I could tell that the depression was about to rear its ugly head. Last week, I attended the NEA Representative Assembly. Being in a noisy, crowded assembly hall with over 10,000 delegates, staff, and guests was pretty overwhelming. I had to rely on the closed captioning on the jumbotron across the convention hall. Our delegation was seated behind an aisle, so there was a continual stream of people walking between me and the screen, not to mention the people who stopped to greet our association officers or those who just stood to stretch their tired legs in the aisle. I never complained.
It was exhausting.
Trying to listen and maintain attention on those little words that scrolled across the screen took an incredible amount of brain power. I wasn't mentally prepared for how hard it would be. Side conversations among the crowd made it even more difficult to focus. When the people seated next to me asked me questions or made comments about the business, I had to lean in and have them talk into my better ear. And I had to ask them for clarification many times myself.
Four of the nights, I ventured out to dinner with others. I've become adept at smiling politely and nodding during dinner conversations. I actually hoped that no one would talk to me or ask me anything for fear that I would misunderstand or have to ask them to repeat themselves multiple times. It's embarrassing. And it's tiring. Hell, I even laughed appropriately when others did. For all accounts, everyone at the table assumed I was enjoying their stories and jokes. I'm that good.
But I was lost.
Last week felt a bit like treading water in a roaring river -- struggling to keep myself afloat, but being swept uncontrollably downstream where I knew I would eventually be hurled over the waterfall.
The quiet of being home again is a mixture of relief and regret. My weary senses can rest. And I can over think the emotional grief of things lost along with my hearing.
I'm tired of being present in body, yet being totally alone.