Good morning and happy 4th of July to all my brothers and sisters trapped in the United States. Yes, I could have said that better, but… 4th of July has never been easy for me. It’s always made me feel trapped and afraid. And today, I decided to discuss this a bit- because I’ve been struggling with this holiday for most of my life. So, let’s get to it.
To start off, I want you to understand, what I hate about the holiday isn’t the meaning itself: I actually just can’t stand fireworks. I’m pyrophobic, so anything with the word ‘fire’ in it generally disturbs me- but also, these aren’t just fire. They’re often extremely LOUD. If I need to wear ear defenders when my dad’s on the phone, there’s no way I’m surviving the sound of fireworks easily.
When I was young, my family didn’t fully understand my aversion to fireworks and would have me go with them regularly. I tried different things the times I joined in, from ear plugs that weren’t strong enough to keep the sound out to ear defenders that weren’t quite as strong as I need them either. My dad has told me to try both at once, but it’s hard for me to fit ear plugs in comfortably as it is, and I’d rather just stay home where my anxiety is lessened. So nowadays, we watch them (when we can) on the television muted.
That said, it’s not just the fear of fire and the fear of loud noise that make me struggle with fireworks. I also have the most ridiculous phobia from youth: that one of the embers from the sky will fall and land on me or start a fire elsewhere. Do I think that’ll really happen? No, not anymore. But sometimes, my dad feels like he has to remind me that won’t happen when I’m crying from hearing fireworks from another town. It’s oddly helpful, so maybe I’m not as accepting of the facts as I think.
If you’re thinking, “Wait she can hear the fireworks from other towns and it scares her? Are they really that loud?”, then you’re a very good guesser. To me, they’re beyond loud- and nowadays, certain fireworks are legal for residents of New Jersey, so they’re not always in the next town- sometimes they’re the neighbors.
I’ve mentioned before I’m sure, but to be safe, I remind you I have a hearing disability not like your norm: I hear everything too loudly. It’s called hyperacusia, or as I was taught as a kid, “Hyper Acuity Syndrome”. At the time I was diagnosed, I was told I heard ten times better than the average person. The best part is I live in a family that either has purposely ruined their eardrums due to having a similar issue as children, to people that are half deaf because of other issues. It’s hard for people to hear me because I speak so softly to not hurt my own head.
So, with all those fears, how could I really ‘enjoy’ the 4th of July? In fact, I hate the week before and after it as well, because people do them for most of the two weeks surrounding it. I’m never fully safe without my ear defenders- but that’s why I always keep them handy. That said, I’ll probably be in fetal position most of the evening- so wish me luck getting through today, and enjoy it extra for me, okay?