Originally Posted: July 12, 2011
Though it wasn’t intentional, I grew up with my blindness firmly ensconced on the
figurative back burner. I certainly had some opportunities which were only given
to me because I was blind. I played on a teeball team consisting of players with
various physical and mental disabilities, accompanied by their more able-bodied “buddies.”
I’m not sure I ever got the hang of the game. Playing “in the field” seemed like
some mysterious purgatory where I hovered around aimlessly with everyone else and
was occasionally given a ball to “throw home”, though my house was miles away. When
I batted, I hit the tee more than the ball, and I took “getting out” as a personal
insult. What, did someone say sore loser?
Then there was the horseback riding program called Stars, which, again, I was able
to participate in because of my disability. I loved the horses, though I enjoyed
petting more than riding, and I hated the “games” our instructors lassoed us into
playing. They involved such things as swerving the horses around cones, picking up
objects from one bucket and putting them into another bucket, and balancing various
objects on plastic spoons while our horses schlepped us around the arena. (I’m beginning
to see a pattern here. Games: not my thing.)
Yet there were many more things I did which had no basis in whether or not I could
see. I took ballet. Tired of my teacher telling me my feet sounded like elephants,
I switched to tap, where elephantine footwork was allowed. I played the piano. I
took swimming lessons in the summer. I played mischievously with my best friend who
lived just three houses down the street. Though I got a late start, I rode my bike
around the neighborhood. I went sledding down the icy steps of our backyard “fort”
in the winter and conveniently “forgot” to tell my mother, though she figured it
out. I didn’t think too much about being blind, and when I did, it was usually in
a positive way. Being the only blind kid in my classes in elementary school made
me special.
Middle and high school saw a decrease in my “just cause you’re special” popularity.
To be honest, as cool as I might have been for being able to read Braille, my timid
personality and total lack of interest in preteen fashion put me near the bottom
of the proverbial pecking order. As I grew older, things I used to enjoy for fun
also became things I told myself I must “stick to.” A lot of high school seemed to
be a big exercise in “proving myself.” To whom, you might ask? To this day, I am
most inclined to believe that I was trying to prove myself to myself. I obsessed
over my grades. I initially joined show choir just to see if I could, though I did
end up loving it. It seemed the more activities I participated in, the “better” I
was in my eyes.
In college, and post-college, I’ve calmed down. I’ve also done a lot of self exploration.
I talk about being blind more with others, friends and strangers alike (though not
always very willingly with the latter). I acknowledge my disability, and, though
I try to be natural about it, I don’t allow others to gloss over it if I feel it
needs to be addressed. I’ve let myself feel, for really the first time, some of the
anger, bitterness, and resentment I’ve carried around for a lot of my life. Of course,
like with everything else, it’s a process, and it’s not all deep, serious feelings
and self-rumination. Sometimes, my blindness is funny, even advantageous. But more
on all these things in the blog posts to come. You are invited to read this blog,
or not to read it. The choice is absolutely yours. You might not like some of the
things I have to say. But, as I said, it’s part of the process, a process that I
imagine will be a part of me for the rest of my life.

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