Saturday, March 20, 2010

I can't believe that one day I'll be an old blind lady!!!!!

The other day, my six-year-old niece, Gabby, was suppose to come over and spend the day with us. Well, let me be specific. Gabby was coming over to play with my other six-year-old niece, Jasmine. The girls love each other so much; and they long for the weekends to come so that they can meet up here at my house to play with one another. We just happen to benefit from the visits. LOL

Well, this particular Saturday afternoon, Gabby was scheduled to come over. However, Jasmine had a birthday party to attend with friends of the family. So, Jasmine wasn't going to be here for a couple hours after Gabby was supposed to arrive.

When Gabby was asked if she wanted to go ahead and come to our house, without Jasmine being here, this was Gabby's reply.

"Yes... I'll go over there and take care of Ann because she's blind."

My mouth dropped open. I wasn't offended at all. I was just shocked. It was my first time hearing Gabby certify that she indeed has a blind auntie. I felt naked for moment. I felt like the condition that I had managed to pass over as "not a big deal" for six years had become a "big deal" in the eyes of my niece. It had become a big deal so much that she felt like she, in all of her six-year-old glory, needed to declare that she should make the effort to take care of her 30-something-year-old aunt.

In many situations, I'm known as the blind teacher, the blind motivational speaker, the blind neighbor, the blind church member, the blind blogger, and the blind lady to strangers. And that's cool... I used to have a real problem with being the blind anything. But now, I've learned to not pay it any attention. I know that there's much more to me than my blindness.

However, what I do hope for is that my three nieces, my one nephew, my dozens of cousins, my remaining uncles and aunts, my loving parents, my three sisters, and my circle of intimate friends do not see me as their blind ________________. I don't want my blindness to supersede everything else that I am. I want my blindness to be the last thing those particular people see.

But with all that being said... I think it's great that Gabby wanted to take care of her auntie, even if it was due to her thinking that I need someone to take care of me because of the blindness. That lets me know for sure that she loves and cares about me. That makes me feel like one of the luckiest women (Not blind women...) in the world!!!!!

I'm also glad that Gabby has a heart of compassion for individuals that may possess some level of need. Let's be honest here... No matter how independent I am, the truth is that I cannot see. And that presents countless opportunities I can use a helping eyeball to look out for me. LOL So, I'm glad she's willing to be helpful!!!!

For sure, I'm going to need her help to read something for me, guide me in an unfamiliar territory, assist me with finding something that's lost, and hopefully one day take me shopping for clothes, shoes, furniture, or make-up... You get the point.

Perhaps what's more troubling than being a blind aunt is being a blind aunt that has no kids or husband of her own. One of my real fears is that I'm going to grow old and be alone. This is why I work so hard to play a visible role in my nieces and nephew lives. I want them to remember their aunt when they become adults. I want them to one day look out for the old blind woman that's their aunt. LOL When I’m an old blind lady, I’ll be glad if any of them come over to take care of me. Hopefully, Gabby will still have the desire!!!! LOL

**This is dedicated to my babies. I live the life I live to be an inspiration to each of you. I love you soooooo much!!!!!!!!

Always and forever,
Aunt Angie**

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Happy Birthday NuVision for a NuDay!!!!!!! (Has it really been four years?)

Earlier today, I was talking with a good friend about my blog. We were discussing all of the attention and opportunities that my blog has introduced me to. While conversing with him, I realized something. I've actually maintained this blog for four years now!

I started NuVision for a NuDay March 9, 2006. And since that first entry published on Blogger, I've written and published over 300 more. That is an amazing accomplishment for a recovering, procrastinating, easily distracted girl, such as myself. LOL

So, today, I would like to take some time to celebrate NuVision's birth and continued growth!!!!! Despite how many times I wanted to back away from the blogger's table, this blog continued to call my name. This blog has demanded that I tell the story of a 30-something, African American, blind woman in Texas. This blog has insisted that I'm honest with myself and the world regarding what it's like to see the world through blind eyes.

