It’s no secret. I’m 27 years old, afflicted with Usher Syndrome and proudly Deaf – and single, too. I’ve been single for, what, 27 years?
Some people remain single because their personalities suck. Or their body odour is so repulsive. Bad teeth, poor hygiene, Tourette’s syndrome or badly disfigured. Or in my case, being blind does have a part in many being single.
Last week, I encountered a Deaf guy sitting across from me. He seemed clueless that I call my cane my best friend, that at nights or special situations I use tactile for sign language, or even the fact that I am a budding leader for the Deaf-Blind.
We start witty banter and it leads to flirting. The light is shining through the windows from outside, and his signing is crystal clear because of that reason. We go on, then I tell him I have to get going and reach into my purse for my cane, which has been folded in quarters and tucked neatly into my baggage so that it wouldn’t fall standing up.
His eyes popped open. He said, “You’re blind?”. I nodded. He then shook my hand, and said, “Nice to meet you. See you around.” and hastily exited.
There goes another one. Not that it’s my loss, it’s theirs. I’m just annoyed sometimes that these potential suitors would quickly dismiss the budding romance just because I’m “blind”.
I’ve had several guy friends – I emphasize, good guy friends, tell me the real reason why I’ve been dateless all my life, even during my 7 years at Gallaudet. It’s because I have Usher Syndrome. Dating someone who might not be entirely independent and lacking an asset most Deaf people consider sacred (eyes, for those who haven’t figured it out) scares the shit out of some men, even some women. The thought of having to interpret everything that the sighted see, having to guide their companion everywhere, the thought of losing their blind companion in a freak accident clouds the sighted’s judgment and they’re quick to determine that even the other half that seems to fit them the most – is not right because they cannot see.
I’m not cynical or bitter. I’m being blunt here.
In my 7 years at Gallaudet, I have been asked out by 2 guys – and our dates ended up awkward, insecure. Turns out they were confused about their identity and wanted to “experiment” on me to see if they liked girls or not. Ouch.
Other times I would ask guys out. Most times their reaction would be as follows:
“I’ve got plans.”
“You’re not my type” (this coming from a guy who I truly believed we CLICKED.
“Sure. Let’s do it in a month from now.”
I get it. Ok? I get it!! I admit that if I were sighted and didn’t immerse myself into the Deaf-Blind community, I would have freaked at the thought of dating or even marrying someone who is fully blind. Eventhough he may be Deaf. It’s the darkness and the silence he would go through, the emotions of feeling inadequate and insecure. He would wonder, “What’s really out there, what am I missing that she is not telling me? Why cannot she tell me 100% about the details around me? Is she seeing someone else? Are people deceiving me in front of me?”
Yes. I do think those. It’s getting harder and harder for me to trust people because once you lose vision as well as hearing, you begin doubting what is around you. I have to assure myself that one day I will meet him – the total gentleman, who believes in me as much as I do him, and the trust is wholesome. That is gonna be a bitch to find but I am determined.
Why do I say many of the Deaf-Blind population is single? Because sighted people are scared as shit – they don’t have the strength or courage to live with us on a daily basis. Even the strongest, most independent Deaf-Blind (me) is single. I went to Seattle, Washington for an internship in 2005 and I was amazed at the sightings:
– 100-200 Deaf-Blind people live in WA State
– In Seattle, I know of roughly 10 couples who are married, one half of them is blind, the other is sighted
– Same city: two couples who are BOTH Deaf-Blind (and their lifestyle rocks – they just totally adapt!)
– majority of the Deaf-Blind there are single. I’m talking 75 percent.
I know it is frightening to imagine yourself (the sighted) falling in love with someone who has lost one or more senses than you do. It gives you even more privileges, for instance, sight or sound and the other MIGHT feel inadequate. There are instances when he/she might lash out at you because you ‘forgot’ to let her/him know something happened; or there was a bag in the hallway that she/he fell over – or even the simple gesture of going to the bathroom without letting her/him know. It’s like walking on glass, or even hot coals – it hurts and it’s sharp… fragile at most times.
But don’t be quick to assume that all of the Deaf-Blind people are angry, bitter people. Some of them might have completely come to terms with their blindness and have ways to adapt to anything that comes into their way. They might even be one of the most positive people you’ve met, not believing in fear or anger. Privileges may be present, but keep in mind: Deaf-Blind people do have their certain privileges from losing two senses – gaining more in the 3 others. 😉
For me… I admit I have a “criteria” when it comes to keeping a companion by my side. He must have: patience (for when I break glass or spill water), humour (when I feel at my worst), compassion (when I think I’ve erred), laid-back-ness (serious, uptight people needn’t apply), wanderlusting (I live to travel. Domesticity bores me.), open-mindness (I like to explore the unknown), willingness to be a part of my Deaf-Blind community (self-explanatory and vice versa) and encouraging (I have dreams to chase, and I want him alongside, chasing his own dreams too) and lastly… trusting (he has to be my eyes as well as me his soul). If I have found someone who fits those criteria, then I am so in love.
If I were a genie, I would wish that every Deaf-Blind had their soul-mate alongside them and content with their own blindness, also their hearts brightened by the light of love.