Obtaining Structure

Exmormon, Recovering from surgery, and starting a new life

Month: February, 2013

American Sign Language (ASL)

The first time I saw someone speaking American Sign Language (ASL) was probably when I was around the ages of 7-10. My parents had a friend in Idaho (who also owned horses) that was a ASL interpreter.

My parents were very close with this couple but us kids didn’t really know them all to well. I think it may have been in a church setting that I saw her signing to the audience I really wish I could remember more of the experience but I remember being extremely curious about it. I wanted to know more. Why did she use her hands that way? what was it for? How could I do the same thing? So naturally I went to my mother for the answers.

She told me that her friend used her hands to speak with people. I then asked “Why didn’t she just use her mouth?” This was probably pretty funny to my mom. She sweetly answered that there were some people who couldn’t hear and had to use their hands.  She also told me that her friend learned their language and was able to translate what she heard into their language. Ever sense that day ASL has been something I’ve deeply wanted to learn.

I’m not sure why I’ve never shared this information with many people before. Maybe it’s because of the reason that ASL was and still is so interesting to me. First things first when I was 6 months old I had spinal meningitis. My parents were told that later on they may see brain damage but most likely not until I was in school. This caused me to also have a very low immune system.  When I was between the ages of 0-5 I had A LOT of ear infections. During those periods I couldn’t hear very well. My mom recalls that I’d sit very close to the Television and turn the sound up all the way and still complain about not hearing it. I had 5 sets of ear tubes (these are little round plastic spool like things that are built to help drain fluid from your ears) Before I was 4. At age 5 I had my tonsils and adenoids removed. This seemed to clear out most of the problem (I still struggle with congestion on a daily bases).

Ear Tube

However, because of the lack of being able hear until I was 5 I had spent most of my early years lip reading. I had developed a bad lisp and unfortunately passed that onto my younger brother because we hung out so much (he is 18 months younger then me). I had to have a speech therapist for some time. He was the nicest guy I have ever met. He was just this sweet old man that would always encourage me to better myself in the kindest ways. I can’t compare him to anyone else in my life. He used to tell me I was the BEST tongue clicker around (where you make a clicking sound with your tongue at the top of your mouth). I’m sure I wasn’t but he made me feel special.

Later on in school.. I want to say about 2nd or 3rd grade I started showing signs of dyslexia when I would write and read. I struggled with learning words. So they gave me IEP testing to see what was going on. They found out that I had Long term memory loss and that my short term memory was working amazingly to try and over compensate for the loss. In basic terms brains have to places of storing memory. One is the short term which only hold a certain amount of information but then that information gets pushed out by new information and stored into the long term memory. So pretty much I do not remember things easily.. and I have struggled my whole life with this learning disability.

These things all added together are why I’m so very interested in ASL. Not only do I understand what it is like not being able to hear I also understand what it is like growing up in a fast paced society and having a disability. Mine obviously isn’t as noticeable as being deaf but it does cause a lot of difficulty with moving forward in the sort of society we live in. Lastly because of my disability learning other languages is almost impossible. I still can’t sound out words… let alone try and learn another languages sounds. This is a more recent reason to why I’m interested in ASL but I love the visual aspect of the language. It’s so beautiful and expressive. The way they can depict stories or how they are feeling it something I hope to once achieve.

So why am I writing about my interest in American Sign Language? well.. Because I’ve decided to go back to school and try for my associates in American Sign Language!  I’ve been planning on doing this for over 5 months now and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I’m hoping to start in the fall if all goes well. If not then in the spring! Choosing to do my associates was a hard thing but as of right now I really really really want to try for it. I’m going to look into the Learning Disability program at the schools where I live now and see if they can help me more then the schools in Utah could. My learning disability is very rare.. which also makes it hard to believe and then to also aid someone with it… So I’ve tried college 2 and wasn’t successful. I’m hoping this time will work out. If the Associates plan doesn’t pan out i can at least get a certificate in ASL and then move on to becoming a interpreter! This has been a dream of mine from such a young age. I can’t wait to finally full-fill it!

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Part 2: Obtaining Structure

It may sound odd to some but moving is part of me obtaining new structure in my life. For one I grew up in a family that has a ton of mental illness along with a toxic religion that my parents were and are still true believers of. That mixture of things makes quite a big mess when it comes to being “healthy” emotionally. My siblings and I have really grown up sense living with each other but we all struggle still with the lack of being able to set proper boundaries and respecting each other. We just weren’t really taught it. Our parents loved us yes, but they didn’t love each other. Maybe some part of them did but it wasn’t a part that we as children could see. I’m grateful for the life my parents gave me. That I’m able to breath and live in this amazing world. Would I change my experience if I could go back? I can honestly say that I would not. This isn’t something I could have admitted to a few months ago though. 

Moving may be considered an “escape”, I suppose, but I’d like to think of it as bettering myself. I love my family. Please do not think that I don’t. I want to have good and healthy relationships with them though. Not the ones we developed in our home. Those relationships were bitter, hateful and manipulating. We never understood each other. I didn’t know that my sister needed more then anything to be understood. I didn’t know that my brother acts like a cocky son of bitch but deep down just needs someone to listen and love him. They never knew that I held everyone’s burdens on my shoulders and really just wanted peace. So moving for me is helping me better those things. In return we all have a better support system. I know it’s been better for me.

Even though losing my religion has made me lose my structure it is still a huge part of me regaining structure as well. Like I said in my last post I am now atheist. To me this means more then just the disbelief in a higher power but a new belief in myself. Now all the things I’ve done in my past and in my future are all ME. I have nothing to hide anymore. It’s a liberating feeling. I can be honest with everyone in my life and most importantly with myself. Honesty is something that I have been lacking sense High School. Teenagers always question things right? they usually say how unfair everything is as well. I found myself trying to let go of those dumb teenage ideas so that I could become an adult. This hurt me. I became dishonest and lost sight of who I was. So yes, losing my religion has given me a huge stepping stone into my new structure and that is, Honesty.

Image

With this I’ve had to face my foot surgeries head on. There was no longer a God giving me a “trial”. Now it was just science telling me how I could better myself and what will help me heal properly. It’s been easier sense I let go of the idea that God will tell me when I’m ready to move forward in life. I realized that I probably had been ready for a long time. That I was letting my fears control my actions. So what did I do about it? I kicked myself in the ass and went Job hunting. Hardest thing I’ve done in a loooong time. I had so many fears when it came to how I could perform as an employee. I knew I had to just try it and see. Other wise I’d never know and I’d be stuck where I was at. Which was depressed and purposeless.

I found a job! I have been working for 2 weeks and it’s been rough. I wont lie but at the same time it’s exactly what I needed and will help me get out of my head and REALLY move on. Along with this I hope to make friends and meet new people. Finding a job is just one hurdle  for me obtaining the structure that I need. But friends will be a even bigger hurdle. I’m looking forward to my future again even if I only look to tomorrow that’s more then I had been doing. For months I could only see today. I was stuck and lost. Now I’m finally moving forward and it’s still hard. But it will be worth it.