NuVision, thank you for giving me a voice!!!!!!

I would also like to thank all of the readers that so graciously stop by here to read my words. I'm honored that you would take out the time to read about my journey from darkness to light. I hope that you will continue to join me as I share with you my experiences, perspectives, and even my emotional nudity.

All the best to you!!!!!!

Angela L. Braden
Award Winning Blogger and Motivational Speaker

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tempted in the Wildnerness (Part 3 of 3)

****Before reading this post, you may want to start here and here first.*****

Taking care of my mother has been perhaps one of the most painstaking experiences that I will likely have in this lifetime. While grieving and coping with the changes in my mother that the stroke caused, I had to step up to the plate and provide A+ care for her. I couldn't let my pain, my disappointment, my sorrow, my depression get in the way of what I needed to do for her. I couldn't let her know how messed up I was. I knew if Mama realized how hurt I was to see her in that condition, she would become discouraged and wouldn't push as hard to overcome the disabling effects of the stroke. So, instead of me taking time to deal with my pain, I put Mama in the front, and took care of her, without taking care of me.

And that has been where I've been for the last seven years. I've put Mama, along with her children and grandchildren, in front of me in the line of people I should and actually do take care of. I've neglected myself, perhaps for noble reasons, to take care of others. I've put my mental health on the backburner, while trying to help my family retain a certain degree of sanity. I've fallen off the weight loss bandwagon, picked up weight, basically killing myself, while trying to help Mama stay alive. I have basically sacrificed myself and my life, with the hope that my family will hopefully choose life over death.

And now, I'm suffering for making those choices. I'm feeling the affects of not taking care of myself. I'm feeling the pain that I neglected to deal with so many years ago. I feel myself breaking into millions of pieces.

I decided a few weeks ago that I should seek counseling. I started going to Celebrate Recovery at my church, with the hope that I would find strength to manage as I try to reclaim my life. I started planning/strategizing/brainstorming on ways I can turn this thing around.

Before I go any further, let me clarify something. No, I do not want to stop taking care of my family. I just want to start taking care of myself first!!!!!

I heard a preacher say something over ten years ago. I now understand the magnitude of the wisdom he spoke.

"Fill your own cup first, and nourish others with the overflow."

How profound!!!!

When I first heard it, I thought it was selfish, but now I get it!!!!

I've been filling others folks cups first, and getting mad when they don't realize what a sacrifice I've been making. LOL

And that was part of my problem the other night. When mayhem broke loose in my house, I was mostly upset because, despite my best efforts, despite all the sacrifices I had made for my family, they would not stop fussing long enough to consider me. I was hurt that they put themselves before me.

I think they are the ones that got it right!

I should learn to do that too!

I should learn to put myself, my desires, my motivations at the top of the list. Of course, I shouldn't be selfish and hateful. However, I'm learning from my family that the first person that should look out for Angie should be Angie. And I should not ever expect anyone to look out for me as much as I should look out for myself.

The other night, I felt the pain and sorrow of what I've been enduring for years. I felt trapped. I felt like I had no way out of this life. The enemy came to tempt me in the wilderness. He came to make an offer for me to escape this pain. He suggested that I end it all. He tempted me to abort all that God has placed inside of me for this journey.

When he tempted me with such an offer, I was startled. I hadn't felt like that in a long time. I hadn't experienced suicidal ideation in years. So, when the enemy was standing in front of me, calling my name, trying to usher me to turn away from this life I have, I paused to hear his voice, my voice, and the voice of God.

All of those voices in my head... I could hear them all at once. Sometimes, one voice would be stronger than the others.

The enemy telling me it's not worth it.
God telling me that He wouldn't have guided me into any experience, without giving me the provision to survive it and gain from it.
My voice, admitting that I'm tired of this situation...

I decided to take a hard, strong look at what was being told to me.

