Recap – October 13 Rap Session
By Heather Lehr
This is what I learned at the recent HLAA-Los Angeles rap session: you are all a bunch of badasses.
But let me start from the beginning.
First of all, we met at Georgia’s gorgeous flat with a shining chandelier and deep Queen Anne wingback chairs. Delightful! Then Puay, of course, brought her addictive dark chocolate almond biscotti and Wendy shared her knock-you-over potato salad. It left me wondering why we call it a rap session instead of a bust-your-diet session.
Finally, after much schmoozing and gorging, we started to talk about all the hard stuff. You know, about how our hearing loss is just so exhausting. How hard we all need to work to be included at our jobs and at home. And how sometimes that makes us not even want to go out and socialize because of how horrible it is to feel alone in a crowd of people. And that it’s okay to say that our situation sucks sometimes and to give ourselves a break from having to appear positive to everyone else.
We griped (just a little bit) about being “stuck in the middle.” You know, we are neither deaf nor hearing, just in this nebulous, invisible middle ground that means we have to constantly self-advocate.
And we supported each other as we talked about how sad we feel when people think we are being aloof, or ignoring them, when really, we just can’t hear what’s going on. That feeling of exclusion runs deep (deep, deep, deep) within all of us.
So all of that seems like a giant downer, right? But it wasn’t. Which brings me to the badass part.
We congratulated each other about how we have been able to take charge of our hearing loss and help ourselves. There was Michael, who learned sign language and taught it to his family and the gang at his work. There was Florence, who talked about how she is glad that her hearing loss has kept her out of office politics (lol!). And we all shared our work-arounds to our everyday frustrations.
Finally, Chloe said, “Give yourself credit for finding solutions to your hearing loss.” And we all sat back and realized that given all that we suffer, we at HLAA-LA are pretty amazing. By being positive, embracing technology and reaching out to each other, we are all finding our best selves despite a debilitating disability. I left feeling proud of each and every person at that meeting.
Hope you all can make the next one.