I always imagined myself with my little (okay, large) family eating dinner together and talking about our days. I had this perfect idea of what it would be like with laughs and confessions of crushes and fears. All of us just joyfully sharing like a perpetual Thanksgiving. Something straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Unfortunately, this is not now and probably won’t ever be a regular occurrence in our home because I have a little thing called misophonia.
According to WebMD, Misophonia is a disorder in which certain sounds trigger emotional or physiological responses that some might perceive as unreasonable given the circumstance. Those who have misophonia might describe it as when a sound “drives you crazy.” Their reactions can range from anger and annoyance to panic and the need to flee. For me, it feels like being rubbed with fine-grit sandpaper. At first, it’s fine but over time it becomes painful and then eventually raw and extreme.
Chewing, slurping, loud drinking, the sounds of the range hood, forks scraped along someone’s teeth, and crunching are among the many sounds that make me physically uncomfortable and feel like I could cry. Do not even get me started on the sound of the hood vent! One of my children prefers to eat everything as if he were a squirrel. Taking tiny continuous bites and feeding the item into his mouth like a tiny conveyer belt. Just typing that out sent a little shiver down my spine.
Once on a road trip, I accused my husband of shaking his M&Ms too much in his hand and slurping his Buc-ee’s sandwich wrap. And I swear I have heard him CRUNCHING soup. My poor, sweet husband just walks away (or refuses to eat until we get home) because he understands there’s no fixing my crazy.
For a while, I attempted to eat with my family. I would grit my teeth and not very gracefully sigh and roll my eyes and count to myself over and over. Finally, something had to give. We couldn’t sustain this. The mouth noises would bring my tolerance of even laughter and joy to an absolute ZERO. When you get to the point where the noises are physically painful all noises hurt, not just the offenders. I attempted to wear earplugs at home for a while, or earbuds with music playing. That led to other frustrations.
I was sucking the happy out of everyone and they were taking it from me, too. So, we got them their own little table. They sit together; they fight and laugh and eat a meal together. Sometimes my husband will stand near their table and eat with them too. I just resign myself to the laundry or eating alone with Netflix to keep me company. It’s not ideal, but I do find joy in my quiet moment and I think they enjoy not having irrationally mad mommy at their dinner table.
Do you ever feel pins and needles of misophonia in your brain from repeated sounds? Do you still eat meals together? Have you ever thought about wearing earplugs around the house? I’d love to know I’m not alone!