Tag Archives: self pity

Can You See Me? I’m Here In The Darkness. (Part 4)

24 Feb

I spent the last two days attending the Blind Cafe and then the 2013 TX Deaf-Blind Symposium. Because of these two events my perception of Oli and some preconceived notions of her abilities/disabilities have completely been swung around and turned on their heads.

Where I have focused a lot of my time on what she cannot do because of or what she will not do because of .I am now seeing exactly what she is capable of and what is possible if I give her the chance. Although I really felt like I had given her lots of opportunities to explore the world and chances to communicate, after talking with blind adults and listening to experts in the field, now I feel like. . . Holy shit! I still have been regarding her learning opportunities in terms of what I see as limitations because of her disabilities.

While I was sitting in the darkness at the cafe a striking realization came to me when the wait staff started answering questions. I hate to say that when I first see a person with a disability, I see a disability. I’m not supposed to see that right? Because my daughter has a disability? But I still do. I don’t like that about me and I really try not to. I realized that one of the things that was so wonderful about listening to the blind adults speak in the cafe was. . . I didn’t see a disability. I couldn’t! And it was great. All I heard were intelligent, funny, nice people speaking. And then I started thinking about what an advantage they have over all of the rest of us. They honestly get to know people in a fast, genuine, real way bypassing all of the visual judgemental nonsense that sighted people have.

Always aspiring to be one of those “good” people who doesn’t judge people by what they look like, what they’re wearing, or how clean they are (although I’ll bet blind people notice that one even quicker than me) I suddenly started thinking of Oli as. . .lucky. I stopped viewing blindness as something I would never want for her and although I still wish she wasn’t, I started looking at all of the good things about blindness. Like seeing people by way of her heart and judging them by the truth in their words and the honesty in their voices.

I had a moment when I was sitting in the dark, listening to the band play, that I was overcome by sadness. Silent tears poured down my face as I sat there thinking about how hard it was. Walking around not knowing where I was going, trying to find my food and not knowing what I was eating because nobody told me. Tasting food that I HATE and not knowing if I had a drink. Wanting to wipe off my hands and not being able to find my napkin. I felt helpless. I felt alone.

But as I sat there crying quietly so no one would know, I started to recognize that feeling. I remember spending a lot of my time feeling that exact same way in the first years of Oli’s life. Lost and alone, crying silently in the dark. I welcomed that feeling like an old friend and greeted her with open arms without even realizing who she is. Who she really is… is my own self pity. My own fear, ignorance, and judgement.

I opened my eyes, dried my tears and sat up straight in my chair.

NO! No more!

I will not allow this twisted friendship to continue! I will not welcome you into my heart! I will not pretend anymore that you will stay for a short visit and then let you live on my couch for years!

You Miss. . . are no longer allowed in my front door.

I am not helpless, weak, alone, unheard, unloved, or in this by myself. More importantly, this is not about me.

This is about Oli and she is none of those things either.

(Thank you for reading about my experience at the Blind Café! If you want to know more about it or want to know if it will be coming to a city near you go to www.theblindcafe.com The End.)

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I Thought I Was The Only One

12 Feb

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I began to think that all of the feelings in my heart about my daughter were terribly wrong. I was a loathsome, despicable mother for not just accepting who she was and continuing to battle with thoughts of alternate realities.

I began to hate myself.

I no longer believed that God had given her to me for a reason. Why didn’t He give her to an extraordinary mother who could just deal with this unexpected twist and not ritually beat herself up about what was wrong.

I felt small and worthless. Tired and overwhelmed. I felt like I was sinking on a slow leaking ship. I watched all of the other passengers confidently leap to safety while I remained steadfast, determined to somehow repair the damage or die trying. Everyone else was moving on, but I just couldn’t.

I loved her. I knew that I loved this little girl with all of my heart, but hated the fact that she had a disability. More importantly I hated that I hated that she was different.

I felt like I was all alone and that I was the only mother in the world with a special needs child who had experienced this sense of loss. I felt like I was the only one who grieved what might have been. Although I had all of these feelings in the beginning, as she got older they only intensified.

The weight of this emotional load began to get heavier and I grew weaker.

A dark and lonely road.

10 Feb

“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”
― Lois Lowry, The Giver

As we left the doctor’s office I picked up my sweet baby Oli. I picked her up amongst all of the questions and uncertainty that surrounded her. I held the top of her head to my face and inhaled the smell of fear that came with her.

Oh Oli, what am I going to do? How am I going to get through this?

We drove back home and again the isolation of that house surrounded me. Oli was three months old now and it was time for me to go back to work. I desperately needed to get out of that house, but at the same time I was afraid to leave her. She had become my whole world. Every moment had been consumed with thoughts about her blindness and how I was supposed to help her. Every night I was scouring the internet for information on how to raise a blind child. I had even purchased a few books, seeming to be about a 100 years old

There should be more updated books on this subject. If the child on the cover is sporting extremely short cotton shorts and his mom has the feathered Farrah Fawcett hair, the book is probably a little bit dated.

However old, these books accompanied me to my first day back to work. I sat at the table in the break room with a strong cup of coffee and my feet propped up on a chair reading this musty smelling book. Topics included: how to encourage your blind child to crawl, encouraging your child to explore their environment, the importance of providing your blind child opportunities to touch different types of textures. I sat there reading this book while my co-workers chatted and laughed around me.

I was no longer one of them.

Could they see the pain in my eyes as I tried to laugh with them? Could they hear my heart breaking when I stopped to look at recent photographs of their children tapped to their lockers? Did they notice my annoyance when they tried to talk to me about mundane things?

I wanted to shout, “Didn’t you hear? My child was born without eyes! Why are you afraid to ask me about her? Why are you so scared to congratulate me?”

Not all, but a lot of people at work simply ignored the elephant in the room and said nothing. This hurt more deeply than being asked what I had shoved into her eyes. I wanted someone to acknowledge my pain. I wanted someone to take me by the hand, lead me away from the isolettes and ventilators and just hug me. Feel my pain with me. Cry with me.

As my break ended, I closed the book and silently walked back into the NICU. I peeked under the blanket of a tiny preemie lying in her bed. Born addicted to drugs, this tiny baby was screaming in discomfort. Her mother was nowhere to be found.

Didn’t this mother understand what a precious gift a healthy baby was? Didn’t she appreciate that she had somehow drawn a lucky card in the genetics department and had given birth to a baby without a disability? Why would she damage her child by doing drugs during her pregnancy? Did she have any idea how much I would have given for my girl to be born without complications?

I was beginning to get even angrier.

This was a very dark and lonely road that I chose to travel down.

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