I considered my voice and questioned the validity. Was I really tired? For sure! Do I feel that God has and continues to equip me with what I need to survive in the wildnerness He guided me into? I do believe that. The one voice that I knew would lie to me, that consistently lies is the voice of the enemy. I rejected him with fury!

I made up my mind, yet again, that quitting is not an option. Yes, this life I have is hard, but it is manageable. I just need to approach it differently. I need to seek God and other wise individuals to help me navigate better. I need to put my mental, physical, and spiritual health at the top of my list of priorities.

I chose life over death! And I lived that night to live the life that God has given me.

Am I still in the wildnerness? Yep! I now know more than I've ever known that there are lessons, gifts, and triumphs that I will encounter in this wilderness. The wildnerness is not a place of punishment, it is a place to get closer to God. That night, I got a little closer to God.

**God, I thank you for all that You’re teaching me in this wildnerness experience. Thank you for continuing to reveal Yourself and Your plan for my life. Help me develop the strength that is necessary to continue to resist the enemy, and to develop into the Angie You’ve designed me to be.**

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Tempted in the Wilderness (Part 2 of 3)

**This started off being a two-part narrative. If you haven't read the first one, you should do that before starting here. Tomorrow, I will post the third and last installment. I hoped to only do it in two parts, but I'm emotionally drained.**

For years, every since my preteen years, the tempter would seduce me with the idea that death was my only escape from my problems. In fact, when I was twelve-years-old, I took my suicidal ideation a little further than just thoughts. I overdosed on some of my medication. Thankfully, after I swallowed the last pill, I came to my senses.

I alerted my adult cousin of the nearly fatal step I had taken. My family got me immediate medical attention. Turns out, I didn't take enough to "Kill" myself. However, I did take enough to potentially cause major physical damage. Thankfully, they were able to flush out the chemicals from my system before any damage was done.

Although I survived that incident, I still lived in utter conflict. I wanted to live as much as I wanted to die. I wanted to triumph as much as I wanted to give up. I wanted to boldly confront my pain as much as I wanted to run and hide from it. I was torn between hope and hopelessness.

I lived with that conflict for another twelve years. It wasn't until I was in graduate school at Dallas Baptist, and until I was a member at The Potter's House, that I was able to completely turn my back on the demonic temptation to take my own life. I made a decision to start coming to grips that I may never "see" again. I began the process to cope with the darkness that was around me. I embraced the idea that my God, in all of His wisdom and authority, may indeed have a plan for this blind life that I was now left to live with.

And once I stopped spending all of my time praying and crying for a miracle to rescue me, the miracle happened. I found the courage to live in the darkness without being afraid, without being depressed, without being suicidal.

Life was still tough, and I would still have my moments that I felt overwhelmed. However, I didn't want to die. I finally realized that life provided me with opportunities to experience happiness. Death only would stop the pain. Life was capable of giving me joy. So, I chose life, and turned my back on dying.

It's only every now and then, I briefly think about death. I think that suicidal ideation is like a conquered habit for me. It's almost like a recovering drug addict. You may never try the drug again, but from time to time, the thought crosses your mind. That's how it was for me and the suicide thoughts. However, I knew it was nothing. It would pop in my mind, but I would kick it out as fast as it would come.

Interestingly, when the thought popped into my head the other night, I hadn't wanted to die in a long time. I guess the emotional pain and frustration I was feeling was so strong, so overpowering that I actually revisited the notion that death was the only escape to my problems.

When my mother got sick, I petition god to heal her. I begged Him to make Mama better. I cried and cried, hoping that He would respond to my plea. Mama did get better. However, she was still quite sick, extremely weak, and mentally impaired. The doctors told us that she required 24-hour care and supervision.

So, I prayed and asked God what I should do. He spoke to my spirit and inspired me to take the responsibility to be my mother's caregiver.

I allowed God to guide me into the wilderness. I allowed Him to direct me to an unfamiliar place of pain, hardship, and emotional trauma. Yeah, I was all too familiar with pain and disappointment. However, the trials that were introduced to me in this wilderness were stronger and bolder.

