When will I ever learn? I still pretend I can see better than I can. When I feel discomforted or vulnerable, I act busy and important. I check my cell phone, retie my shoelace, or inspect the dog’s teeth for spinach. My goal is to appear independent, to “pass for sighted” in the eyes of the whole, wide world. What I fail to see is that by pretending, I just look weird, act falsely and fool no one.
Pretending comes naturally. We all do it, whether sighted or not. Losing my eyesight just provided new focus for “my-wanna-be” life. As my blind spots grew, I became ashamed of my new deficiency. I wanted to show people there was nothing wrong with me, or, if there was, I could handle it just fine all by myself.
I failed to connect the dots between denial and pretending. And, denying vision loss, I played the ultimate fool. Still, I hate to pathologize my behavior. Denial is a defense mechanism that arises automatically and unconsciously; pretending is how I dress up denial for public display. By passing for sighted, I sought to maintain my eroding self-esteem, and to buttress my faltering confidence.
At the root of my denial was, and is, fear. Fear of failing, of losing face. Yet, in my efforts to protect my image, I deny my real self the chance at honest expression.
My need to save face has decreased as my eyesight has dwindled. The white cane and the big, black dog have blown my cover. Today, I’ll ask that one of the core beliefs that hinder progress be removed – the belief that the blind are less than the rest, segregated by diminished ability, competence and value.