Why “never mind” hurts

Who knew two little words could be such daggers? If you are Deaf, deaf or hard of hearing you may understand what I mean.  When you are struggling to understand as it is… doing the impossibly hard job of lip-reading, asking for repetition, getting frustrated… then the other person tells you “Never Mind”… it feels like a dagger.

But why?

Why can a simple phrase hurt so much? Especially from the mouth of someone you care about, a friend, a parent, a child, a sibling, a husband, a wife, girlfriend, boyfriend… does the list need to go on?

To someone like myself who is deaf, who’s family doesn’t sign, or doesn’t sign that great… who lip-reads 99% of the time when around family and friends… to me it says, “You aren’t worth it,” “You won’t understand anyways,” “I’m too frustrated with trying to get you to understand,” “I just don’t care anymore”. I know this isn’t what they are trying to get across to me… but that is what I feel, what I hear when I see those two ominous words… NEVER MIND…

I’m trying, I’m struggling, and yes, I know it isn’t easy for you either… but I’m giving 110% here to try and understand, can’t you give me that little extra, just by rephrasing, or writing it down, so I don’t feel so left out, so isolated among you?

This is why never mind huts… because it makes me feel stupid, because it makes me feel left out, because it makes me feel worthless… it may not be your intention, but that is what happens.


My wonderful partner has stopped using the phrase as much… we have had countless conversations about why it hurts, what her intentions are… and I have come to understand part of why she uses the phrase occasionally. She said it is because what she was saying wasn’t actually important… what she was saying didn’t make sense, and she feels stupid when having to repeat a phrase, a word, a sentence that wasn’t important to begin with… this I understand. We have come up with a code word… Llama… to mean just what she was saying… so if it wasn’t important, or if it didn’t make sense, she can just say Llama… but occasionally, I’m starting to feel like Llama is just another way to say “Never Mind, its not worth it”. Although both “Llama” and “never mind” are thankfully rare occurrences in my home now, she has learned to sign, and it improves on a regular basis… and I… I am learning to hear, listen and comprehend again.


But I still don’t think she quite understands where I am coming from, Never Mind still hurts, even if it wasn’t important, it is still something she said… something that came out of her mouth. Never Mind is a common occurrence at work… I hear it at least 2x every day… from my co-worker, from clients… and it still is as if I were stabbed with a dagger of words every time it is said… is this what they think?

this is why never mind hurts so much, it may not make any logical sense to you, it may not be your intention when saying it to someone who is deaf, Deaf or Hard of Hearing… but that is how it feels… as if we aren’t worth it, as if we are stupid, as if we are less, as if you don’t care…


7 thoughts on “Why “never mind” hurts

  1. i understand the feeling… it’s true

  2. Just try to remember that if they are trying long enough to get to ‘nevermind’ they must really like you. people who don’t care just laugh.

  3. Interestingly enough, I can only think of one person I’ve said that too in ages and she’s fully hearing.

  4. Oh I know what you mean!! Although sometimes, I have had people repeat things 10 or 15 times, and when they finally throw up their hands and say, “never mind,” I feel just a little bit of relief, that I can relax, forget about trying to understand them, and move on with my life. But yes, most of the time, I feel the way you described in this post, like I’m not worth it to know what’s going on. Great post, very important stuff.

  5. This got me right where I live. This is exactly what I’ve wanted to say to all my hearing family and friends down through the years, and never could find the words to say.

    • Hi Tony, thanks for sharing this very true message. I have been wearing two hearing aids for a few years now and even then I have trouble hearing folk and try hard to read their lips. Just hearing the frustration in the other persons voice as they have to repeat themselves, or to watch the change in body language is distressing. I shudder to think that I may have sent those type of messages to others when I did have good hearing. I hope many hearing folk will read this article and learn to be more understanding and not wait until they possibly may have the problem themselves. From your friend Jan Denton.

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