Vision loss has been many things to me.  In the darkest times, it became the only thing — my albatross, my scarlet letter.  First, I damned the disease, then damned myself for having it.

I defined myself by its limitations.  I walked into a door and, therefore, I was dangerous.  I lost my job and, therefore, I was worthless.  The event, though painful, was less destructive than what I told myself, how I personalized the event.

Zen masters say that every event is neutral.  It’s not what happens to you, they say, but what you make of it.  But in my circle, nobody greeted my impending blindness with “You’ll be fine.  Just go with it.”  My people said, “Oh my God, this is awful!” and so did I.  Everybody implied, but didn’t dare say, that blindness is a fate just this side of death.

Over the years, I have learned a little about blindness and a lot about myself.  Blindness is the event.  What I do with that event makes the difference.  When my experience is filtered through cultural judgment and personal shame, my view is distorted.  I feel miserable.  And how’s that working for me?  The variable is my attitude, my thinking.  I find that my first thought, the default thought, is generally self-blaming, self-defeating.  That’s how I’m wired.  But I am finding the power to reject that thought, to move on to a neutral place from which to view the event.

Rejecting the first thought, pausing to replace it, is exhilarating but arduous.  My ultimate goal is to rewire my thinking, to find a new thought channel that will bypass shame and self-judgment and run on surrender and acceptance.  Yet I am incorrigibly myself, and good habits remain transitory.  Still, clarity leads to change.  There are many goals I have yet to achieve, but I do not consider myself unsuccessful.


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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7 Responses to Distortion

  1. Heather Morrison says:

    Your post echoed a lot of the things I’ve been going thru with the return of a chronic pain problem I thought I’d fixed in 2009. (This on top of RP and other stuff) I’ve found Buddhist meditation to be very helpful in teaching me to look at the event (in my case, the actual sense feeling of the pain) rather than the “story” that I tell myself about it. Two things have really helped me: Tara Brach’s book Radical Acceptance, and joining a local group (sangha) of Insight Meditation in Cleveland.
    Thanks for your postings on this blog. They help.

  2. love this post! Could not have said it better

  3. Modwyn says:

    Yes. Yes. Yes. Concise and powerful! Well said.

  4. Jean says:

    Well, you just explained the epitome of either we choose to white knuckle our way through this life as victims or *constantly* retrain our thoughts to be more compassionate toward ourselves! I bet you hit a button on everyone’s heart with this beautifully stated mantra!

  5. Nina says:

    Reminds me of a Daily Thought that resonated with me the other day: Every day you have to choose to find and cultivate your own happiness. – Reese Witherspoon

    • Jeff Flodin says:

      Thank you all for your replies. Heather, I can endorse the book “Radical Acceptance.” And, yes, this blogcomes from much time in the “victim” camp, with its attendant anger, fear and frustration. Realizing I have choices was and is liberating. Every morning, I have the choice to view the world as benevolent or look to pick a fight with every person I meet. Though I do not always go 100% to right thinking, the track record is getting better. Thanks again for your comments and please keep reading.

  6. Mark says:

    Hope – and each day continue to maintain your general health AND specifically your eye health (promote blood flow to your eyes, keep your lenses flexible by focus-training, relax your eyes with massage/meditation) and continue your research each day! Help each other

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