San Francisco sits on land of enviable climate and gorgeous views. We are a world class city that people clamor to live here. In a city where there are more dogs than children, people who live here cry out for the need to diversify the population. Many of the population is older retirees or younger single, or young parents with one child. I remember clearly when my husband and I had our second child, we needed a two bedroom and there was no way we could afford one, even as a middle class working family. So we had, with much grief moved out of the area. Four years later we returned having miss greatly our support system, parish, and a way of life we dearly loved in the city. Fortunately for us, Treasure Island opened up and had more affordable two, three, and four bedroom homes on the Island available and we could live there. We have been here for almost twelve years now.
Not everyone is so fortunate as we are. By 2020 San Francisco has a goal as a city to produce zero emissions. What that means is no air pollution from buses, cars, or industry. No garbage to the landfill, zero toxic products being used in government buildings and business in San Francisco (and hopefully by volunteers). All this while at the same time, being able to increase affordable housing for families. While thinking about this, I suddenly had a vision that went something like this.
The Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge had only One lane each open for emergency vehicles and Prior approved delivery trucks which were driven electronically. The rest of the bridges had been turned over to bike riders and walkers who commuted by foot or bike to work or visiting the city or east bay. Personal vehicles were no longer used in the city of San Francisco, not even for politicians. Restaurants abounded everywhere as most people no longer cooked at home and ate out for all their meals. All buildings had businesses on the ground floor and upper floors were for housing. Historical buildings were preserved, but new buildings had been built all over the south part of the city in the old Navel Yard that included several miles of elevated walk paths. San Francisco by 2040 became known not only as a zero emission city, it also was known as the healthiest city.
So was this a vision of thing to come? Humm more like of things that COULD be done. It would take a lot of power and of course $$. Some I know would ask me, hey what about those who are disabled that can’t use public transit for what ever reason? Being one of those people, I often wondered about that myself. While there were no personal vehicles in the vision that did not mean there were no cars (although they did not look like the gas guzzlers we have now). My guess is people would put in orders for rides and be picked up. Granted it would grate teeth to wait. Trade off is that many things were now being delivered to the house, so shopping was not done by carrying packages home anymore, but secured delivery. People ate out or did take out, so groceries were pretty much a thing of the past. Yes the food was locally grown and in fact many people grew their own and contributed to local kitchens where they ate. If you did have a hankering to cook, there were facilities. All of this was done to conserve energy. By keeping the number of where food was stored in smaller areas, the amount of energy needed for refrigerators was cut down drastically. Eating out became a lot more affordable because people did it so much and unemployment was less than 1% which was primarily those who are severely disabled.
If any of you have read my blogs for any amount of time, I have written very openly of my rape (s) at age 4, 5 and 6. There was however another type of “rape” if you will, much more subtle and it had a different name and guise under the tutelage of Education. It was consider conformity, proper upbringing, and correction. It was done for my own good, the gift being that I would be raised to: fit in, hold down a job, and not be a burden to others, and above all, not a failure. I was raised to become a hearing person or to at least duplicate one as close as possible. While saying that my oral education was similar to rape could be over exaggerations, the violations of my personhood and the resulting damage was the same.
This violation taught me many wonderful things about myself. I learned that I am broken and because I am broken and I cost my family a lot of money, I OWE them to do my very best to learn how to talk. I learned to value the talkers power of thought over my own mind. In doing so, I realized I was a disgusting little twerp and to make sure I was a little girl of goodness, I used to find self destructive ways to beat out my anger at how could I be so horrible to my parents, my grandparents, my teachers and everyone around me? I proudly had scabs and callous running down my arms from playing tether ball in the yard. When that was taken away, if I got hurt, I challenged my toughness by when ever I got hurt or cut, I would pour Listerine over the wound to clean it, and dear myself not to scream. Sometimes I felt so dead inside, I was not sure I was real anymore. Noise babbled around me constantly, noise ringing in my head as well, I never knew silence of any kind, nor did I know solid sensory information it seemed, everything was confused jumbled sounds. I think that why I loved mosaics. They were the first thing I saw that made order of chaos. I remember when snow fell where I lived, I walked outside in my bare feet, I wanted to see if the pain would make me alive. The Sister of the Catholic School came outside and saw me. She simply put her arm around my shoulder and quickly and quietly ushered me into the school. Asking me what I was doing, I had no answer. They knew enough to recognized deep pain, and the teachers took time to be with me, and I took comfort in that. Suddenly, the world started to feel a little bit real, when someone took the time to look and say, “Hi”. Then I begin to slowly, ever so slowly learn, I am a damn strong woman too. We call ourselves survivors.
