I woke to a noise this morning, after an exceptionally good night’s sleep. The peculiarly loud humming seemed to come from a great distance. The actual volume in decibels of the sound was probably not noteworthy, it only ‘seemed loud’ to me, upon waking – but it was enough to wake me. I woke in a good mood, and began my day with the noise in the background, persistent and strange. It was as I made my coffee that I identified the source of the sound, and in annoyed disbelief I began checking other things…opening doors, listening outside… how could this noise be the damned refrigerator? I check myself, and slow down. It is the refrigerator, and it isn’t that loud; I’m sound sensitive this morning.

Being sound sensitive is just ‘one of the things’ I associate with both my TBI and my PTSD. I’m not in a bad mood, or stressed out at all, but knowing that my level of sound sensitivity is high this morning is something to be mindful of later. For me, sound sensitivity works a bit like an aura might for someone with a seizure disorder; it’s a practical heads up that I may be more easily triggered than I expect, or that I may be easily pushed from order to disorder. I imagine a cartoon farmer, squinting at the sun, “Yep, could be a storm moving in…” I laugh it off and move on with my morning, awake and aware, and prepared to take care of me. Living alone, this is nothing to be alarmed about, or self-conscious over; it is enough to be aware that small moments of irritation may not truly be associated with the things I think I am irritated about in the moment.

It’s difficult to express how being sound sensitive can be a big deal. When I struggle with this particular facet of my experience, it’s as an irresistible force being applied to my consciousness, something with the power to reduce my humanity to a more animal level. Some sounds can aggravate me quickly to the point of weeping… or fury. It’s visceral, and seems inescapable. Ear plugs help – it’s a low tech solution, but actually quite effective. A dark quiet room, ear plugs, meditation…especially effective taken together, without interruption, for an extended period…but what if I am on the bus? Or at work? Or walking through the trees feeling fussy that other walkers are “talking so damned loud”? In public spaces I end up using sheer brute force self-control to get by on, sometimes arriving home with a headache from gritting my teeth to stop myself snarling at people, and melting into tears as soon as the door closes behind me. It’s a physical feeling sort of pain, actual pain, that doesn’t respond to anything at all besides quiet…and meditation. When it is severe, I sometimes find myself wanting to shout at even the people most dear to me, whose laughter is like music in my ears any other time, to please just fucking stop talking/laughing/breathing/moving things around. It hurts my [emotional] heart just to have those feelings about someone I love; on top of the pain of the sound sensitivity itself, the [emotional] pain of needing to distance myself from the sounds of life and love is indescribably unpleasant, and isolating.

Enough.

Enough.

This morning I am feeling fortunate – and grateful. Sure, I’m a little sound sensitive, but I slept well, I feel good, and I haven’t treated anyone badly as a result of my condition. I’m smiling. The day begins well, and my coffee is hot and tasty. My toes are cold in the chill of morning, and I see overcast skies that are clearly more of autumn than of summer. Life moves forward, and I enjoy each new opportunity to bring a little more order to my experience, and treat myself better than I understood how to do yesterday. The value of incremental change over time can’t be overstated.

Handing over the keys and putting the artist within in the driver's seat.

Handing over the keys and putting the artist within in the driver’s seat.

I’ve got love on my mind, this morning, and I am filled with inspiration. The long weekend ahead is no coincidence; I am painting this weekend. The first solidly creative weekend since I moved in has already begun, finishing the installation on my west wall (that sounds sort of ‘grand’ – honestly, I just hung some paintings). I love the creative work I do when I am filled with passion and joy (no rude jokes, I’m talking emotions, here!). Over my coffee, I allow my practical and creative sides to collide in a complex internal dialogue ‘about’ canvases, pigments, lighting, composition, theme, and technique…and not at all about any of those things, really.  I will shortly overcome my sound sensitivity…with sound. I rarely paint in silence; today will be filled with music, played loud enough to completely drown out my tinnitus, but not loud enough to piss off the neighbors. I will, however, choose my playlist with great care, today; some frequencies, beats, or vocal qualities will not be a good fit with the sound sensitivity.

Where will the journey take me?

Where will the journey take me?

Today will be filled with light, curtains open to the sky, and no concern about whether the neighbors see me painting –  and dancing; this is my experience, and it is one that is entirely out of reach of anyone else’s judgement, or opinion. Today is a good day to unleash the creative force within. Today is a good day to enjoy the woman in the mirror, doing her thing. Today is a very good day to live in my world. 🙂