Saturday, February 4, 2017

Too Deaf for Small Talk

The other week, we went to this church community dinner. It is a charity dinner. They made us grilled cheese and some decent chili. The people are nice and polite. We had a hard month from having to do a car repair and while the bills grow larger none of the money does, one of my husband's contract employers had said "Happy Holidays", oh your pay this month will be cut by two-thirds". I suppose the bosses needed more money for ski vacations or something. Selling a few things definitely helped me get through through last month.  I am going to try and make and sell more art work.

My husband even sold something for 12.99 on ebay last night. Well it's gas money.  Somehow we did manage to pay all the monthly bills except a few medical ones I made phone calls on.

I've noticed when I go to these dinners or food pantries, these middle class and above women who are always at least 15 years older then me always at least 60 but usually on the higher end of that scale, approach me to make "small talk". It happened at one food pantry and now it happened again. It is hard, what do I talk to them about? I have nothing in common. If the room is crowded and busy, I can't hear them and get only every third word so that makes things even worse.

They talk about the weather in extensive detail, and their families. I am always so nervous, sometimes I wish they did not approach me to talk to me.  Before we went, I told my husband, "I hope no one tries to talk to me." He wasn't surprised knowing how I feel.

 There's times I have blanked out. A lot of them remind me of my mother, comfortably middle class and above and with the slight tinge of judgment. I don't think I am imagining it. Last night, we talked about impending negative weather forecasts, snow, the blizzards of 1978 and I was asked "So where are you from?" Sometimes I answer this correctly and just give the name of my old small rural town which I really only lived in for 8 years, but I kind of stammered, "Too many places," 

Something about these women makes me nervous. I hate small talk.

Most of the time when you are meeting others there's other talk in the room, you aren't getting clear one on one conversations. I was at a disability meeting too, and realized at I could not hear half of the words of the disability advocate who was across the room. I'm far more comfortable there since that is a meeting for the disabled. I did turn up my hearing aids and the disability rights movie we were watching, had closed captioning. Sometimes I fake hearing people, you can only say "What?" so many times and try to use the few words I can hear to figure out what they are talking about but it is limited and there is a reason more people think I am slow or not that "interesting".

I need someone to talk to about this as it is worsening. I also am going to try to get a Closed Captioning phone but have to talk to an audiologist in March about this issue. I can't hear a lot of voices on the phone now. I also have to discuss how I can't hear anyone in crowded rooms or if I am too far away. Without the hearing aids, one on one conversation would be gone. My hearing has declined to the point where I have to have the hearing aids in to even hear my husband, at home, unless he is right next to me.

 But hearing issues, aside when the conversations are over, I always feel like I said nothing but the wrong thing. Small talk bores the stuffing out of me. It is hard. What do I talk about? I either go "too deep" or "go silent". I think my poor hearing is affecting me socially more then I ever thought about.

Why Do Aspies Hate Small Talk


  1. I used to wish I were deaf sometimes or wore a hearing aid after I saw this old movie as a kid called "1000 Clowns" I think? In the movie, the protagonist a guy with a hearing aid, when he's sick of the world, turns it off to enjoy beautiful silence. But as an adult old enough to just start losing my hearing, I know now it really does confound social interactions - which I found confounding enough already! I hope you have a chance to see someone about your hearing and that they can help. Also yes, I find normal women to be the most perplexing, confusing and judgmental of all.

    1. OL I should look at that movie...I have turned off my hearing aids, well the ones I have now you have to take out, but I used to turn off my analogue to tune out the world. There are times as I wrote about on here, where people have gotten in my face, and talking a mile a minute, I really can't understand them, and it is just easier to claim total deafness.

      I am noting that certain dialects of "country" people around here are not understandable to me. White rural poor people around here tend to slur their words and and also in the inner city where I spend a lot of time to do shopping and going to my food coop, I can't understand anyone and it's scary. I can't understand most people in my socioeconomic boat. Damn it's lonely.

      My senseroneural hearing loss is so bad, someone has to talk to me in perfect articulation for me to "get the words" like a newscaster which this has provided a giant barrier and a half. Sorry you are losing your hearing.

      I think I am facing facts about how it has severely impacted my social life, and maybe things I am blaming on health and other matters is far more complex. Being so Aspie, I'm already having to keep up with social rules and trying to "read" what neurotypicals mean and I am getting LOST. I do have ditigal hearing aids. The hearing loss has been diagnosed as Meniere's and "Genetic hearing loss" [hmm no one else is deaf in the family] by two different ear doctors. One wanted tumors outruled but I never get the MRI, too fat for the standing one.

      Yes I find the "normal women" to be perplexing and confusing and judgmental as well. The poor women around here, I often can't understand, there definitely are different dialects even among whites, I call it the "country" accent to husband and I am completely loss. The white people who speak this way drop the ends of words, and my word understanding goes down by at least 50 percent.

      I don't have any hope among these upper middle class types with their perfect suburban homes and lives and thin bodies to have any understanding for me. I know I have "given up" even trying with those types, "What was I thinking?" I am going to be forever a charity project to those types never an equal so friendship is an impossibility. But even now I am wondering how come I never meet anyone like me? Even people in my age range are much rarer. Finding childless people of my age seems rarer then the Do-Do bird. I have met one or two Aspies here but they were both male and I only see them intermittently at disability groups. My husband keeps telling me there are other people as poor as us that don't necessarily live in the inner city but I told him I never meet them. They are definitely NOT within the church community. Socially things would be tough for me but not being able to understand people is getting to be a serious problem and very isolating. The ditigal hearing aids do help, but the crowded rooms and other circumstances seem never ending.

  2. Yes, I can totally see how deafness combined with regional accents would create a deep isolation. That sounds really frustrating. And I can see how it would be frightening to be in a situation where you simply can't understand the people around you. It's like being in a foreign country but without any hope of a translator. I wonder if th there is a hard-of-hearing community that's organized in any way, like how deaf people are often very organized as a community?

    1. It's hard I'm not sure what to do. I went to a hearing impaired club here a few times, but it was all upper middle class people with mega expensive hearing aids [this was even when I was still stuck with the analogue before I got my digitals] and one told me there smugly to get a cholear implant, I am not viable candidate due to other problems. It was not a community I related to, everyone was 65 plus and wealthy, I was pretty disappointed to be sure. I noticed they could all hear a lot better then me at the time. I got my hearing checked in 2015, and they told me my word recognition had improved from the hearing aids, but I don't know about now. Yes it is like being in a foreign country, some of the people with regional accents open their mouths and I know I'm going to be lost and there's no hope of connection because I can't understand them. I see my audiologist in March, I have to ask about a phone for the deaf and other issues. Maybe she knows of a better club.

  3. Hi Peep, I have hearing loss (Presbycusis)in my family. I think there is a genetic predisposition. I noticed my hearing going "flat" and it was especially difficult to understand soft-spoken people. I believe I was zinc deficient and start taking it for my thyroid disorder. I noticed a marked improvement in my hearing. The research states that improving zinc levels can turn around age-related hearing loss. I now take 20mg of zinc per day.

    1. Thanks Kittiestravel, I will try some zinc, and see if it helps, I am willing to do anything as the hearing loss has worsened. Sorry you have the genetic hearing loss. :(