My nephew and I were on our way down to the local beach and were driving slowly along a narrow road. We passed a woman running (I caught site of a bouncing pony tail). As we passed I noticed that he turned his head for another look. I asked, “Is she pretty? He just smirked and paused so I reckoned he wanted to say, ‘no’ but didn’t want to be rude. I asked, ‘Is she old?’ – Which for him is anything over 25 – and he said, ‘Yeah’.
I then told of how fortunate I am as I can choose what I want to see. If your eyes cannot recognise details then you can just make it up in your imagination. On a grumpy day I might imagine the runner as a starting-to-wrinkle, middle aged housewife escaping from the never-ending pile of dishes after the family Christmas chaos. On most days I would imagine a sprightly young girl full of the joys of life who has just gone for a brisk jog to experience the joy of fresh air, a healthy body and the hope of life.
A fun thing about low vision is that I get to make up what I want to see.
Just because a person has a disability doesn’t mean that they are a saint. Often the need for constant help can lead to immense selfishness or being very demanding. If people feel sorry for you they would often tip toe around your stubbornness instead of confronting you as they would with an able bodied person.
Just because I struggle doesn’t mean that I am a hero. I can get so determined that I refuse the help of loved ones. In some ways it is good because I keep independence, but it can also be hurtful in refusing genuine help. I have learned that my disability is not all about me . As family we have struck a deal. I am more open to ask for help and they let me struggle until I ask for it.
Hence the fine tightrope ……saint or sinner. It is a balance between keeping self reliance and yet being receptive of the love offered by others.
I have found that being teachable and knowing that every emotional gridlock is an opportunity to choose a peaceful outcome. For example, I have to choose to not stress when in a busy shopping centre. The sensory overload of lights, music, people and patterned flooring can be so confusing that I can easily become the wound-up women from hell. We plan that if it becomes too much, then I will ask a family member for their arm and I close my eyes and follow them. They them drop me off at a coffee shop to preserve their own sanity
So the answer to the question, ‘Saint or sinner?’ is neither…..it’s HUMAN.