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.