In college I had several breakdowns and only my nearest and dearest friends kept me from doing something stupid. I said nary a word to any of them, but they knew. I owe them all my life and yes 30+ years later, they are still my rocks. That did not stop me from busting a hand through glass (thanks to God it was thin glass), or breaking things, throwing chairs, and other things, cutting hands with X-acto knife. How did a self destructive person like me have the friends I do? Because believe it or not, I don’t WANT to be that destructive person, I love people. Anger however, the way I was taught about who I was supposed to be as opposed to who I AM, was in deep conflict. I have a lot more peace now, but Goodness to my sweet God, I wish it did not have to take more than three fourths of my life to get it cleaned up.
So yes, I was violated while being taught to talk. It was not rape like I was when I was 4 -6 years of age, instead there was the more now recognized form of power over powerless, Patronizing over pitiful. Objectifying the child in order to manage the sensory neural disorders. On March 3, 2012, in the Heartland of America, on a day of what many think of as a Great man, Alexander Graham Bell, Audism Free America in St. Louis MO, will be having their own party. At this party if you could see the souls with special glasses, you would find many of them shredded as mine. Some still raw, some white with healed scars.
While times have surely changed, there is always my friends those who wish to return to the days when making the child conform to the ideal of Oralism, usually pushed by big Pharmacy/Medical Technology and what they think the child should be, rather than what that child can truly fully achieve when allowed to for-fill who they are.
So you might ask, who do I blame for my shredded soul, my pain, my disabled ability to navigate the pathways of life? Truth? No one, and everyone in the Audistic oral programs of my childhood. I mean, look, they did mean well in their own misguided attempts to do well. What sickens me is the consent belief that those of us (Deaf) who have degrees in the same field they do are still not considered worthy of knowing what the Deaf need in terms of Education, unless they parrot the same oral methods. Why am I so against oral methods when I have clearly benefited from it in some fashion?
Let me be clear, I am NOT against Oral training for the Deaf. I am not against the use of Technology if there is a benefit and the person wants it (noted, the person WANTS it). I am against banning of ASL as the primary language for the Deaf . Oral training can be used as a tool. I mean doesn’t it make more sense to use a visual language to explain how to make the throat and mouth movements to produce sounds than through a sound method that is impaired? I mean, can you teach someone to become a photographer with a busted lens? The cost of having an only oral education is this.
In spite of my M.A. degree, loving marriage, two healthy children raised to adult hood and a very active role in the Deaf community, in many ways I am considered a social failure. Why? I am obese (over three hundred pounds), I have poor health that started with a poor digestive system from years of stress acid eating at the lining of my upper digestive tract, asthma, and migraines. I have serious depression which must be medicated to maintain functionality. I depend on Social Security and subsidized housing to help me have money for the times I can’t work enough to earn enough money to feed myself or my family to keep us off the street and out of soup kitchens (where we have been before). I am in what is called the lower social economic order and my children were considered ‘at risk’ their entire lives because of that label. Add $50,000.00 a year income and the ability to maintain it, and no one would have notice we were all that different. The problem of course is maintaining it. Frequent doctor and hospital visits can kill those opportunities.
