Do You Remember When You Realized…?
Do you recall when you realized you were different from other kids? I am talking to people who have been blind from birth and to those who began losing their sight early in life.
I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa when I was 7 years old. I was not told that I was losing my vision until I was eleven but looking back, I knew subconsciously that something was wrong with me.
I remember trying to play baseball and I could never hit the ball. I didn’t know it was my sight that was the problem. I remember wanting to catch a bullfrog tadpole like my friends but I just couldn’t quite make contact. I was lucky that my friends did not tease me about it. There were hundreds of subtle signs but nothing was said to me directly. There was just an uneasy feeling that I wasn’t very good at a lot of things.
I think it really dawned on me one Christmas. I don’t know exactly how old I was but I suspect I was around 6 or 7. I was with a church group and we were caroling in the town. It was dark. We were walking up to someone’s door. I was lagging behind the others because I couldn’t see when I slammed hard into a large tree. It was huge and there was no good reason for anyone to slam into it as I did. I knew in that moment that I was losing my eyesight and that I would be blind like my older sister. I think it became clear to everyone that night, though it was never discussed.
As I reflect on those early years, I have come to realize that the silent agreement not to talk about the elephant in the room was when I began to sublimate my feelings. I learned unconsciously how to be a master of denial.
Suppression of feelings and denial are natural coping mechanisms and they appear to work very well for a time. Eventually though there is no way to hide from the truth. The walls must come down or the personality will crumble under their weight. I had to make a conscious choice to clear away the barriers I created in early life. They did not serve me anymore. In order for me to thrive instead of just survive, I called upon therapists, body workers, and all kinds of support groups to show me the way out of the depression caused by hanging on to what was a false story. I was losing my vision and it had to be faced. It was not an easy journey and I am not all the way there yet but it is wholly worthwhile.
I am interested in hearing the stories of others who have traveled this road. Writing and reading these type stories help us wake up to ourselves. Please go to our Facebook Page and post comments or your own story.