How I See Myself

I have been given twenty-five years to absorb the idea, if not the fact, that I am gradually losing my eyesight.  I say I am losing my eyesight rather than losing my vision, because for me, there is a difference.  Eyesight is what in the world I see; vision is how I see myself in this world.

My eyesight sees the bus, or it doesn’t.  My vision is using the bus to enhance my independence, to increase my quality of life.  Losing eyesight is a biological process; losing vision is the death of faith and hope.

For years after I was diagnosed with RP, I still had enough eyesight to drive a car, see the sights, photograph the world.  All the while, I was terrified of the vision that, in time, I would become helpless, hopeless and useless.

My vision of life as a visually impaired person improved as I relearned life skills.  I thought I’d never learn to type 30 words per minute, now I type 40.  I was sure Braille was too difficult, now I label CDs, food containers and important papers. My ability to solve problems has been enhanced as my eyesight worsens.

Life still holds fear for me: loud noises, angry voices, strange places.  I feel panic when I’m lost and alone.  I rely more on less eyesight and I am afraid of becoming totally blind.  I want to think this won’t happen.  It makes me sad and angry to think that it will.  I want to make a deal: Please, just leave me with the eyesight I have, and I promise I’ll be good.

These days, when I think about what I might become, I do not see a helpless, hopeless or useless person.  I can keep my vision of myself as worthy, capable and creative.  Sometimes, I think it has taken every minute of twenty-five years for this lesson to sink in.  I might be a slow learner, but I’m grateful nonetheless.

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4 Responses to How I See Myself

  1. Pamela Berman says:

    I so know what you are talking about & I love the fact that I am not alone. Don’t get me wrong…I wouldn’t wish blindness on anyone, but it’s not all bad. Your words ring oh so loud & clear. Thank you for sharing….it’s nice to know that I am in good company, that’s all I mean:)

  2. Beth says:

    Had the very same experience: my ability to solve problems was enhanced by vision loss. Keep writing, Jeff. You’re good at it!

  3. Joe Biscontini says:

    I am a seeing friend of this writer, and I hung around quite a bit with him during the years he lived in the Philadelphia suburbs. We were neighbors, and we talked a lot — about baseball, about music, about relationships, then about Sherlock (his first dog, who became my new BFF). I still miss not having Jeff as a neighbor, but we talk by phone now and then. In his blog, you’re just beginning to get a sense of his insight, his humor, his realism and his courage. I hope he writes frequently, because I know that you, too, will soon come to treasure his writing, his creativity, and, above all, his vision. Way to go, Jeff.

  4. Sara Lynch says:

    Incredibly insightful and authentic….and refreshing and more.
    Thank you for your willingness to be so honest and revealing.
    With that comes hope for others to embrace another way of seeing their world too.

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