*Scroll down to the bottom of this post to watch the ASL interpretation of this story.
In grade 3, I was happy to be invited to a popular girl's birthday party. My happiness deflated after everyone looked disgusted I had given a birthday gift that wasn’t up to their standards. I sat alone during the party. From that day and on, the kids in school called me names: deaf girl, stupid, crazy, dumb.
Towards the end of Grade eight, I almost committed suicide. I felt angry, hurt, sad, alone and didn't want to move forward. I started stealing and eventually got caught. I remember standing in the hallway at school, looking up at a tall policeman who was lecturing me, trying to read his lips. I just listened to babble of his words, not knowing what he was saying.
At home I felt unwanted and unloved. If I got in trouble my mom took away my hearing-aids and put them on top of the fridge. This made me believe that not being able to hear was a punishment. Things didn't go well with my mother and I spent a lot of time in various foster homes.
In grade eight, I discovered dance while I was living in a foster home with foster-siblings who also took dance lessons. While I couldn’t hear much of the music, I was able to feel the low bass tones and this was how my body learned to move to the rhythm. Many nights, I practiced my dance moves in my tiny room, telling myself I should be better. Even though a number of awards were won, I never truly believed I was good enough. I wonder if my counts were off due to not hearing the music.
Even at dance where I shared a common interest with the other girls, I didn’t fit in or make friends. I couldn’t hear what they were saying and was unable to participate. I was in counselling all throughout high school, but it didn’t help with my depression, but I continued to dance throughout high school, as it was something to look forward to.
One moment stands out to me. I was dancing and did a fast split down into a pose. People cheered and a few people who were popular in school told me, "Great dance!" That was a new experience for me, and one of the rare moments where I felt included.
When I dance, I'm in a dream world where I have the freedom to let go. My spirit feels free and nothing else matters. It’s an escape, an adrenaline rush. It’s peaceful to be in a moment where all my worries and pain dissolves. That’s the power of dance.
I’m now in my early 30s. Recently, I fell off a horse and hit my head, which caused me to lose the rest of my hearing in one ear. Because of the extra hearing-loss, I am unable to hear what’s being said in most situations. I’m waiting for a cochlear implant to ease the communication difficulties I have. Because of my own upbringing, it’s very important to me that I’m fully there for my kids. It’s important that I’m able to hear them speak to me and communicate with them so they know they are heard, loved and recognized.
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