As my eyes failed me, I found that I could not even admit to myself that I was going blind. I remember in an email to my fiancee/now wife, I referred to it as “my problem”. Typing the word was scary.
In public, I pretended to be able to see. When I would knock into something, I played it off as inattention or I came up with some reaction to save face. While I may not have been able to see the elephant in the room, my other senses could not mask the stink it made in my life.
With my friends in public, I would say, “I’m visually impaired.” Having watched the levels of denial and dysfunction, a friend said, “Say you are blind! When you tell them that you are visually impaired, that confuses them. They don’t understand. You have to say you are ‘blind’ first.”
I had to accept those words of truth. There were lots of struggles both emotionally and visually.
I believe I resisted using the word blind as as it implied helpless or hopeless. My deepest fear was to be insignificant.
At one point, I was able to create a moving graphic that would demonstrate a basic thumbnail sketch of what blindness was for me. It was strange to have the ability to see enough to make a digital representation of my vision but lacked the ability to see much at all.
I laugh under my breath when someone refers to me as having a “visual challenge” instead of blind.
In society, blind is never good. “I may be married but I’m not blind”, “Justice is blind”, or “I’m not blind to the facts” are some of the phrases people use to make a point.
Even when used as a positive, there is another intention. “Blind Faith” or “Blind Luck” still are not positive.
Blindness is not binary. Vision has a deep spectrum of abilities to a lack of sight completely. When blind is used, the word refers to a total inability. I was blind yet I could see. I could not describe what I saw with the vision that remained.
You can call someone blind and it is not offensive. Feel free to use words like “see” or “watch”. I watch TV or go see a movie. Movies are experiences these days. It took me a while until I told my wife I wanted to go see a movie. I went for her sake.
The removal of those words that entail the ability to see made it feel like a death of a loved one. There are words that are scary to hear like cancer, suicide, Alzheimer’s, or Multiple Sclerosis. There is a power from admitting the truth. There is an ownership over the meaning of the word. The fear stemmed from, “Maybe if I say the word, it will be permanent.” My eye sight was bad no matter how it was stated. For me, the veil insulated me until I was ready to admit reality.
I am blind. The process and journey to acknowledge my strengths, weakness, disabilities, and abilities Only Makes Me Stronger.