Being deaf, there are many groups, societies, social groups and so on, that I could be a part of. Yet, I’m not. That’s not to say I haven’t tried different things in the past, nor to say that all these various groups are bad – just, it was never a good fit. For as long as I can remember, I have been in the middle. In between the hearing world and the deaf world, fully fitting in to neither. The reason for this is partly because I was brought up orally (and I am happy with this), and in the past I have been cast aside by some individuals, simply because I “spoke”. I must say, this is only a very small minority, and the majority of the deaf community can be, and are, lovely. But the fact of it is, I had a handful of negative experiences, and me being me (a shy introvert who can sometimes take a while to come out of her shell…la la la, you know the rest), I retreated and gave up on the idea of being “accepted”.
There were also a handful of incidences last year that shook me as well. In another group, I felt slightly bullied and put down, my views being suppressed and disregarded – where was I suppose to “fit”? It seemed as if there wasn’t anywhere to go, no other group that would be accepting. Fast forward a bit, and we land at now. What’s happening now? There is a group. It’s a marvellous group, at that. In this group, it does not matter if you are deaf, hearing, deafened, hard of hearing, have usher syndrome…no matter how you define yourself and your deafness/hearing loss, you are welcome. Welcome, regardless. And I can’t even begin to tell you how much it means, not just to me, but to many others. To have a place, where you can be yourself, support one another, no judgement, but rather, lifting one another up, helping each other to find our wings; words will never be enough to express how happy I am to have found this.
In terms of my deaf identity, I have been rather confused for a while. Whilst I have had periods of time where I’ve felt strong in who I am, and my deafness, there have been other periods of time where I just get confused and have mixed-emotions. It’s like a minefield at times. I love English, but I love British Sign Language too. I love the spoken language, but I find it a relief when I can use my hands and expressions. I love music, but I suspect I could feel music more if it is BSL interpreted. I love being anonymous, and just going into London on my own; but I also love being taken in by the warm embrace of an accepting group, and causing chaos together on the tube. So many contradictions. But this is okay, because this is what life is like; life isn’t black and white. It just means that I have never quite been able to describe myself properly as a deaf person; sure, I will tell someone I am deaf, but if we start to delve into deaf issues, and how I feel about deaf issues that affect me…well, what is the answer there? Do I tell it from the point of view of Sarah-who-speaks or Sarah-who-signs? They are very different things, yet they inhabit the same person. I have many different experiences; on one hand, I love that I can try and communicate with a wide variety of hearing people, on the other hand, when I use BSL, I access a conversation on a much deeper, clearer level.
The whole deaf identity thing is an ongoing thing. It will still probably take a long time before I will confidently be able to define it. I am more sure of myself, and I understand myself a lot more, but I am still learning about how my deafness fits into all of this. It is a part of me, it has made me who I am today, but I’m still on a long journey. But now? Now it is a journey in which I already feel accepted; I feel accepted by a whole host of people. Life is good. It presents people to us, just at the right time. And if you want to find out more about this group? Go ahead; we are mad, but we are lovely.
What makes you feel accepted?
Happy Thursday, y’all, have a good one. ♥