Archives for posts with tag: Misophoniac

 misophonia-on-tvGuest blogger Marty reminisces about the days when he could watch TV without misophonia triggers. 

Subliminal Seduction

by Marty

By my mid-twenties I figured out how to cope with various noises, and misophonia was becoming a small part of my life.  I didn’t watch much television, but there were a few shows that made me laugh and if I was home, I would watch The Waltons with my mother.

During a commercial, a corn cob appeared and moved toward the camera and then underneath the camera.  When it was out of site, the soundtrack became an unbelievably long, loud, and ugly chomp.  Then the corn cob reappeared with a bunch of mangled kernels so that there was no doubt about what the sound was supposed to represent.  I got up and left.

Why was I so shocked?  This is the first time I heard a trigger sound on TV.  It was 1972.  Up until then, watching TV was safe.  I worried that this might be a trend.  The next few months confirmed this.  We were treated to apples and potato chips being crunched.  There was no closed caption or mute switch then.  I moved and the TV stayed behind.

Four years later, I was given a book, Subliminal Seduction by Wilson Bryan Key.   It was about tricks used by the advertising industry to trick people into buying their product. It has since been criticized.  But what I found interesting was his insider account of the above incident.  The advertisers association did not approve the ad at first.  They were afraid that it was so disgusting that there would be a backlash, a public demand for regulation.  There was no backlash.  Then they green-lit all kinds of eating and chewing noises.

My question is: If we were always such a tiny minority, why were there no chewing sounds between the beginning of TV, around 1950, and 1972?

Rent some old movies.  See how rare the triggers are.  One of my favorite movies was the BBC’s House of Cards made in the 1990’s.  I don’t remember a single trigger.  This year, the American remake was released.  It was one trigger after another.  People always had something in their mouths when they were talking and you could hear them chew barbecue ribs.  Why?

Be less human and this just might work.

Be less human and this just might work.

“There’s a moment you know…’re f*cked.”

So go the lyrics to “Totally Fucked,” one of my favorite workout jams from the musical Spring Awakening. Little did Steven Sater know when writing the lyrics that he was actually describing a totally pivotal moment during a Misophoniac’s romantic relationship with a Normal Person.

At a certain point into the relationship – perhaps a few weeks if you’re with someone sort of ‘meh,’ or a few months if you’re with a major studmuffin – there comes a subtle-yet-earth-shattering shift that forever alters your tolerance levels.

Misophonia f*cks love in the metaphorical ass.

It looks something like this:

I meet David. He’s wonderful. He’s beautiful, and he adores me, and we quickly become enchanted by that completely disgusting, can’t-get-enough-of-you, texting 24/7, naming-our-babies New Love Fever.

I am so high off this fever, so out of my mind with desire, that it doesn’t even matter that he chews GUM. He is an avid, enthusiastic gum chewer. I am the sole beneficiary of his obvious oral fixation, however. He even chews gum while bestowing upon me all the benefits of a tongue made dexterous by 16 hours a day of constant chewing (and he’s somehow able to do this without getting anything stuck anywhere it shouldn’t be which, when you’re drunk with Love Fever, isn’t weird or disgusting – it’s talent!)

But I have Misophonia. I do. And one of my triggers, as someone inordinately sensitive to a very particular sound set, is the sight, sound, and smell of someone – anyone – chewing gum. As much as I tell myself that’s it’s “different with David,” it’s only a matter of time before Steven Sater rears his ugly lyrics, and I’m totally fucked.

It happens in the car. We’ve only been dating for two months. It’s a sunny day. He picks me up. I’m in a great mood. We have plans to go to the beach, then dinner, then maybe a romantic evening at a hotel (right. As if I could stomach an evening in a hotel with paper-thin walls).

I open the car door. He is chewing gum. As he always has been. And I snap.

My snap is internal, because in addition to be a Misophoniac, I’m also dreadfully passive aggressive.

Rage swells within me. I am filled with hate. Blood swells to my genitals – a reaction I will truly never understand, but apparently this is a common symptom of many Misophoniacs. My thoughts begin to swirl, and the conversation between me and my mind goes something like this:

Me: That’s it. I can’t fucking take this. We have to break up, stat.

Mind: Will you calm down? It’s just gum.

Me: I can’t fucking take it! I’m going to open the car door right now and roll out, ninja-style!

Mind: Why don’t you just ask him to chew with his mouth closed?

Me: That’s not good enough. I’ll still be able to see his DISGUSTING MOUTH MOVING and his JAW CHURNING and I’ll KNOW that he’s still CHEWING!!!!

(Keep in mind that mere hours before, that same “disgusting” mouth was between my legs at my own request. I say this not to be crass, but to illustrate the lunacy of the condition, and its ability to take over the mind and poison it).

Mind: Why don’t you ask him to spit out his gum?

Me: Because he shouldn’t HAVE to spit out his gum! He has a RIGHT to chew gum! Why the fuck does it BOTHER me so much? It’s not fair! Why can’t I just get over it?

By this point, David has begun to sense that something’s wrong.

David: Are you ok?

Me: (smiling unconvincingly) Fine.

But I’m not fine, and as David persists, I begin to pick a fight that has nothing to do with gum or Misophonia. I somehow manage to come up with OTHER reasons that I’m upset with him, resulting in a completely bizarre fight that makes no sense to either of us. When I finally admit that the real cause of my upset is his gum, he immediately whips the offending putty out of of his mouth like it’s been poisoned.

Matthew: “Why didn’t you just say so? Jesus, it’s just gum!

It is just gum. Its insignificance is so apparent, so obvious that allowing it to upset you is embarrassing. It feels shameful. It makes me feel so neurotic, so obsessive, so weak, so selfish. There is such pain in resisting what is, in not being able to accept the present moment in whatever form it takes.

In that moment, I know that I will also no longer be able to tolerate his snoring, or the bizarre way he eats sushi (with his hands….?). It’s over. My love is lost again, devoured by the Misophonic Monster.

How can a Misophoniac find happiness in love? Is it possible to find someone who doesn’t trigger you in any way, ever? Is it fair to ask someone else to change themselves for you, or even worse, to change themselves in order to accommodate your condition?

My thoughts always turn toward the other person – what’s fair to them, what is or isn’t “too much to ask” of them.

David had a right to chew gum.

But don’t I also have a right not to be miserable when he does?

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