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?