**Check out the last of this narrative tomorrow**

Note to Patrick: God is able!!!!!!! :) I'm still here!!!!!!!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Tempted in the Wilderness (Part 1 of 2)

I've been quite reluctant to write this post, being that so many of my current readers actually know me. In many ways, I feel I have an image to uphold. I have to, no matter how I feel, give folks the impression that I'm strong, that I'm an overcomer. Not because I want folks to celebrate me, but because I want people to be encouraged themselves. I know so many people are depending on me to be strong in this dark life I live in, so that they can know they can also be strong in their dark moments.

However, I feel that there are some things that I must get off my chest. There are some things that I need to say out loud to provide myself some therapy. And perhaps my honesty will help someone as much or more than my seemingly strong demeanor.

Last night, I was visited by a horror that is all too familiar to me. I was awakened from my restless sleep by fussing and screaming. I tried to lie in the bed and ignore it, but the verbal violence was rapidly rising. And there was no doubt about it, a referee was needed to defuse the situation.

Who was fussing you might wonder? My mother and my sister was having an all out screamathon at 1:30 A.M

Because I'm the most skilled at managing the emotionally charged conflicts that erupt in this house, I jumped up to do my job. The problem with refereeing fights that involve your parent is the "parent" always trumps the children, even if one of the children is the inexplicit family referee.

I tried to talk everyone down. I tried to even scream everyone to silence. I tried to confront the issues head on, knowing that despite my best efforts the conflict could easily turn on me.

And it did...

My mother wouldn't back down. She told me to shut up and go back to my room. She told me that nobody was going to tell her where to go and when to be quiet in her house.

I looked past the blindness in my eyes to look directly at my mother. I pleaded with her to call a truce for the night. I told her that I have borderline anxiety issues. (My diagnosis...) I begged her to consider my mental health. She told me to go to my room. I tucked my hope for a resolution in my back pocket and retreated to my room, but not with an ounce of solace.

This is a good time to throw out this disclaimer. My mother is not an angry, screaming, emotionally wild woman. She is a kind, loving, peaceful creature. Well, that's what she was before the stroke.

Now, my mother is a sad, easily angered, bitter woman, who also happens to have a speech impairment and a massive brain injury.

The stroke robbed my mother of managing her life.
The stroke stole my mother's career as a teacher.
The stroke murdered my mother's artistic and creative gifts, such as playing the piano, writing poetry and plays, as well as her gift of interior decorating.
The stroke kidnapped her ability to clearly articulate thoughts, ideas, requests, happiness, and pain.
The stroke divorced her from her life-long friends and co-workers.
The stroke suspended her driver's license for life.
The stroke slaughtered her ability to think critically.
The stroke killed much of the woman I knew to be my mother.

I hate strokes because of what it did to my mother. I hate strokes because of what it did to my aunt, Linda. I hate strokes because of what it did to my grandmother, Mona. I hate strokes because I'm scared that one day I will also become its mangled prey.

After going back to my room, I crawled into my bed and into the emotional arms of a friend. I vented, using colorful language and explosive emotional energy. He listened to me as I verbally vomited through the phone. He talked to me until I had nothing else to say. I appreciate him for being there for me.

However, he was on the phone, and I needed someone to be there with me in person. I needed to be consoled beyond a phone conversation. I needed to hide from all that pain. I needed an uncharted island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to vanish to. I needed more than a friendly voice on the phone. I needed God to rescue me.

After hanging up the phone, frustration mounted in my heart and mind. I felt hopeless. I felt strained beyond repair. That grief, that sorrow, that pain prompted me to wish I was dead. And before I knew it, the desire to kill myself was standing before me, calling my name, like it was my friend, like it was my savior, like it was the solution to all of my problems.

**I'll post the 2nd part to this post tomorrow. Don't worry! I'm not dead!!!!!! LOL**