Monday, July 30, 2012

The Superwoman Syndrome (Part 1 of 2)

In the last ten years, a number of my friends and family members have endured a number of major challenges and suffered some significant loss. There response to their experiences with loss and hardship have been what I think of as normal. They admit and demonstrate sadness, grief, frustration, anger, hopelessness, and depression. While I think all of these responses are normal, I do feel that people should do whatever they can to rise from the ashes and find their way to a place of healing, wholeness, and recovery.

Do I think it's easy? Of course, not. It takes a lot of hard work to dig yourself from the rubble of your shattered pieces of your life. However, I think that staying underneath all of that rubble will only cause further injury, more loss, and possibly even death.

Nearly thirty years ago, I started losing my eye sight due to an aggressive case of Glaucoma. Almost overnight, I went from being a highly active kid, who love to read, write, ride bikes, paint, sculpt pieces of art, and play kid sports; to a frightened, sick kid, who was locked within the blinding uncertainty of each day. I couldn't see well enough to read any of my books, ride my bike, play sports with the other kids in the neighborhood, or paint. Even my handwriting took a hit. My once perfect handwriting and cursive started looking like oversized chicken scratch. I felt sad, hopeless, ashamed of my physical disability, punished, victimized, and deeply depressed.

At the age of thirteen, my family made a decision to send me to Austin, Texas to attend the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Being forced to go to the state’s blind school was the icing, the whip cream, and the candle on top of my two layer cake of total despair. The only thing I thought could happen to me that was worse than what I was already going through was total sight loss. So, I made a decision at thirteen that I would kill myself if I ever lost all of my sight. I was fully convinced that I couldn’t live my life as a blind person.

Each night, I would call my mother and father collect from the payphone in the girls' dorm and cry on the phone at least fifty percent of the conversation. They would try to console and encourage me to be strong. After I would get off the phone with them, I would give it a try, but I would still fall in my mode of feeling weak, depressed, and hopeless.

I would also call my mother’s friend, BJ, who later became a great friend to me. I would tell her all the stuff I would tell my parents when I would call them. She also made strong attempts to cheer me up, but depression still burdened me. One evening, I called BJ with heaviness on my heart, tears in my eyes, and whining in my voice. BJ said something to me that I will never forget.

“Okay… You’re blind. And at this point, there’s nothing that any of us can do about it. It’s time to end that pitiful, poor me, blind, little girl bullshit. What are you going to do with the rest of your life? It’s not up to your mama or your daddy to make the best of this situation. It’s up to you.”

That challenge shocked and even slightly offended me. However, my spirit was awakened and jolted into a place of self-confrontation.

What was I going to do with the rest of my life?

**I’ll post the other half of this tomorrow.**

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