Introspective Ears?

Updated: Dec 7, 2019

My husband probably was annoyed just two hours ago, when he tried to toss me back onto my half of our queen-sized bed. I didn't even know that I was invading his space; come to think of it, I never entered mine to begin with it. My unconscious must have been encroaching, trying to get a little bigger piece of him tonight, when my ear was ringing and I just wanted to dissolve into being somebody else; that, or knowing that in twenty-four hours, I will be sleeping alone, trying to pass a night in the home alone for the first time since I've detected the ringing in my ears, almost a month ago now. How can I tell him how I sometimes spot my mind planning for it? Title of contents: "Helpful acts to employ when alone, afraid, and in need of sleep despite the ringing." Contents: popping a Xanax, popping a propranolol, meditating, masturbating.

This last I actually wanted to do while he was still reading last night, and I was just wanting to forget the eeeeeee. For a second, I even considered just being pragmatic and asking, "Do you mind if I touch myself? I've got the eeeeeee." But I didn't ask (or do it). I realized that though he wouldn't have minded, it would still have felt strange for me; and maybe for the universe, which would have to begin tallying, "Orgasms as a response to tinnitus."

It turns out one of my writer-friends has tinnitus, too. This and anxiety, which brought about one of my first tinnitus-to-tinnitus conversations that went along the lines of:

"Hey, how ya doing?"

"Tinnitus and anxiety - not fun."

"Me, too!"

"What kind is yours? Mine's the late 90's internet connection tee-tee-tee-teeeeee, tee-tee-tee-teeeee."

"Oh. Mine's not that one. Mine's the eeeeeee."

Here we are, two writers, typically sufficiently articulate on paper, speaking in and invaded by screeches that mean nothing. Maybe something psychodynamic can be read into them, maybe they're the sound of baby fart pulled out, maybe something anally traumatizing happened to us. This theory fits the rest of what I know about us, that we are too rigid, that I like having control.

If I let go about, maybe the tinnitus won't be there. Such is both the current thought as well as the thought I went with four nights ago, when the eeeeeee was supplanted by (upgraded to?) what felt like heavy machinery in the middle of my head. It sounded like motors were cleaving my skull into halves, vertically. I tried isolating myself in various parts of the home, hoping that I would discover the sound as externally sourced and, therefore, escapable and, best of all, just not a part of the new me. But no, it was in the new me - this I realized maddeningly with my ears cupped on the toilet seat, at one a.m., lights on, of course, because darkness only makes the noises scarier.

I cupped and I listened, because there was no choice. It was an exercise of frustrated acceptance, which I hoped to turn into only acceptance. "Only" as in: acceptance so pure that it weighs a life-changing amount to my mind.

Tonight I didn't cup my ears and I listened, because there, still, was no choice. No matter which direction I directed my left ear, the louder culprit tonight, I could hear the ringing. It's not "better" or "worse" when I put the ear to the pillow; what's better is also worse and vice versa. For example: if I put my ear to the pillow, what's better is I hear only the ringing and don't have to be frustrated at all the other noises in the background coming with it to create an uncouth symphony; what's worse is that the ringing itself seems louder because it is the sole object of focus; but if I don't put my ear to the pillow, the pros and cons are just the reverse.

White noise helps sometimes, but its existence per se arouses my self-pity, and what patient, of any condition, needs that? I've tried the reverse: can-do songs: Roar and Fight Song, over and over. My daughter thinks I turn them on at the start of the night to enjoy singing and dancing with her - which I do - but she doesn't know that these songs are my efforts of avoiding self-pity and trying to fill myself up with positive energy.

The goal of "becoming stronger" is hackneyed, and yet probably helpful. I shouldn't deny the goal of increased strength just because it reminds me of Instagram's shiny cursives against a pastel, multi-blinged backdrop. If only I could now focus on "becoming stronger" as a legitimate goal, coated in some arcane, elite philosophy, I might head for it. I'm staring out into the strait, which looks like black ink, and I'm thinking, "There was a time when there was no Instagram, and people, queens and warriors, could stare out into the sea and aim for 'becoming stronger' without feeling so glittery, so Instagram, so ridiculous."

I realize, looking at the water, that I've slid open my balcony door. I remember making this decision: not for the air, but for the ambient noise - the sound of wind, the sound of cars on highways, the sound of anything else that used to be the only sounds I thought my ears were capable of. Ears, I thought, sensed only outwardly, were not introspective.

But I suppose they are, and that's a new thought to run with - or go back to bed with - tonight. What, ear, are you thinking? What do you want to say? Eighty percent of John Mayer's Say lyrics sound like it's speaking to my ears tonight. And maybe I'll listen for the message that wants so badly to be transmitted.

But I also hope I'll hear nothing, because then it means I'll have incorporated, too, schizophrenia, and that is not one more thing I'd like to add to my tumultuous plate. No sweet spots already found. Still learning how to adapt to new whiny aural life. Eeeeeee.


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