Point of View

I approach my Jalapeños in the Oatmeal blog from three points of view.  First, I am blind.  Second, I am a writer.  Third, I am a social worker.  These three points of view combine to form the “I” of my life and of my narrative.

I believe that writing is a therapeutic form of self-expression.  The process is cathartic and the product is concrete.  Transforming thoughts and feelings into words produces a sense of accomplishment, be it a private journal entry or a story for publication.  “I wrote this, in my own words, by my own hand, from my own heart.”

Sharing my message with others is the best way I help myself deal with vision loss. This narrator continues to evolve from victim to survivor, from being out of control to regaining the power of choice in life decisions. I find meaningful the words of a Holocaust survivor: “The survivors do not only need to survive so that they can tell their story, they need to tell their story in order to survive.”

Losing my eyesight has made me humble, it makes me right-sized.  Intellectual arrogance suggesting this social worker would simply slide through grief and loss was swept away by the emotional whirlpool of the blindness experience.  Learning denial firsthand was and remains a powerful and valuable life lesson.  Recognizing anger and depression, bargaining and acceptance as normal and necessary humanizes what was once only abstract.

I am asked, “Doesn’t writing about all this only make it hurt more?”  Not for me, but perhaps for you, the reader.  If you feel pain, write about it.  Writing helps me sort things out.  It’s calming and meditative.  It helps me collect my scattered thoughts and focus.  It’s often the first step to talking about things.  It’s how I connect with myself, with the people in my life and with you.  When you feel the crashing weight of blindness, when you feel unbearably alone and fearful, what else will do but to reach out and connect?

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About secondsense

Second Sense works in partnership with our clients, providing support and training to help them move beyond vision loss to an active, productive life full of possibilities.
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10 Responses to Point of View

  1. Reed says:

    Love you – Love reading you – Reed

  2. Suzanne says:

    I only recently discovered and began subscribing to your blog. I’m not blind, but am gradually losing my sight to MD. It’s a scary because even though I can still see, I know its slipping away. I appreciate your willingness to share; I appreciate reading the thoughts of someone else dealing with vision loss – the ups, the downs, whatever. Thank you.

  3. Heather Potter says:

    Thank you, that makes complete sense.

  4. Colt says:

    This is what I feel most: I have RP and the days are more dark or full of glare more and more every day. I’ve not written in several months as I don’t see the point, but I’m in a particularly bad place at the moment and I need to talk. Every day is getting harder to see and I’m very angry and hard to live with — my wife is great but I know it’s not easy for her with my moody ways. I’m blind in my left eye and I have 3 degrees of central vision in my right eye, and this 3 degrees is crappy unless the light is picture perfect (you know, it has to be indoors pretty much with just the right concentrated controlled lighting, or outdoors in just the right spot in the yard at the right time of day, etc, etc; otherwise, it’s all dark or glare, or both I guess. I’ve loved art my whole life and I used to pairt. About 30 days ago my wife and I went to see a Joan Miro exhibit of work from the last 20 years of his life. It was very moving. Although it was hard to see, I could see enough to know this is what I’m going to try and do now: start painting again — real thick paint and emotion and get it all out on the canvas. Period. That’s the only way. Life is so short and sad, mostly. But I didn’t always feel this way, and with painting I can feel better again. This writing helps. Jeff, I think that mostly life sucks. And then some days it’s the most beautiful thing in the world. I wish I had the eyes of a hawk. I wish.

    • Colt, your comments are relatable to us all. Adjusting to our ever-changing RP is difficult, but not impossible. I try to remind myself that this is a livable disease versus those that are not. Life doesn’t have to end for us, it just has to change. But I am not a philosopher. I am also an artist! Once I had to stop working a job I held for almost 18 years due to vision loss, I took my painting more seriously in order to keep my sanity and sense of self. It was the best thing that could have happened. I too need a very controlled workspace and I relish the quiet “me” time. I have an art website if you’d like to check it out at http://www.artbystelladg.com . Hey, if I can do it, so can you!

      • Colt says:

        Stella, thank you for your encouraging words and for your artist’s statement and for your work –it’s very good. I believe I’m most at peace now when I’m painting (if it’s going well) — I hope it will be for me now. Thank you again for what you said to me.

    • Suzanne says:

      Colt, I hear you. I’ve been an artist my whole life, and never envisioned going low vision. I can still see, but the MD is advancing. I deal with it by working in my studio every day. The more I “make” the less fearful and frustrated I feel. I paint less and collage more, I starting taking ceramics classes…I forced myself out of my comfort zone, and after a few months I found my work is different, but it’s good. So I encourage you to keep creating. Do it every day. Don’t judge the results, just keep going.

  5. Beautifully and clearly written words that made me feel. Feel the process, the pain, the loss, the anguish that transmits easily to others who have similar situations within their life. Yes, for the very reasons that you describe “to write” helps release these feelings, to visualize them and to understand them. I am so thankful to have come across your writings through a friend that forwarded them on. I thank them, I thank you! It has made a great deal make a great deal more sense. I too will spread the “written” word that you have put down.

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