Being a good listener can be challenging. When someone is speaking, my mind is constantly making connections, so I must consciously stop myself from interrupting. My sister was the greatest listener I ever knew. When I spoke, I could tell she took in every word. She still sends me signs that she’s listening from heaven.

Then there’s our sense of hearing, or AUDITION, that has presented challenges for me. Growing up, I suffered from noise triggers. It wasn’t until the past few years that Reddit, of all places, diagnosed my condition as MISOPHONIA.

When I learned of this ailment, my whole world changed. There’s even a small but supportive r/Misophonia Subreddit that I joined.

Although there’s no treatment, just knowing I have Misophonia and its triggers, has offered some relief. The triggers can vary from person to person, but the most common is chewing noises. Responses can also vary, such as irritation, anger, even emotional breakdown. For me, chewing, jack hammers, certain street noise, and repeated hammering, can trigger a physical reaction.

For example, recently I was playing beach volleyball with my group when a new house was being built right in front of our usual court. The jackhammer noise was at maximum decibels, but I tried to ignore it. After four games, I finally broke down crying and apologized to my besties and explained I simply couldn’t play anymore. That’s an extreme example because the jackhammer noise was so close, for me it vibrated my whole core. If it had been a block away, I could have handled it.

To this day, I refuse to go to the cinema because of the popcorn and gum chewing. If I must attend a screening, my breathing and meditation practice helps me hang on until the popcorn is gone. Or I’ll change seats.

Now, I’m experiencing a new auditory malady, Tinnitis, which is more common. Some people suffer from Tinnitus all their lives. But it can also be triggered by wear and tear, and aging. A promising new device called Lenire received FDA approval this year. As I age, if my Tinnitis worsens, I’ll be visiting an audiologist.

Meantime, there’s not much we Misophonia sufferers can do. We are at the mercy of those around us. So please, be kind and close your mouth when you chew.

Otherwise, I’ll just stay home meditating with the big pine and the feral kitties😻

Zen Garden

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