My Own Worst Enemy

When I received the prognosis of blindness, I got really angry. I piled my cameras and my baseball mitt and my golf clubs on a picnic blanket and had a yard sale. If I could no longer be the prize-winning photographer, All Star shortstop and enjoyably poor golfer, I wanted nothing to do with them.

I blamed God, fate and flawed chromosomes for my losses. But before those I blamed stole my pleasure, I deprived myself of the same. I struck the first blow and got in the last word. “You can’t take that away from me. It is mine and mine alone to sacrifice.”

Forfeiting the instruments of pleasure was just the beginning. In no time, I forfeited the pleasure. Relaxing, candlelit dinners had morphed into anxious hours in hell. Why cheer at the ball game when you can’t see the ball? If a pastime became more painful than it was pleasant, I bagged it.

I clung to familiar surroundings. My house, my couch, my TV, my Budweiser. Alone in bad company. In the rare instances I became sociable, say, at a party, I sat in one spot and hoped people would come to me. When they didn’t, I said, who needs you anyway?

My ship was going down. I stayed at the helm. My wife, exhausted from seven years of swimming against the tide, had the sense to save herself. She climbed into a lifeboat and, poof, she was gone

In the first decade of my vision loss, I became my own worst enemy. I didn’t know that then. I thought blindness was the enemy. I thought I was doing my best or, at least, the best I knew. I chose anger and isolation to medicate my fear. I chose the wrong medicine. Healing began the moment I shared my pain honestly and openly and asked for help. It was the best lesson I have ever learned.

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4 Responses to My Own Worst Enemy

  1. bethfinke says:

    Had a similar experience: after losing my sight I had a friend help me take all my photo albums apart. I mailed the pictures to the people photographed, figured they could still appreciate the pictures if poor, poor Beth couldn’t anymore.
    Now I wish I had those photo albums, a sighted friend could pour over them with me, describe the photos and I likely would remember their beauty, their colors.
    Ah, well. I guess as long as we *learn* from our mistakes…

  2. deidreralph says:

    Have you heard the story of the two men sharing a room in hospital one had his bed by the window, everyday he described what he saw from the window, the children playing in the park the sunshine the fresh bloom of a rose, the guy in the second bed was so jealous, when the first man was discharged the other men asked to be moved to the window and to his surprise from the window all he saw was a brick wall. Being blind can be a brick wall but with imagination we can live in the garden of Edan.

  3. Sara says:

    Your honesty and raw vulnerability are refreshing and the lesson is absolutely applicable in so many of life’s traumatic and life changing situations.

    Thank you for the insight.


  4. Kevin J says:

    You have described just about every client that I have worked with that lost their sight later in life. They get rid of all their hobbys as they believe that there is not a life after blindness. However, hopefully most of them will realize that there is life after blindness and while it may be different, it can still be good. I am a new comer to your blog and I must say that I have enjoyed the many posts you have created. Thank you for sharing. I have been using many of them with my clients in hopes that they realize the feelings, emotions, and experiences are common to those who have lost their sight. I think it hits closer to their hearts and minds when it is coming from another blind person versus their sighted O&M.

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