In the year plus that I've read other people's personal misophonia accounts in blogs, articles, and discussion boards, the topic I'm about to talk about is one part of my life where I've experienced misophonia triggers but I have yet to have read anyone else who has shared similar experiences - triggers during worship situations. Now, I know that some topics are taboo (like talking about politics/religion/marriage/children when going out on a date), but I'm hoping that people will see what follows as just an extension of my relaying other trigger encounters I experienced in public, not as my trying to "preach" religion.
Let me preface this by saying I am not religious at all. I have a religion that I (loosely) follow, but usually just on high holidays - where I see it as a time to reconnect with family or have some time to meditate to myself about things happening in my life. Those are the rare times that I make an effort to go to services. Being so far from the rest of my family (1100+ miles), most times if I do wind up remembering to go, I go by myself - not knowing a person there, but at least I'm able to say to my family that I went. Yesterday was the first time I've attended a service since beginning this blog last year, and after thinking about everything I experienced last night... I almost wonder if my sensitivity to misophonia triggers over the years is one of the reasons why the thought of going to a service is never on the forefront of my brain...
Yesterday I arrived just as services were about to begin. I've only been to this place of worship two or three times since moving to the Midwest, and usually I try to sit at the back of the balcony area. (Only once did I ever sit in the main area, and I remember not only sitting towards the front, I even had to move to another location in the first pew because someone was creating a trigger that annoyed me.) I realized while sitting there last night that my choice of that location was another instance of my being proactive to
carefully, and thoughtfully, figure out where would be the best place to sit to minimize my exposure to triggers. Unfortunately, arriving so late meant my options were very limited. The back row end seat (my preferred location) was already occupied, so I went further down the row - about equidistant with the middle of the bench where there was a small wooden divider. A few minutes later, a young boy came up with his mother and, noticing that there weren't many other available seats, I could tell that he was eyeing the back row where I was sitting. I slid down all the way to the divider where - on the other side - another young boy sat. The bench filled up with the rest of their family and another family with young children filled the row in front of me. As soon as the boy sitting to my left started swinging his legs - that were too short to reach the ground - I knew it was going to be a LONG night. I had my hair in a ponytail, because it had been so hot over the past couple of summer weeks, so I let my hair down to try to be a natural visual block to the "pendulum" trigger motion. To my right, mothers stroked their daughter's hair, so I wound up shifting the part of my hair a little bit so that both sides of my peripheral vision was blocked. I then began to hear the hissing "s" sounds of people whispering all around me, that cut through the amplified voice of the spiritual leader over the speakers, so I put one earplug in so that I could still hear the spiritual words being said during the service. Unfortunately, the right ear that was still exposed was on the side of the other young boy who wound up rubbing his pant legs throughout the service - the sound of which is another trigger of mine.At one point, the mother sitting next to the young girl sitting directly in front of me put her arm around the girl and started stroking and twirling her hair. Trying to adjust my peripheral hair blinders wasn't going to be an option to solve that situation. Given that a couple of times I felt like the spiritual leader was looking straight at me (and as a redhead who stands out like a beacon in crowds - there was a strong possibility that he was...) front hair blinders was definitely not an option, unless I wanted to look like cousin "It" from the Adams Family.It was at that point that I closed my eyes to try to focus on what the leader was saying, hoping that people wouldn't think that I had fallen asleep. I could feel myself clenching my teeth, trying to ignore the sound of pants being rubbed or the hisses of whispers, but it was little use. Instead of having a lot of visual triggers and somewhat muffled sound ones, with my eyes closed... Now I was experiencing more tactile triggers. I could feel the back of the wooden bench shift forward and backward as people moved around. I could feel the triggers of the little boys kicking (or tapping with their hands) as the vibrations traveled down to my skin through the hard wood. I couldn't focus on the service. I could only struggle trying to keep my mind calm despite the bombardment of triggers around me.If you asked me what inspirational things were said during the sermon, I honestly wouldn't have a clue. I think I remember one sentence at the beginning of the speech, but the 15-20 minutes of elaboration went in one ear and out the other (if it went in the first ear at all...) At one point, halfway through the service, as I was listening to the choir sing, I looked at a balcony space behind the altar, where I assume the choir and musicians usually sit during other events. I thought to myself how lovely it would be to be up there, without the restless crowd around me.Finally the service ended and I started to make my way back downstairs to head to the car. Of course, the final song that was sung by the choir was a catchy one and I could hear the echos of someone whistling the tune as I walked down the plaster walled spiral stair. I must have looked riddiculous exiting the stairwell into the lobby area with my fingers in my ears, but I had little choice. Whistling is my worst trigger to begin with... Multiply that by an echoing stairwell and my head was about to explode. As I squeezed my way through the crowd to the side hallway that led to the back entrance where my car was, I noticed that there was a small chapel room with what looked like a closed-circuit TV focused on the altar. I might have to keep that area in mind for future high holidays, especially if there aren't many people using it then.