I am a very creative (Artist, Writer, Sculpture, Photographer, Cook, Deaf Advocate, Conceptual Thinker, Expressive Language Reader, etc…), I am smart, I love people. I am also someone who unless I take exceptional care of self can get sick. In the last five years, I have finally been able to do that. It has been a very long haul to get to this point. I say it took about a life time. I jokingly said once at my birthday. “The first 20 years I survived growing up. The second 20, I recovered from that, this 20, I am trying to figure out what it means to be alive, I think….” That kind of sums it up. I am an example of an exceptional woman who managed to come out of the carnage with gifts to give STILL in SPITE of what happened to her. Let me tell you however, the slaughter, the deaths from suicide, drugs, poverty related health deaths, and crime, stuff we don’t talk about in polite company. Many of those people were my Deaf neighbors, friends, relatives, and part of the community I live in. Those are lives that would have been here too, if their souls had not been shredded. Why am I here and not them? I have no answer except this, I have a message, we CANT go back, we WONT go back, and we will NEVER forget…
March 3, 2012 Be there in person, heart, mind, what ever way you can. Learn about it, BE about it. You owe it to yourself and Deaf children everywhere. Stop the soul Shredding, and instead, lets be Soul Shining.
“Once the egg is cracked, you can never go back, because the yoke goes black, and the chick lays flat.” I have no idea where I picked that up from. But it basically says, dead is as dead does. It also pretty much says what a lot of professional feel that once our own eggs (mental) is cracked, you are dealing with damaged goods and well its pretty much trying to contain the damaged till most people die an early death. Ugh, a few, a very few few, will succeed beyond wildest dreams to go beyond those expectations and beat all the odds. I am determined to be one of them or die trying. I mean if I have to die, I may as well die trying to live, right?
I know a number of mental health specialist. It is rather common for someone like me who both works with those who have mental health issues in my line of work (ministry) and who deals with such things herself personally. For those of you who might be slightly less educated about this, mental illness does NOT mean someone is wacko thank you very much. It can mean anything from a temporary mild case of disrupting depression or anger issues to horror problems of schizophrenia where they are never going to be able to care for themselves alone. As for who is wacko, that usually a media or personal judgmental sticky which is inappropriate and never accurate. There is also another misperception, that someone who is mentally ill must of done something to get that way. Oh really? I supposed if eggs had a thought they would chose to rot? The fact that so many with mental illness desire to die, not because they want to be dead, but because they want to leave the pain, should be a clue. The human being prerogative is to above all things, survive. When that is disrupted, something is seriously wrong. So what can cause such a disruption? Frankly I think there are primarily three major causes. I do not speak from a Ph. D. just from personal experience and observation.
Environmental Factors (Abuse being the primary one)
Physical exposures to certain viral infections (which then infect the brain)
Family Genes / History (Hard to separate the two sometimes).
Did you know that showing your Son photos of naked ladies (the Pornographic kind) before he is 18 is considered sexual abuse? Yep it is. [A parent who exposes a child to intercourse or deviant sexual behaviors or pornographic materials is abusing that child. New York State law now clarifies that such abuse is a crime.] Exceptions would be, unless he brought it to YOU to ask questions. Bringing him in to look at your stash however, is big no no. If this was a tradition that your Father did with you to discuss the birds and the bees, you are then combining a family history with environmental factors. A tradition that is actually abusive. On the surface it might seem harmless and male bonding. One can do the same thing at a museum too with out going pornographic and exposing him to degrading images. Things that could trigger problems down the road. Such actions might also signal a sign of deeper issues in the family one might not even be aware of, just the simple fact there is pornographic material in the house signals that.
I want to go a bit deeper here than simple pornography. What about sexual abuse that happens before the child is the age of 5? It does not matter if there was no physical contact, if it only happened once, or if the person who had it happened to them understood it was not their fault and figures they have moved on. The impact, dang nab it, is still life long and disruptive for life. I was raped repeatedly starting at age 4. Now at that age, due to my undiscovered deafness and delayed speech, I was unable to tell anyone, anything. I literally had no vocabulary to say anything. I do however remember having a torn pee pee, and Mom rushingly bathing me one time and being angry about it. (I was 5 at that particular memory). Growing up I kept wondering if I was a virgin or not. Oh I did so want to be and yes as I learned more English a lot of the memories I had of my early years did get packed away. Interestedly though, I keep the ability to think without words fresh. I found it stimulating as an artist and writer to do so. It was another language for me and gave me insights for my creative self. Much talk or dismissal has been mention about such repressive and recovered memories. Just how validated are they?