I am one woman with three cultures. I live them daily. I bounce among the worlds of the hearing, Deaf and CODA. For those not familiar, CODA means child of deaf adults, and specifically refers to hearing children of deaf parents. For me, CODA has a deeper meaning, it is the part that helped to define me…the true ME at my core.
People have been telling me for years how fascinated they are with my life story. After 38 years I finally embraced it. Growing up with Deaf parents before the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed there were limited resources for my parents to have equal access to communication. In order to better assist my non-hearing parents I was their ears and voice. I made simple phone calls for appointments by age six. I translated life insurance language like whole term and beneficiaries by the age of ten. As I got older, my chores were more complex, dealing with doctors’ appointments. My mom got really sick and when finally diagnosed, I signed to my mother she needed to have brain surgery, I was 12.
My childhood was filled with the bridging the gap between the hearing and the Deaf world. My heart was in a constant tug-of-war battle. One side constantly pulled towards worry. Am I properly signing what the hearing people are saying to my parents? Did I get it right? The other side pulled to advocate. Do you know my parents are smart, able and capable? They are my parents, and they love me. This carried such a heavy burden that wasn’t even clear to me until later in my adult life.
In 2008, I was truly lost. I knew I wanted to try to live true to me. I had lived a life of trying to please others. My tug-of-war battles trickled into my own goals and expectations causing me to constantly second guess myself. I realized no one should feel they have to live up to someone else’s expectations.
Reflection helped me see, I never had the opportunity to learn “I” had my own culture, I failed to find ME. Once I tied the tug of war ropes together, I discovered, I went from bridging the gap of the Deaf and hearing worlds to actually living within it daily. The core of what melded the two cultures together was me, my third culture, coda. I started to embrace these three cultures together and realized I had suppressed the one dream I had in high school, to be a performer.
I began to shift my mind more positively, entering into my new chapter of life which I titled, “Positive Positioning” and immediately things started to opened up. After several months of conditioning, just like an athlete, I saw a noticeable difference. I decided it wasn’t enough to think more positively, it had to become a lifestyle, a belief in myself that was deeper than a “can do” attitude.
So, with my new passion driving me, I took myself up on the dare create a one-woman show, and now I’m doing more than ever. I’ve embraced my three cultures with open arms, and have the opportunity to educate people about these worlds.
The response to “codadiva” has been tremendous. People with no deafness in their family share with me they were touched and could relate because they too had held on to a struggle. Once embraced, struggles can be turned into positive energy that fuels the soul. The best accomplishment from this journey was from another CODA. She took a leap of faith to see my show. Afterwards, she thanked me. She didn’t think there was anyone else that had the same story that she did growing up. My eyes filled with tears, realizing I’m the voice and hands for others that didn’t realize they needed it. “Positive Positioning” is my novel that is yet to be written as my life unfolds. I made a dream a reality with pure positive thinking. I’ve learned the more you stay balanced positively, it returns in abundance. I’m still learning, but am amazed it gets easier to handle the uncontrollable situations.
So, what is your tug-of-war? What is your suppressed dream? Shift your mind positively, reflect, journal and take time to unravel those tug-of-war ropes connected to your heart. Once you find it…whatever it is that rocks your core, make it your passion. You too may be the voice of someone that needs it.