In the Land of Pretend

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.

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12 Responses to In the Land of Pretend

  1. deidreralph says:

    One of the hardest fact about loosing ones sight is the self esteem issue, if we think we are broken, we are going to find it hard to convince others that we are not. Educating the public the employers and the educators that we are worthy and valuable members of the human race and need to be treated with equality, is so important to me, the part we need to play is believing it ourselves. Learning to understand our own needs, having a good support network, learning new skill and setting realistic goals that are achievable, after all there is no point in setting ourselves up for failure. We are never going to become truck drivers. It sounds pretty easy really but there are times when the blackness creeps in and self doubt rises it ugly head, but some of my dearest friends suffer the same thing and they are sighted. so self doubt is a natural human condition not reserved just for people with disabilities. I have to ask for what I need to achieve what I want, this is something that isn’t easy for someone who has always lived a pretty independent life up until blindness, but it is something that I have to except and do graciously. Keep up the good work Jeff

    • Debra says:

      Responses to In the Land of Pretend
      deidreralph thank you for sharing this. From the outside looking in, you would be amazed how how truely blind “sighted people” can be. It really does help my situation to have found this site and this insight. Thank you all.

  2. Jeff flodin says:

    Hi deidreralph, and thank you so much for your comment. Every day as a challenge and an opportunity. Some days wear me out. Don Henley wrote in a song: “Though I heard a wise man say that every dog will have its day/He never mentioned that these dog days get so long.” Other days pass effortlessly. I think the effortless days are the ones I am most honest.

    • deidreralph says:

      you are welcome Jeff, the good days will come more often, but I agree that the not so good days are exhausting, , I call them my low energy days. These are the days were we need to ask for support, these are the days that I normally want to hide away, but no longer will let myself as I can fall into my plom mood (poor little old me) and that mood can be so destructive. I can usually tell when the low energy days are building and this is the time I like to do something nice for someone else it takes the focus of me and helps to raise my own self esteem, yes there is always a pay off for doing something good, pleasure vise pain. When I read your blog today it touched a cord with me as I remember the early days of blindness and I once again felt the sharp edge of the sword of self doubt lack of self esteem and dwindling confidence. We all experience life and grief in different ways, we will have our day Jeff, be sure of that, we will leave our mark on the world, be strong when you have the strength to be and cry when you don’t, what ever you do is ok. Thanks for your blog

  3. Fred says:

    I must be pretty wierd as I always make my blindness obvious to all. My cane is my white badge of courage.

    • susie says:

      Jeff, I appreciate your honesty and courage to write about this. I’m with you Fred, on our cane being our “badge of courage.” Before I became blind I thought I had courage but being blind takes more courage than I had then.
      Accepting one’s self and having a feeling of self worth, is what’s important for all of us

    • Debra says:

      well im glad to see some are “weird”. My husband spends ALL his time pretending to be normal and getting very angry when he’s “found out” by eith a blunder or a near blunder or a need for assistance.

  4. bethfinke says:

    Even though I can’t see, I can tell people stare at me. So sometimes I do pretend I can see just to enjoy a moment when I’m not being watched. At the grocery store, for example. I don’t always bring a white cane, and my Seeing Eye dog stays home. Mike leads the cart and I hold on behind. If he leaves to run and get something we forgot to pick up in the last aisle, I stay parked with the cart and start picking up the cans or whatever is on the aisle where I’m parked. I look at the items as though I can read the label. It’s kind of fun, really. I feel like Walter Mitty or something.

  5. Andrea says:

    Your beautifully written essay touched me to the core. You encapsulated my 30 year struggle to totalty accept myself as visually impaired. Thanks for your honesty.

  6. Chip says:

    Keep up your written, because it is bringing out thoughts that I hide in my head, and they need to said.
    You are so right about pretending.

  7. Anita Adkins says:

    Hello. Just ran across your blog, and I wanted to tell you that it is great to listen as someone shares their frustrations and joys of blindness. I have been blind since birth, and I write a blog about blindness as well. I hope it will inspire blind people just as your blog does. My blog started because I learned many of my skills by teaching myself, and I wanted to learn many more, but had no place to just look up the answer to one of my questions, such as does this color match that color or how exactly I was supposed to know step by step how to brown hamburger. Just to make it interesting, the Blindness Blog also discusses my other views on topics related to blindness. Again, it was interesting reading several of your blogs. Merry Christmas. Anita

    • Jeff flodin says:

      Hi Anita, How do we access your blog? Also, check out Beth Finke’s blog if you haven’t already. It’s at Jeff

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