A landscape view of dark mountains against a sunset.

My Disability is Ugly Until It’s Not

It’s been about a year and a half since I published a blog post. I never intended for the hiatus to take this long, but I’m glad it did. A lot has changed since my last post and I’ve grown quite a bit too - spiritually and physically (I’m not kidding, I think I got an extra inch added to my height).

Change and growth require shedding. I’ve shedded a lot over the past two years - some of which are long held unconscious beliefs that I’ve had about my hearing loss, and then some. As I navigated the shedding of these beliefs, as well coming to terms with a lot of other personal things that have come up - I felt like I couldn’t just jump back into blogging right away.

As I realized these unconscious beliefs and started the process of shedding them, I was changing and growing. To fully let these beliefs go, I had to step back and allow myself to heal from losing those beliefs - some of which I’ve held ever since I was diagnosed with hearing loss and became aware of how that was perceived by the world around me. 

I won’t dive into every single one of the beliefs that I’ve realized, and still am in the process of shedding. I’ll start with just one for now - my disability is ugly. 

This is a tough one. It’s not a comfortable topic. I used to deny that I had this belief. I would say, “my hearing loss is a part of who I am! I’ve embraced it. It’s great - I am so glad that I have it!” It was so easy to do this, because my hearing loss is not a visible disability - it was one that was easy to sweep under the rug, and pretend that it was something I didn’t have. Then the pandemic hit, and everyone started wearing masks, and the fact I couldn’t hear as well as others was shoved in my face every day.

Ordering a coffee during the morning rush? Forget it. Eating out at a loud restaurant and trying to communicate with the waitress. Hahahahahaha nope. 

This hyper awareness of my hearing loss, coupled with this niggling frustration of going out and messing up simple tasks because everyone was wearing masks brought up some things when it came to myself and my hearing loss. 

This belief that my disability was ugly reared its head in different ways.

One of these ways was when I had a conversation with a client from work. They mentioned how their partner was diagnosed with hearing loss, and had to get hearing aids. Their partner asked my client if they still found them attractive even though they had to wear hearing aids. My client was in disbelief that their partner would even ask that question - and I wholeheartedly agreed that the question was ridiculous. But a thought crept in - ‘I get why they asked that question…I believe it sometimes.’ 

Another way this belief crept in was when I had to do a writing exercise, the purpose of which was to re-frame how you look at your body. I had to make a list of all the things I thought were unattractive about my body by pointing out physical aspects - things like ‘I have thin hair’ or ‘I’m too bony’ etc. The first thing I wanted to write down was ‘I have hearing loss’, but I stopped myself. I didn’t want to believe that this was something I think was unattractive about myself. 

I thought back to multiple moments growing up where I used to be made fun of because I couldn’t hear things properly during classes or because of the way my voice sounds - especially in the days before I did speech therapy. I observed how anyone that was slightly different, whether it was a child on the Autism Spectrum, or someone in a wheelchair, was made fun of.

Disabilities are perceived as unattractive in today’s world. They are treated as if there is something wrong or missing, and those that do have disabilities are expected to carry that belief around. Based on my own experiences, and how I saw others treating folks with disabilities - I came up with my belief that because of my hearing loss, I am not attractive. My hearing loss is ugly, therefore I am too. 

This belief was deep rooted in a lot of what I did - I pretended not to have it and always made sure that my hair was always down so no one could see my cochlear. I unconsciously compensated for this “broken” part of me by making sure that everything else about me was perfect - my hair had to be perfect, my clothes had to be perfect, my nails had to be perfect etc. I built this idea that, as long as everything else about me was perfect, then my disability won’t be so bad. 

When I noticed this about myself, I was pretty upset. Damn, I’m not as progressive as I thought I was when it came to my hearing loss!

It took time, but I realized that, disability or not, this is a type of misconception a lot of people have about themselves - whether it’s because of their hair, the color of their skin, their body shape, and so on and so forth. Society always holds certain standards of beauty, but these standards change over time - much like fashion trends. 

At the end of the day, it’s just hearing loss. And the only way I can make it “not ugly” is if I believe it isn’t - regardless of what anyone else thinks. 

This may seem like such a small and minor belief in the grand scheme of things, and maybe it is - but it was huge for me! This belief ruled my life in ways I never thought of until I had to dig a bit deeper. 

I’ll be honest, this belief that my disability is ugly is still something that I carry around but I’m working on it and all the other beliefs I’ve come to realize have an unconscious hold on the way I think, I talk, I move and more. 

There’s still a lot of uncertainty - I don’t know if I’m working through the right things sometimes. But…if there’s one thing I’m certain of is that change is inevitable. As the years pass in life, it’s natural for things to change - people, thoughts, beliefs, surroundings and the list goes on.

With change comes growth, and also loss - you lose friends you no longer connect with, you lose beliefs you no longer believe in, and you lose the person you used to be. 

I’ve lived 27 years, and it feels like I’ve changed the most in the past two years than I have over longer periods of time in the past. And more change is coming. Some of you may be in the same boat, and some of you may not - and that’s okay. 

If you’re working through these changes, just know that you’re not alone, and these things take time - so treat yourself with grace!

- Karina

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.