In the case of creative pursuits, I need quiet. No music. Conversations and street noise must be muted. I learned this years ago when I attended college for an Advertising Art Program. While I was in creative mode, designing my projects, I needed complete silence. While I was in technical mode, that is, rendering the piece, I listened to music. The same goes for my writing. While I compose a piece, the room is quiet. Once a post is ready to upload, format, and illustrate, then the tunes come on.
But I am sensitive to noises in another way. In certain circumstances, I am enraged by the sound of chewing. It has always been thus, and I’ve always blamed it on my Dad.
During my early adolescence, I hated family meals. Vehemently. I’m sure there were several factors in play, as typically found in the “coming of age” scenario. You know, the kicking at the traces sort of youthful rebellion, and hormone-induced sullenness.
Then there was the Wilson family dynamic which involved an authoritarian head of state and a mute second-in-command. Dad laid down the law and mother… ate her dinner in silence.
During this time Mom was the sole breadwinner. Dad’s business was on the skids and there were threats of eviction. My parents argued and traded insults. Dishes flew during arguments after we kids had gone to bed. One breakfast, while dad was mixing up a jug of powdered skim milk, he took offense at something mom said and wind-milled the container of water to the floor.
No, meal times were not pleasant occasions of the “Father Knows Best” variety. All we wanted was to eat our meal and get away from the tension as soon as possible.
When I was younger, around the time of the “eat your peas” incident, I sat beside Mom at the kitchen table. A few years later, though, the seating arrangements were changed. Dad was at the head, and I sat to his left and the middle brother sat beside me. It occurs to me that perhaps I was a buffer for my brother who was also sullen, hormonal, and kicking at traces.
Whether it was a conscious decision to seat me next to Dad or not, I hated it. He frightened me, I had no respect for him, and I hated the sound he made when he chewed. He was most often in a mood, and breathed heavily through his nose while chewing his food. It was disgusting to me.
So much did I hate that sound that even today I cannot abide it when someone chews their food in the same manner. I manage to talk myself down from the emotional ledge when those chewing noises trigger a reaction. It’s a learned response, I tell myself, from my childhood.
Besides, I’m a sensitive type. The kind described by Elaine Aron in The Highly Sensitive Person. Loud or sudden noises will startle or otherwise trigger a flight or fight response.
It’s the same old story: nature or nurture?
Or is it Misophonia?
Misophonia, literally “hatred of sound”, is a neurological disorder in which negative experiences (anger, flight, hatred, disgust) are triggered by specific sounds. People who have misophonia are most commonly angered, and even enraged, by common ambient sounds, such as other people clipping their nails, brushing teeth, chewing crushed ice, eating, slurping, drinking, breathing, sniffing, talking, sneezing, yawning, walking, chewing gum, laughing, snoring, typing on a keyboard, whistling or coughing.
Categories: Mom and Dad