Coming to Terms with Fear
A Change I Could Not See
For years, I feared losing my vision. But I learned to adapt. My vision loss didn’t change my career or any of my goals. I just approached them in another way. My vision loss was more of a nuisance than a deterrent. I made sure it wasn’t apparent. In other words, I didn’t tell many people.
Losing vision over time put me in denial. Life wasn’t really going to change substantially. I was in control.
I didn’t care if someone thought I was clumsy. So what? Oh, and hey, lots of people didn’t drive. That’s why there were taxis. (Luckily, I could afford them since I lived overseas).
That was the way I thought.
Until suddenly, back in the United States, I couldn’t carry on my everyday tasks. Fear struck.
My vision had become substantially worse.
I had come to a crossroads. Something had to give.
The first step in changing my outlook was to seek help.
I cannot tell you how difficult that was. It took me a couple of years, in fact. But two new simultaneous teaching jobs forced me to into a decision. The State has programs that offer help to visually-impaired individuals.
A trained counselor can discuss job training options and set up an employment plan. Included in the plan is an experienced support team who can maximize resources and provide supplemental training to help a person who is vision-impaired reach that job goal and gain (or regain) independence The team usually consists of a computer technician, a rehabilitation instructor, who, along with the client, assesses difficulties at home and strategizes how to overcome these problems. A key resource member is the Orientation and Mobility specialist. He or she teaches the necessary techniques one needs to become independent outside the home. With the proper training, guidance and resources, it’s possible to move forward and have a successful. meaningful life with vision loss.
Ultimately, as in any other situation, attitude is at the crux of independence and success. Not attitude as in ‘Dude, I got the ‘tude! Get outta my way!’ That’s anger and bitterness. Maybe even fear.
I’m talking, developing self-confidence, flexibility and a positive outlook. This, and for me, faith, determines success.
Sound like I’m reciting something from a brochure? Actually, this is my life strategy. As I explained, for awhile I was off kilter. Like others facing my future, when it came down to “going public” with my vision loss, I feared people’s responses. I feared loss. I feared this would rock my world.
I had lived all over the world teaching English as a Second Language. Suddenly, I couldn’t even walk down the street without tripping over something or falling.I thought no one noticed when, in fact, no one missed it – but me.
I learned I was only fooling myself.
This is the topic of my first book, Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith. That book chronicled my journey from denial to reluctant acceptance of being … blind. The cause: a hidden genetic eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP, for short).
How would I continue teaching if I couldn’t see?
My job counselor at Blindness and Visual Services put me on the right track. But by far, my most challenging task was to learn how to use a long white cane. For me, and for most people with this disease, using a cane is terrifying.
For many, a long white cane is synonymous with blindness and dependence. They may never accept it because there is a perceived stigma attached to it, often held in place by both society and the individual.
It took time to get past those misconceptions.
I was trained by a skillful and, let me add, one of the few completely blind orientation and mobility instructors in the United States. Not only did he change the way I viewed myself, he changed my perception of blindness. He modeled attitudes that tapped into success. Learning to use a cane meant I could get around again and overcome my fear.
All this can be found in my exciting memoir, Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith. It’s honest, humorous, full of faith, and yes, definitely, adventurous. You will encounter my fears but also my optimism and resilient spirit as I poke fun at my situations.
To hear an audio sample e of it, click HERE.
I want to get real with you now.
Have you ever been in denial about something? Small or big. Something others noticed but you couldn’t see because you didn’t want to face the truth? Did you ever confront it? How so?
You have just read “Coming to Terms With Fear” by Amy L. Bovaird. Copyright January 3, 2016. Please take a moment and leave a comment. Thanks!