I’m on the verge of another breakthrough.
I’ve been moving more. Exercising a lot; eating what I need to eat. I’ve felt great. I even managed to climb a 40 foot rock wall– a goal of mine since I was first diagnosed with diabetes. I tried last year. I failed. I was humiliated, which wasn’t helped by my boss using it as an opportunity to publically insult me and question my efficacy as a teacher. This time, though, I did great.
My impending breakthrough isn’t about weight loss or anything like that. It’s not even really about reclaiming my childhood.
It’s about blindness.
I’ve always held myself to a certain standard as a blind person. Every time I stand up to move, my skills are instantly put to the test. Can I walk down my hallway at full speed and turn without clipping my shoulder on the corner? Can I reach out and grab the handle of a door without groping around? Can I remember where my friend parked so that I don’t have to walk behind them as they move toward their car? Can I walk beside someone at all, or am I going to veer 6 inches to the side and tangle my cane in their legs? Am I going to look like an idiot who doesn’t know how to move?
In other words, what completely understandable mistake is going to make me feel like a total failure in the next 30 seconds?
I’m blind. I can’t see a single thing. I have absolutely no idea what a person’s doing across the room, and unless you speak, I have no clue what you’re feeling. I’m dependent upon people for reading print, for driving, for finding new places, for walking in front of me towards their car…
I don’t know what I look like. I don’t know how anyone else looks, either. I don’t know if I look like a little kid, a pudgey hobbit– nothing. I have no idea if the friend who picks me up from work is dressed like a two-bit hooker. I’m always second-guessing myself and never coming up with anything concrete.
Of course I get overwhelmed by vacuuming my house. Every time I do, no matter how well I scanned the floor with my hands, I always manage to suck up a slip of paper or a rubber band. Vacuuming is a constant series of tiny traumas!
I. Am. Blind.
To some degree or another, I’m always going to be dependent upon others for basic things, and some basic things will be more difficult because I can’t see them. It’ll be more expensive for me to get around, it’ll take longer, I’ll have to do it on other people’s schedules, etc. It’s harder for me to go grocery shopping, it takes longer, I don’t know what else is in the store, etc. It’s harder for me to learn a new way of preparing food, I can’t see videos on youtube, most websites are inaccessible, etc.
Life… life really is harder for me, sometimes. It just is. Less convenient, anyway.
Would I trade it? Not for the world! I love being blind. I love the adventure of it. But… do I? I mean, sometimes… sometimes it can feel like too much.
People treat you differently when you’re blind, too. They’re overly helpful, condescending, stand-offish, and they assume you’re an absolute moron. Which is only confirmed the first time you make a mistake. Or worse, the first time you surprise them by *not* making a mistake. I’ve been told more than once, “Oh my God, you can tie your shoes? That’s just amazing!”
I’m different. Blindness has made me different. Alien. “Other.”
I’m blind, gay, short, fat, diabetic, and Buddhist. I’m constantly finding ways in which the world around me is wrong or untrustworthy. I’m never comfortable, and when I am, I feel unworthy and I’m certain that the other shoe is going to drop at any second.
I… feel… unworthy.
I. FEEL. UNWORTHY.
I Feel unworthy!
I feel ashamed! I feel embarrassed! I feel alone! I feel angry! I feel like I don’t belong!
I feel like I don’t belong.
I don’t know how to ask for help. I see it as a sign of weakness in myself. Asking for help is the same as letting down myself and those who I represent. Needing help, not being perfect, not being a superhero, being weak, being vaulnerable– *PROVING,* beyond a shadow of a doubt that I *should* feel ashamed and I *should* feel like a failure — It hurts.
It really, really hurts.
And I’ve never let myself feel that pain.
And now… now I don’t know how.