Your comments: Readers respond to Rebekah Rose-Mundy’s article on being left out in her hearing family

Posted on January 25, 2016

Rebekah Rose-Mundy’s article about being left out in her hearing family because they don’t sign has struck a chord with many our readers, with over  9000 people reading the article so far.

Rebekah described dreading Christmas, and what it was like being with her family but unable to communicate with them. Here’s an extract:

The hours dragged on so slowly and it was becoming harder to bear another minute.

I hated those ‘small talks’. “Hello how are you? what are you doing now? it’s been so long”… I struggled to lipread with my one hearing aid as I needed to ‘hear’ the voice to lipread. I cannot lipread without sounds. There were too many noises in the house, too many people and too distracting…

Then there is that awkward silence… a smile and the conversation is finished. Or someone interrupting by calling out. Or I am told “Excuse me, sorry”. I am relieved yet I feel so stupid standing there not knowing what to do next.

I looked at my large hearing family with all these cousins and felt sad because I don’t know them. I don’t have a relationship with them. I am not considered important enough to them. A tear rolled down my face but I quickly wiped it away and made myself look amused.

Clearly, Rebekah isn’t alone, because our readers’ comments reflected the same experiences.

Rosie Malezer said:

Being the only Deafie in my family, it is very isolating indeed when none of your other family members takes the time to learn to sign and communicate with you. You ask yourself why…. “Am I not worth it?” or “Am I less of a family member because they see me as broken?” It hurts a lot.

Christine Reid, a hearing mother of a deaf child, explained how she tries to prevent the situation happening:

Thank you for sharing this heart wrenching truth. I am a hearing mom who has been working daily to make sure this doesn’t happen for her Deaf child. This is my biggest fear, that my daughter should ever feel this way. Please know that your story motivates me, and that there are many hearing parents who are learning from the mistakes of the hearing parents before us.

Diana’s comment showed how she’d coped with finding herself in the same situation:

Becky explains the feelings so well which many deaf people feel every Christmas Day, special family gatherings etc.I grew up with a deaf family, first language being Auslan.

I married hearing, have hearing children. Now divorced I still have communication difficulties with these kind of settings. No wonder I am starting to hate Christmas. I say to myself ‘I can write well, I can speak reasonably well, I can make myself understood, I can control my students when I teach Auslan” but……still feel the lack anyway.

Last Christmas before last, I was far away in another state spending time with one of my sons and his 2 children. They, after opening their presents suggested we go to the beach, fine I said… At the beach I was dismayed to see all their friends and families together, having a swim, having a beer, having a yarn.

I tried my best to chat with a couple and finally I could not stop this feeling of ‘have had enough’ so I walked away and one fellow did come and talk to me and I explained to him, how difficult it was for me to ‘fit in’ explaining that it was ok with one on one conversation but with 2 or 3 people, I was lost.

I said ‘It’s not your fault, it’s not my fault, that’s the way it is’ so for the rest of the afternoon, whilst everyone swam, played cricket, doing kayaking, having a good time, I sat on my own under a tree.

When my son came out of the sea with the kids, we went home. I finally told him and his lovely wife, if there is a gathering like this, please let me know so I can choose whether to stay in or go with you.

He apologised but we were ok and in the evening they asked if i wanted to go with them to a BBQ, I felt free to say NO.. it’s better staying home and watching TV with captions than being ‘ignored, feeling stupid, feeling resentful etc’ As I said before, that’s the way it is…. It’s a hearing world after all…

There was also a positive comment from PennyBSL, which showed show relationships can be repaired later in life:

About sibling relationships…..I have one brother and one sister.

Yes, as you said, I also felt detached from them for most of my childhood and young adult years.

However, long after our parents passed away, I became the first sibling to lose a spouse through cancer. Suddenly, our sibling relationship improved tremendously, all around.

We are catching up, step by step, more use of real news face to face, also via emailing, texting and written mail.

Rebekah, please don’t give up yet on your siblings. They may be overawed and influenced by your parents at the moment.

The ‘Better late than never’ saying is true.

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