I don’t know about you, but there are some days when I am absolutely confronted with the reality of limitations with my vision loss. Moments where I go, “Yep, I am definitely visually impaired!” Sometimes, these experiences are comical.
For example, when I have searched and searched and searched for a particular notebook, only to find that it was RIGHT NEXT to that one space on the coffee table, just outside my line of vision. And I’ll sigh, relieved, and think, “How could I have missed that? It was obviously RIGHT THERE!”, and then I’ll chuckle and remind myself that I didn’t see it because of where my eyes were focusing, and I’ll remember that I have tunnel vision. And I’ll playfully remind myself, “Oh, that’s right! I am legally blind!”
All good fun. All just a part of the humorous happenstances that can come, when you’re living as a visually impaired person in a sighted world.
Yet there are also moments of pain and frustration that can’t be ignored. Especially in thinking about the impact that vision loss can have on interpersonal relationships.
My boyfriend, David, and I have been in a long-distance relationship for over a year now. I’ve been so fortunate that he drives two hours to see me every weekend, and on those fewer instances when I visit him, I have access to the Greyhound bus. Right from the beginning, I knew that I wanted to be with him, and that I wouldn’t accept my inability to drive as a reason to not pursue a long-distance relationship. For the most part, my inability to drive has been a non-issue in our relationship. David enjoys driving, and on those rare occasions when he doesn’t, we utilize Lyft, Uber or carpool with other friends.
Three weeks ago, however, when we were visiting my out-of-town Grandma for the weekend, David got sick. He was incredibly feverish and sleeping on the couch. “Don’t worry; I’ll get you back to Grand Rapids,” he assured me in the tone of familiarity and safety that I have come to love.
But I wished he didn’t have to. I wished that HE didn’t have to be the one to get ME back to Grand Rapids. HE’s the one who was sick that day! As I rushed around packing all of our things, I became so angry at my vision loss. How I wished I could drive the two hours home, while David slept, safe and secure in the back seat. “Everyone deserves that when they are sick,” I thought. “And I can’t give him that because of my vision.”
David drove us home that night, and slept through the next day, while I worried and fretted about his temperature and comfort. We’ve talked about it since then. David has been an incredible partner in providing the safe space to navigate my emotions as they pertain to my visual impairment. Like any relationship, we both have areas we can give to one another, based on our strengths, talents and abilities. I may not be able to drive David when he is sick, but I can make him a can of soup and provide comfort and support through my care for him.
Have you had a similar situation in which you were aware of how your vision loss could affect the interpersonal relationships in your life? How did you address this with those friends, co-workers, family members or significant other?
The Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired offers Support Groups, and a social worker on staff who can continue these conversations with you, and encourage you in the ways to have these conversations with your loved ones.
We’d love to hear your stories about this topic! Feel free to comment on our Facebook page facebook.com/abvimichigan