Not long ago my dear friend Greg from Colorado called me and I could tell right away something was very wrong. Greg has much the same bilateral vestibular dysfunction and effects of it as I do. The difference between my diagnosis and Greg’s is that doctors cannot figure out the exact cause of his vestibular loss, only that it appeared after a surgery and having been given antibiotics – but not gentamicin. On the day Greg called, he had become overwhelmed by how the day, how his thoughts and his mixed up ability to physically and psychologically function, were challenging him. He was stretched to his absolute “deal with it” maximum and was set to tears of anxious fear. He left his desk, went to sit in his car and called me. He admitted that his only thought of getting away from the noise was to call me because as he said, “you are the only person I know who gets it”. His other option he admitted? To get away from it permanently in a very permanent manner… I’m so grateful he chose to call me…
Greg has been the perfect picture of the noise of disability. His has been getting louder over the past six or more years and although he admits things have gotten better, he continues to be haunted by his trauma filled yesterdays and his pain of today. This happens to a lot of us who have transitioned into disability – the noise of what use to be and what isn’t any longer can torment us to oblivion or to wanting to get check out of oblivion. Some days the noise lies dormant wrapped in a thought numbed mind. Other days the noise rages beyond comprehension as our thoughts rage against our very being.
I believe there is a misconception in the world of “thought science”; of the belief that we create our thoughts. In truth, our thoughts create us. So those thoughts of yesterday, of how it used to be, how it will never be again, limit our ability to be the creator of our present moments, of a present silence, of our present self. They limit our ability to create who we really are.
Greg found that by reaching out to others is one way of quieting the noise. You have to talk about and give the noise away and let it know you are still the boss! And Greg is the boss of his noise. By expressing thoughts of yesterday we force them to take leave from the cruelty they place on our today’s. Get them out, let them leave, and take a well deserved permanent vacation from it all.
Acquired disability and its trauma have a way of permeating itself within us as it worms its way into making it be the only thing about us. Especially at the beginning of the transition when nothing seems to make sense and nothing feels the same. However, the one thing we often overlook is that in reality, we – who we are as a person before the trauma, remains the same. What becomes mixed up is our perception of our environment, our relationship to it, and how our thoughts and the filters they slide though that have set us up to understand our life, become keyed up to the point of near explosion. That’s the noise. A traumatized thought is the main section of that noisy orchestra I’ve referred to, and then other thoughts join in, then others. They wander through mixed up filters, then more filters are made, then more what if’s and why’s are set to action. It all combines into one giant non-stop traumatized movement of thought. It leaves us weary, afraid and blocked to pay attention to right now and seriously wanting our body and mind back to what we had before because this right now sucks!
We can stop that noise by recognizing and introducing a silent noise, kind of like a “white noise”. It’s a silent noise of hearing our present moments, the noise that is necessary to our ability to relate to our environment in a direct, in the moment, perceptive manner. Part of white noise is that of paying attention to what is directly in front of us; to just being with it and not fighting it. It’s about paying attention to all the things that are working for us, to paying attention to every little, yet monumental, success we achieve that proves we are getting better. Never discount that first little movement, that first milestone and the others that follow, that first taste of silence, and that beautiful person looking back at you in the mirror.
There really isn’t another choice than to pay attention, not one that can help silence the “black noise” anyway. That’s what I found I had to do to move past the black noise of learning I have developed seizures, had an aneurysm and brain surgery, and ototoxicity and losing my balance. I found I had to actively move beyond my thoughts that had become filled with disabilities and make my way to a right now state of mind. I’m not suggesting this is easy or that it happens overnight. I had to work at it, with it, and let it come to me. A lot of this was discovered through the Brainport research I was involved in and the permanent residuals I have retained. But it was also a big part of my self that was raised up through understanding what silence is. I had to learn what role direction perception and paying attention in a re-educated manner plays in discovering the silence. If I hadn’t learned all this I couldn’t be writing this. I couldn’t be where I am, right now, right here sharing with you my present in the moment attention.
As for Greg, he’s discovering his silence; he’s composing his very own unique in the moment song. I am anxious to hear his finished melody and so very grateful and honored to be his friend, now and always. I’m going to call him, right now because that’s what this moment is sharing with me. I really love being in these moments and paying attention to what’s right in front of me. There are a lot of answers there and a lot of beautiful white noise silence.