Morgan grew up feeling like there were two different communities – the Deaf and hearing. She never quite felt like she could embrace either, until she received her cochlear implant in college. Now she has found her identity and is looking to inspire and educate others through art and science. Read more:
“Akin to individuals of complex identities, I struggled between two worlds, two languages, two lifestyles and two desires. There were two entirely different lives that never fused, two parts of a whole; two parts of me that I struggled to balance and embrace.
Until those two halves were reconnected with the words I Love You.
Growing up as a Deaf child
I grew up like many Deaf children of hearing families, being the only Deaf person and having to alter my life to fit into society’s expectations. I went to a mainstream school with hearing aids and relied on lip reading as my main form of communication. I struggled to not say ‘what?’ too many times in one conversation and hadn’t learned American Sign Language (ASL). I hid my hearing aids with long hair and would rather teach myself than ask for help. I hid my pain until somewhere along my timeline I desired more.
I wanted Deaf friends who understood me, I wanted to know ASL and be able to communicate without having to restlessly lipread day after day. I wanted to embrace my Deaf identity; except embracing it meant being proud and fearless, and I was insecure and afraid. I desired an alternate lifestyle that I did not think I was capable of having and that tore me apart for years.
Until I met him.
I escaped my little hearing town and moved to a huge university where my possibilities would no longer be limited. I searched for people like me and began sharing my story with anyone that would listen. I tried to discover myself by showing little me that it is okay to be afraid and strong at the same time.
I love you. The first sign that someone had ever signed to me. One half of my identity was repaired by someone who had finally loved me for who I was and had learned an entire language for me. He made me feel like it was okay to continue wearing my hearing aids, but also embrace my Deafness by using ASL. I began sharing my love through both languages and I was starting to feel whole again.
I slowly began losing the sound of his voice and the fear was starting to rush back in. ‘What if I forget his voice? Would my family ever learn ASL? What if I lose the rest of my hearing?’ I hardly had any hearing but it was still there. I still had a tiny bit of sound and therefore, a tiny bit of hope.
However, ‘what if that hope goes away?’
Evolving my identity – cochlear implants
I was terrified of cochlear implants, believing that they would take away my Deaf Identity. I was so afraid of making the wrong choice and lose parts of myself that I worked so hard to repair.
I began thinking ‘what if I don’t have to lipread anymore? What if I don’t have to go to tens of appointments every month? What if his voice becomes clearer? What would it be like to hear?’ And so I took my chance.
I love you. The first words I had ever heard with my cochlear implant. Just days after activation I was laying on his lap, feeling overwhelmed and anxious about whether I made the right choice. I won’t lie, it was the hardest decision of my life. Uncomfortable, vexed and stubborn, it took me over ten years to make that decision. I knew I made the right choice for me when, for the first time, I could hear something without having to lipread. I heard I love you.
I spent the next month listening to audiobooks and talking to everyone, slowly hearing those high-pitched squeaks and beeps turn into normal sounds and voices. I began making discoveries of new sounds: clocks ticking, my own breathing, my sweet cat’s purring, footsteps across the house, wind, typing. Everything makes sound. ‘Who knew?’ Every second became better and better and I knew that I had made the right decision. How lucky am I to have heard the first words of I. Love. You.
I mended and connected the other half to my identity.
My two worlds, my two languages, my two lifestyles and my two desires were finally mine. I no longer had to pick between the hearing world and the Deaf community. I no longer had to be too Deaf for the hearing world and too hearing for the Deaf community.
Cochlear™ technology has repaired both of my identities, allowing me to find my place in the world; I will never have to choose between two lives again. I can be Deaf and I can hear with my sound processor. I can finally be me.
My greatest goal is to spend the rest of my life sharing my story through writing and art to raise awareness and empower young Deaf individuals. I will use my talent and education to make the world a better place.
I want to prove to the world that Deaf individuals can do anything. My academic aspirations include receiving a bachelor’s in fine arts and design, in hopes of becoming a Scientific Illustrator upon graduation. Using art and scientific knowledge to educate society would fulfill my dream.
Ultimately, I would like this blog to show my younger self that neither of my identities are afraid. She needs to know that I now speak up for what she couldn’t and I embrace what she didn’t. She deserves no shame in feeling caught between the Deaf and hearing world and to know that she now has both.
Little me would be so proud to know that in the future we became stronger than ever. Hearing loss didn’t ruin my life, it allowed my character to flourish and without it, I wouldn’t be the individual that I am today.
With gratitude for Cochlear, I will forever be grateful for the I Love You’s that fused my two halves.”
Learn how cochlear implants could be a solution for you, with this short and descriptive video!