Coming to Terms with Fear
A Change I Could Not See

 

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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.

It did.

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.

AmyBovairdCoverAll 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!

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10 thoughts on “Coming to Terms with Fear

  • January 4, 2016 at 2:30 pm
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    Honest, forthright, and meaningful.

  • January 4, 2016 at 6:59 pm
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    My mother is dealing with losing her sight because of Macular Degeneration. She did the chin-in-the-win for a year and now she’s working through accepting it. It’s tough for me because I live 8-hours away, and this is my future.

  • January 4, 2016 at 10:23 pm
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    Amy, I have your book Mobility Matters, Stepping out in Faith and plan to read it in the next few weeks. Education is the best way to eliminate a persons fear as you stated the unknown is fearful. The sighted, the hearing, the ambulatory person takes for granted the gift of sight, sound, and mobility and often avoids the one that is lacking that ability..not because they don’t like them, but I think more out of what do you say or how do you treat them because of their situation. I am watching a Netflix TV show called Switched At Birth. It has deaf characters in the show and sign language is used by all actors. One episode in particular was produced in total silence with only sign language and subtitles. What a great experience for me to step into the world of silence….Your doing a great service for people by teaching us how it is to be without sight. We don’t need to worry that we will say the wrong thing, we just need to be ourselves and treat the person like we would anyone. As the bible says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God is using you in a mighty way. Keep it up!

  • January 4, 2016 at 10:29 pm
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    Dave,
    Thank you so much for taking time to read my post.
    So happy to have you in all of my writing communities. 😀
    Your comments always come from the heart. Love them!
    Amy

  • January 4, 2016 at 10:39 pm
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    Hi Susan,
    I’m not quite sure what you mean by this being your future. You mean worrying about her or inheriting it? There is a wonderful Large Print book out that offers practical tips for living with macular degeneration. It’s called MACULAR DISEASE: PRACTICAL STRATEGIES FOR LIVING WITH VISION LOSS by Peggy R. Wolf. I use it as a resource in my talks and people often purchase it online.
    Sorry you are so far away from your mother. It’s confusing to know how to help, and add distance to the mix and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
    My book, MOBILITY MATTERS, provides insights into the psychological aspects of coming to terms with vision loss. It will be coming out in audio shortly. Maybe your mother would be encouraged by listening to it. 🙂 Please check back and let me know how I can best help. Any question you have, just ask. Oh, another good website is VisionAware.com It also offers practical tips in living with vision loss.
    Amy

  • January 4, 2016 at 11:04 pm
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    First, thank you for purchasing my book, Jennifer!
    I have to watch that movie now that I know about it. That’s absolutely right. Just be yourself. 🙂
    I love that scripture you shared. it has helped me so many times.
    Thank you for your encouragement, too.
    Amy

  • January 8, 2016 at 8:58 am
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    Fear cuts like a knife. It strikes like the blow of an axe, at the most inopportune moments, like when I am about to go out with the new friends from my writing group the other night.
    I love your book, the lessons within, and your resilience. I just don’t know if what’s holding me back from writing my memoir, for example, is that I am still too afraid, but I don’t always think it must be essential to totally overcome all fear, as it may seem readers, the world wants. It does sound good and all, but I also think I am doing the best I can by acknowledgeing that fear isn’t necessarily completely overcome in life. If I admit it I can’t really wait for it all to fully discipate, not while I am just trying to live my life and move forward.
    What do you think? As someone who has written and faced a lot of fear and written about it?

  • January 8, 2016 at 8:20 pm
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    Hi Kerry,
    I love hearing that you’ve taken the plunge and are connecting with a writing group. Are you going out with them on nights you don’t meet. This group will make a huge difference in your writing, I predict. 🙂
    I don’t think it’s fear, exactly, that holds you back. If you’re anything like me, the problem is not knowing how to start or where to go once you’ve started. I don’t know how to make that easier. Maybe a writing coach? Maybe ask in your writing critique group who what they suggest. I know this is on your heart.
    But lots of little things can come first before you burst forth with your memoir. It took me several years to be ready. Four? Something like that.
    It isn’t necessary to overcome fear. I think the big thing is to remember there is an arc and whether it’s a memoir or a boo, you take the reader through most difficult /heart-wrenching events you’ve gone through, and then to a point of resolution. You always have to keep the story arc in mind. But balance that with not giving too much information.I had to balance that with how technical to write my cane training sessions.
    Amy

  • January 10, 2016 at 7:16 pm
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    We go out for drinks and appetizers after group so far.
    You are right. I don’t quite know where to start. I appreciate the advice from you, someone who has ventured farther than I have on the writing journey.
    True also that too many details can be a bad thing.. Hard to find that balance, but these are stories, like any other, and stories need an arc.

  • January 18, 2016 at 4:19 am
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    Hi Kerry,
    I believe the members of your critique group will teach you a lot about what is necessary for good writing, if they are experienced. It’s trial and error what works and what is too much detail. One of the big things I learned was that adverbs and adjectives need to be used sparingly. Instead of using an adverb, find a strong verb. My writing used to be peppered with adverbs but now I don’t use them much, except if it takes the place of several words and is more word-economical.
    What is wonderful, Kerry, is that it seems from your blogs at least that you are writing in some form every day. It is building up your writing muscles and discipline. Good for you!
    Amy

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