Solving a Personal Mystery

Found my marbles?

This year so far hasn’t gone quite as planned. Does it ever? But the fifth Charlotte Anthony mystery novel is well underway, and while I can’t announce a publication date or anything, it’s still on track for release some time next spring. And I know the title: An Uninvited Quest.

My last post, about Acceptance, announced my intentions for this year–to be less reclusive, to work smarter, not harder, and to get out and do things, for both work and play. I made many plans, bought tickets, joined organizations, and actually looked forward to everything. Well, um, it didn’t quite work out. If anything, the reclusiveness became worse.

At first, I thought the problem was bad luck–a repeat of bronchitis, bad lighting for lipreading during a couple of events, communication screwups, etc. Then after a while, the coincidences became a mystery. I couldn’t find the explanation for it all. Doubt crept in. Then lack of confidence. And an awful lot of anxiety. I plodded on with work and daily life, but something was missing, something just wasn’t right. I thought perhaps a change in my writing routine was throwing me off, but no, that wasn’t it, either. Went to the doc, determined I was mildly depressed. Got meds, worked in the garden, interacted a lot with my family. It was better, but it wasn’t the solution to the mystery, the something missing in all of this.

The answer didn’t come until this summer, when my husband suddenly announced he was going to learn sign language because he had observed that I was missing far too much of what was being said. My lifelong knack of lipreading was no longer getting the job done. I go into much greater detail about this in a post at The Minimalist Woman, my personal blog: The Signs of Acceptance and the Acceptance of Signs. But for the purpose of this, my author blog, I am happy to be able to identify the source of my greatest unease: increased alienation from increased difficulty in communicating and interacting with others. Once we started using sign language, my confidence returned, and my sense of connection, all because I was literally not missing so much anymore.

One could joke that I naturally write mysteries because, as a lipreader, I solve mysteries with every conversation–deducing the most likely thing said from the combined clues of context, facial expression, body language, voiced vowels, and possible consonants formed by the lips. Seriously, though, I discovered that when words fail me in my personal life, it impacts my creative life just as badly, throws off my entire sense of self. It’s like being censored, squelched, rendered silent, afraid to speak out, and eventually even afraid to form ideas and opinions that merit expression. It was no wonder I was feeling depressed and alienated, even paranoid at times. My inner gift of gab, such as it is, was clamped shut. This wasn’t writer’s block, but something more akin to a technical problem with a psycho-social impact that spilled into every aspect of my work and life. It happened so gradually that I wasn’t even aware of what was causing it.

So the biggest thing I’ve had to Accept this year turned out to be a different way of communicating and even being in the world, one that embraced my deafness instead of struggling to work around it. It will be a while before we’re fluent, but even this early in the game–only two months in–sign language has made a huge difference. My husband is my very own Holmes. What baffled me was elementary to him–he spotted the problem and announced the solution. Life is certainly a lot brighter as a result. And the joy in words is back.


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