What Tinnitus is Teaching me About Recovery

Headphones 1

Recovery can give you new music, but first you have to embrace your silence.

___

He was a huge help. His uniform said “Security,” but he was more like a human GPS.

I was late for an appointment, sweaty and in a bit of a panic. I walked up to his building and before I could even open the door, he had it open for me. 

His uniform threw me off a bit. I wasn’t looking for trouble, just directions.

“Can you tell me where this address is?” I asked.

“Right around the corner, up two blocks,” he answered.

In a few minutes, I was at my appointment. Grateful and now focused on getting my hearing checked. My hearing needs some care and attention these days. Not because my wife told me to get it looked at, although she probably has wondered about it.

Getting my hearing checked

I have tinnitus, a constant high pitched ringing in both ears. It is not a gift, not a super power, just an irritation. It’s like having a pre-adolescent Justin Bieber singing one continuous note in my head.

For more about my journey with tinnitus, see this humorous post on the 16 Ways to Cope With Tinnitus (Ear Stalking).

The doctor did not tell me anything I did not know. There is not much that the medical system can do for this condition. Thanks, Doc.

Turns out the Security Guard was more helpful than my Doctor. I guess that I’m like Humpty Dumpty. My doctor can’t put me back together.

Tinnitus has taught me something about health and recovery

Drugs, alcohol, shopping, food and sex are failed attempts at coping with pain and trauma. They are our bodies attempt at distraction. Only, these distractions end up harming us.

Some people talk about recovery as if it is a return to health and happiness. Recovery just isn’t like that, because you can’t go back. The life you used to have is gone. It’s like that for all of us – you can’t go back to the way things were.

We may not be able to go back, but we can adapt. I have tinnitus, but I have adapted: I bought myself a pair of really good headphones. If my ears are going to ring, I want to give them something really good to listen to along with the ringing.

Turns out this is the only thing that we can do to “treat” tinnitus: distraction. So this gives me an excuse for the clueless look on my face. In fact, it is my recovery superpower: I call it my recovery face. Healthy distraction is my ninja-defense.

Really, this is a huge lesson for recovery. Drugs, alcohol, shopping, food and sex are failed attempts at coping with pain and trauma. They are our bodies attempt at distraction. Only, these distractions end up harming us.

Recovery will give you and I tools, new ways to cope and new experiences that expand our confidence. Recovery provides us with opportunity for new relationships and breaking down walls. Recovery is a way of retraining ourselves to live with headphones on. We will still have cravings, hungers, longings and things that piss us off.

But we have headphones now.

Our weakness is our superpower

You will only find your new music when you embrace your silence.

I’m not saying that you are defined by your addiction, by your anxiety or by your annoyances. Your weaknesses only define you if you allow them to. What once was a weakness can become a new opportunity, an open door if you follow it.

You will face a lot of closed doors, but you will find the open doors that you need. And the open doors will allow you to do more than re-cover what was lost. You will only find your new music when you embrace your silence.

A life well lived is the best recovery plan.

If you like what I have to say about recovery, please share it and join my page. My work is to share stories about recovery and wellness.

Keep it Real

Photos by smswaby

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