FruitApeel

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I'm putting this out there in the hopes of finding others like myself.

I am a case of where I was not found to be profoundly deaf until I was seven and a half and started deaf school a few months later. I was already past eight and a half when I could talk in complete sentences enough to understand the world around me. I learned how to read a clock and a calendar past nine.

I didn't know about Jesus until I was eight and a half. I could not believe my ears when I heard about him. I was like, "WHAT?? But this is a grown woman who's smarter than me helping me with my homework. Did I just hear her say something nonsensical?" It felt exactly like a riddle. Was she testing me to see how free, how wild I was? Actually no, because she believed it herself. It was at that point that I realized that other people did not live like I did. Inside, up here.

Up to the time I was found to be deaf, I lived in a world of silence. No, make that a world with no language. I knew a few words here and there, for things like bathroom, various food items, but I couldn't communicate like other kids my age. I can remember lip-reading Dad at 3 years old, as I stood in front of the opened fridge sometime past midnight when we were supposed to be asleep. He was kneeling beside me and said, "What do you want?" I couldn't say it, but I could feel the desire and the taste for what I was hungry for. I can remember being small enough that the level of the crisper drawers were about mid-chest height. I must have reached for or pointed at what I was looking for.

I still very much remember the early years when I didn't know what time was or what day it was. What was expected of me as a child. I went through kindergarten, the first part of first grade, and church without any idea of what was going on around me. I did whatever I wanted, when I wanted. I suppose teachers punished me when I wasn't doing what I was supposed to be doing, but I don't remember it. Either way, I had no idea why I was being punished.

I remember my first childhood sweetheart. I had a hard time understanding her speech, but our feelings were absolutely mutual!  I didn't have much to talk about, but she sure saw something in me!

Going to the school for the deaf was hard, but being mainstreamed into public school was a nightmare, full of anger and resentment at the school system. I just wanted to be outside and play all day long. I couldn't understand why I had to stay after school to work on my basic skills. I used to fight my teachers. My Dad would come to pick me up after school, and I would run to him crying and screaming. Finally, one day, I asked him after school in front of the teacher why I had to stay after school. I don't remember the answer.

My stepmother came along and married my Dad. She says that when she first met me, I was a wild child. I did whatever I wanted, ate whatever I wanted (even cheese enchiladas for breakfast!), but I had to do my homework at some point. We fought for at least 10 years. She struggled with the fact that I didn't have anyone guiding me, even if they tried, in the early years.

I guess what I need to say is, my worldview that I had from childhood is still intact within me. I don't know how to explain it. There are no words to explain it. You just have to be me to understand. To say that I am a part of something spiritual and it a part of me is a very poor approximation at the least. I am not a feral child, for sure, or I wouldn't be able write what I write, but for sure, I can clearly remember the times before I was found to be deaf. I feel like the part of me that is independent, wild is much larger than it is in the average civilized child, and that can create problems in modern civilization, where I find too many boundaries and feel like I need to escape the big city I live in and be away from people for as long as I need to be. I'm just now coming to understand much more clearly how my early childhood has affected me through to today.

I'm not happy, because I don't know other people like me who went so long without intervention and have a much larger degree of personal freedom as a result of growing past a little too long without sufficient social restraint. Are there others like me? Are there others who can come up to me and not have to say anything in speech or sign, but simply smile or do something fun? To not have to say, "Oh, you must be a Christian, Muslim, straight, have this kind of a job, have this much education, etc." To function as humans did 20,000 years ago? That is me. I feel out of place. I feel like I don't belong here in this modern life.

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Comment by Iris on March 18, 2012 at 4:19am

Your story makes me think of the book I just read: Ismael (Daniel Quinn). Wishing you the best!

Comment by MeraFeatherstory on February 25, 2012 at 8:58pm

Thanks so much for sharing your story.  I think you are very fortunate to have had the experiences and worldview you have, even if it makes it difficult to adjust the modern world. 

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