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Keeping hope alive
Hope has a life of its own. It can be grown or killed. When this happens, people commit suicide and I wasn’t far from it. Without hope, I would be dead.
For 20 years, as a single mother struggling to rear my three children, I felt so alone, suffering financial and emotional instability through numerous house moves and job losses. In 1988, I lost my job, my house was burgled and then burnt down and my youngest son burnt his hand in a work accident and developed schizophrenia.
But there was more to it than that.
Throughout all this, my hearing deteriorated until I became totally deaf. I was a piano teacher and worked in the music industry. I had hoped to do more study. Going deaf was a severe blow.
Every January I set new goals and hoped things would improve. I was determined my life would change. But when each New Year rolled around and everything was still the same I just about gave up hope.
My deafness had isolated me. Social occasions were difficult and I was side-lined at work. I gave up study because I couldn't hear the lectures. When I again lost my job, job hunting became a nightmare. Over the next two years, I applied for 473 positions, attended 100 interviews and only obtained part-time or temporary jobs. All seemed hopeless.
But somehow, deep down there was still a spark of hope needing to be fanned. I never gave up hoping that I would become financially secure, better educated, have a better job, hear again and meet someone to share my life.
One day, after hitting a low point after an interstate move, a job change and children leaving home, I sat at my computer and typed a list of areas in my life where I needed to find change. I knew I couldn’t go on much longer in my state of unhappiness, depression and lack of hope.
My list was short. Under headings, Spiritual, Emotional, Social, Intellectual, Financial and Physical I listed what these meant, what I could control and change and ways I could go about it.
I examined each area identifying why everything was bad, why all aspects of my life seemed devoid of hope. Why was I so unhappy and more importantly - what could I do to change things?
As I typed, I developed a list of things I could actively change. Many were small, others not. Setting a budget and monitoring my spend would help achieve my desire to travel. Visiting a doctor to restore my hearing was more confronting because any solution was outside my control, and I risked having hope dashed. Meeting a man I hoped to spend the rest of my life with seemed beyond anything I could do. What man would want a deaf woman?
I cried my way through a book by Andrew Matthews - “Being Happy”. So much of what he talked about touched my heart and echoed my own feelings. I learned that happiness is a decision and being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. I told myself, “I will be happy for the next ˝ hour – then I can go back to being miserable.” It wasn’t always easy being positive, keeping alive the hope I could change things. But I asked - if I couldn't change them, then who could?
I didn’t dwell on my list but simply implemented a few changes I could control. A few months later when I looked at the list, I was surprised to find I had achieved some of the changes. I wrote down my successes and identified some next steps. Once again I put the list aside getting on with life. A few months later, I checked again to find I had come even further and was again able to identify some new steps.
It was only a simple task identifying areas to change and measuring my progress, but it had an enormous impact. Within the short space of 12 months, I had turned my life around. Many of my hopes had been realised. I felt in control of my life. My finances were healthy. I met a wonderful man and we were soon to be married. I had a new life with new and exciting directions.
With the help of my husband, I took up study and graduated with a BA Degree. In 2002 I had a Cochlear Implant and the hope that I could hear again was realised. In 2010 I had a second Cochlear Implant giving me bi-lateral hearing, better than I’ve had since I was a teenager. I enjoy playing the piano again and hope one day to do more study.
When my husband’s remaining kidney failed our hope of growing old together seemed to dim. He would have to go on dialysis and hope for a transplant, but then we found I was a tissue match and could donate a kidney to him. After a successful kidney transplant, we have renewed hope that our lives will be happy and long.
Since my hearing has been returned, I am a volunteer advocate for the Cochlear Awareness Network. (http://www.c-a-network.com/felicitypiano.php). I make presentations to community groups as well as people who have suffered the isolation of deafness, to give them hope they too can hear again. I am the Deafness Editor for BellaOnline where I tell of my experiences and hope this will help people suffering deafness. http://www.bellaonline.com/site/deafness
My list of hopes was only a simple exercise but I believe the turning point came when I realised that hope is something I could grow and nurture myself. Identifying areas I could change and recording my successes was the first step to fanning that spark of hope. Being happy was my conscious choice and I have made my hopes and dreams come true. A wonderful partner, education, hearing, financial stability, travel, helping our children and a love of living is now my way of life.
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