to hear the smoke alarms in the house and the water raining down on my head in the shower. I cannot hear doors opening and closing, footsteps coming up the stairs behind me, cars speeding down the street, or most dogs barking. I cannot hear people talking to me unless they are screaming. I would never hear someone breaking into my house.
This is very scary if you think about it.
I have the best in hearing devices – a very expensive hearing aid in the slightly functional ear and a fairly new cochlear implant/receiver replacing my other, dead ear. But I don’t wear them all the time. It’s difficult to sleep with them on. I know, I’ve tried. If my husband is out of town, I start out the night’s sleep by wearing them but soon take them off. And then there’s the total silence.
I am at home there, in total silence, having spent many years living in my own head before my cochlear implant. This is a sensation impossible to explain to hearing people. The gist of it is that the world is too indecipherable to manage so one takes up permanent residence in one’s own safe, internal place, using a variety of ploys to fake hearing. This becomes easier to do the further one is from anything that matters, and the more invisible one becomes. People go on without you. And it doesn’t take very long to happen.
I don’t live in my head anymore, but I haven’t forgotten how. It’s comfortable in there, cozy even, undemanding, a cocoon. Until someone comes up the stairs behind me or I want to be visible, a person in the world.