I hate the noise of people eating and drinking. It makes me want to grind the offender’s face off a rough cast wall. I scream internally and try to block the sound out somehow. I find dinner parties challenging unless there’s a lot of background noise and dread seeing my in laws making yet another cup of coffee – seriously, who needs to drink that much!?
Have you ever even noticed the noise? Have you ever heard the sticky, wet, slurpy noise of someone masticating? (Yes, masticating. Get your mind out of the gutter!) Or that big gulp of juice for some inexplicable reason always followed by an, “Ah!” And a burp because they’ve swallowed so much air with it. It makes my skin crawl. I can’t concentrate on what they’re telling me because I’m too busy throwing mental daggers at them and working out how to commit murder, hide the evidence and get away with it.
Big noises don’t worry me. A crash of thunder, hand driers in the loo, fingernails down a blackboard – not the slightest shudder. But sit next to me on the couch with a drink and I will mentally slaughter you.
I’m aware that this makes me odd and people don’t understand it. I’ve been like this since I was a child and I’ve got so much grief over it. My sisters also worked out how to make the noise even when not eating and would torment me. It was so bad that I lay and screamed at one sister for ages one morning for repeatedly making the noise in the bed next to me. I got into a lot of trouble that day but how was I supposed to know that my sister wasn’t trying to annoy me but was instead taking her first epileptic seizure? I would only have been about eleven years old.
I’ve got good at masking it over the years. It’s quite anti-social to insist that people stop eating around you or to avoid all invites out for dinner/drinks. People also get paranoid around you once they know so I’ve developed coping mechanisms.
- eat if someone else is eating. The noise of you crunching your own crisps will drown out the noise of someone else doing it. The same goes for peanuts. Sadly I’m unable to bring myself to crunch on ice so I have to find another strategy for when my mum decides that it’s absolutely necessary to do this.
- leave the room. When mum crunches ice you can guarantee my sister will want to do it too because she can’t miss out on anything mum does. At this point I usually, “need the loo,” or I go to check on the children or go to investigate some suspicious (and non-existent) noise. I often get a “sore back” at a dining room table and need to go take a comfy seat when it all gets too much.
- make the blood rush through my ears. I can’t describe it but if I sort of increase the pressure in my head, it makes a noise in my ears. It doesn’t hide it all with the noisiest eaters but it does help.
For years I thought I was just an idiot (and perhaps that’s true) but I did eventually google it and found that I’m actually not alone in this – there are other weird people like me out there. In fact, I think it ties in to my son’s sensory processing issues – he gets his craziness from me, it would appear. So when I try to explain that he has an issue with sensory input – he was screaming today because it was windy – and the “experts” look on dubiously because he didn’t flip when other kids were playing a noisy game, I am at least able to explain that an irritating noise that winds you up really doesn’t have to be a loud noise.
So, if I ever meet you in the flesh, and I look like I’m not listening when you chat to me whilst eating a bag of crisps, now you know why. Does anyone else have a problem with noise? Anyone….?