Public transportation has had a huge impact on my ability to live an independent life, as I am sure it has the same effect on hundreds of others in our community who are living with visual impairments. But for all its imperfections and frustrations, I’m thankful for it.
At times when public transportation is not available, friends, family and loved ones have always “gone the extra mile” (pun TOTALLY intended) to help me get where I want to be. And they will never know the full depth of my gratitude for that.
Yet, for all these avenues of independence, there are moments when I feel trapped by my inability to drive. Literally. Trapped by this visual impairment. And my heart aches so deeply because of it. The pain is suffocating. The pain that I can’t be where I want to be, when I want to be there. My heart is so willing, but my eyes are unable.
Tonight is one of those nights.
I don’t write this to invite you to a pity party. I write this as a reminder to myself (and to anyone dealing with chronic setbacks) that no matter how independent I feel on my best days, there will always be, I think, a mourning for things that cannot happen because of my visual impairment. And that’s OK. It is called “Vision Loss”, after all.
For the most part, I’m incredibly optimistic about having a visual impairment. It took a while, but I am even comfortable with talking about “being blind”. My very nature is one of sunny altruism, and I never want that to change. I have amazing friends and family, and I love where I work and the people I work with. For the most part, my life has not been negatively affected by a visual impairment. And I have not allowed myself to feel “negative” about being visually impaired, because life is really, really good!
Yet there is still vision loss. And, even though I have known this visual impairment for my entire life, sometimes the profundity of that loss hits me like news of a death, and I am angry and saddened. It is a loss of spontaneity. A loss of complete autonomy. A loss, on some level, of dreams that I envision for my life, both now and in the future. Dreams that involve getting in a car and driving, whenever I want.
And so, I grieve. I am learning that, on some level, I will always have moments like this. Seasons of my life will change, and so too, will the limitations and lamentations. I’m finally accepting this truth. I am finally accepting that it’s OK to have those moments when I am sad or even angry about my visual impairment. We all have those days. We are, after all, only human!
What do you do in those moments when you feel frustrated by your vision loss, and upset by the challenges that it can bring to your life? Do you allow yourself to experience these feelings, or like me, have you told yourself that you shouldn’t feel bad or guilty or angry? Do you turn to others for support…others who have visual impairments? Or do you find comfort in talking with people who do not share the same experience? Where do you find your source of encouragement?
All thoughts and insights are warmly welcomed!