Dear Papa Bear,
Right now, I live in a household with three other furs, and two of these furs are past mates of mine. For the sake of this e-mail, I'll refer to my past mates as 'mates', and the third person as my 'friend' to avoid confusion.
One major issue that somewhat forces me to isolate myself is a really bad issue with noise sensitivity. Over the last several months, my hearing has reached a point where, even if I am locked in my room, the door closed and whatnot, I can hear my mates in the house as if they are standing right beside me. Most of the time, I can't hear them, but once in a while, they get a little loud, either by the TV getting turned up or some of them talking in a louder voice in attempt to get each other's attention.
An issue with the way this situation works out is that the third of these roommates, my friend, ALSO has a hearing issue, but with him, we have to talk a little louder to get him to hear us.
I don't really LIKE to be isolated in my room, but it's the only place I can be where the loud talking doesn't bother me as much. And yet, even in my room, when I come out to ask my mates to be a little quieter, they are, but its only for a few minutes, then they seem to conveniently forget that I asked them to keep their voices down, and they get loud again. Most of the time, the getting loud ISN'T because they're talking to my friend either. They're just talking to each other and they get louder.
My mates seem to have no issue RAISING their voices for my friend because of HIS hearing issue, but they seem to have an issue LOWERING their voices when it comes to mine. I'm starting to think they do this because they believe, since I used to be mates with them, but am no longer, they no longer have to listen to me. I don't seem to have this issue with my friend, just the two that used to be my mates.
I can't very well ask for complete and total silence, because there's nowhere on the planet I could get that, but my mates don't seem to understand that the constant disregard for my hearing issue is actually making matters worse. Talking nice doesn't work, yelling doesn't work. I'm at a loss for what to do.
Can you offer any advice on how I should handle this?
Hugs and love,
* * *
Yours is a rather complicated situation. Papabear doesn’t know how you wound up in a situation in which you are living with two ex-mates. Frankly, most people would find it intolerable trying to get along with former lovers. Usually, hurt feelings are involved, and the situation is unbearable until someone moves out.
Before we get into the social dynamics of it, let’s talk about the medical issue. You seem to have hypersensitivity regarding hearing, while one of your former mates has hearing loss. The obvious solution would be for your former mate to get a hearing aid, and you, perhaps, to get earplugs or wear headphones so you do not hear the noise so much.
Papabear is beginning to guess that a big issue here is money, that you are living together not because you want to but because you have to because money is short; and that the person with hearing loss cannot afford a hearing aid. Hearing aids can cost thousands of dollars, as you might already know. If you cannot get help from insurance or other programs, you might try the Help American Hear program sponsored by the Foundation for Sight and Sound at http://foundationforsightandsound.org/index.html. They might be able to help with this situation.
As for your sensitive hearing, have you seen a doctor about it? If not, perhaps you should. If so, and they can do nothing, have you tried simply using ear plugs? Or, as mentioned above, head phones? Papabear’s mother wore earplugs all the time because his father snored very loudly!
Okay, so those are the direct, medical possibilities (and, remember, I’m not a doctor, so always consult a doctor first about medical issues!), but what of the social ones? You mention that your friend and other mate seem to have no problem raising their voices so that mate 2 can hear them, yet they have trouble doing the opposite, lowering their voices for very long so as not to bother you. It sounds (pardon the pun) that perhaps it is simply more natural for them to speak loudly, and so they do not really have to think hard when it comes to shouting so that the one mate can hear them.
Keeping fairly quiet, on the other hand, seems and effort. If you’re all in the same room together, Papabear can see how this would be trying for everyone. “Okay! Gotta speak loudly now because we’re talking to YOU, but wait, we gotta keep quiet because our other friend is pained by loud noises.” So, I do not believe they are “conveniently forgetting” about your hearing; it just gets too complicated raising voices, lowering voices, talking in a normal voice, so they seem to have largely settled on talking loudly so at least most are satisfied. Also, if you’re in the other room, they might simply forget about keeping their voices lower because “out of sight, out of mind.” Once again, the easiest solution would be for you to wear earplugs of some sort to lessen the noise.
Now, there is also the unpleasant possibility that they are doing this deliberately to hurt you in some way, as they are both your former mates and you were clear that the one person who was not your mate has no problem respecting your wishes. Perhaps they are “getting back at you” in a passive aggressive way. That’s not a pleasant prospect, but it is a possibility.
If earplugs don’t work, and moving out on your own is not an option, and if talking to them reasonably does not work, either, then you are indeed between a rock and a hard place. If Papabear were you, he would do what he could to find a new place to live, such as finding new roommates to help pay the bills.
I hope this helps to at least put the situation in perspective, and wish you well.
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