This weekend I attended a friend’s wedding. I enjoyed it immensely. It was a reminder of the fact that not everything in life has to be a struggle. Not everything needs to be difficult. It’s nice to see so many happy faces celebrating a joyous occasion.
During the last three years I have gone out of social circulation a bit. This is because I was suffering from all the symptoms you might associate with a severe concussion due to chronically untreated and mistreated strabismus. Social circumstances don’t always bend to health and resting needs. It’s weird to suddenly need to close your eyes to rest them or have to lie down so I prefer to avoid such situations. It has been hard enough to manage and explain my condition to my in-house family. It has often proven challenging not to lose my nerve and get angry at their incomprehension of what is obvious, at least, to me. Certainly when thinking they could have avoided the whole thing by using own their brains. Sometimes Sartre is right. L’enfer, c’est les autres.
I also didn’t socialize too often because it doesn’t change anything about my peculiar problem, drains my energy and adds to the frustration. I simply have to ‘do the time’ while not bashing into the walls too much. I have been fairly successful at doing my recovery time without repaying, often unintentional, hurt with hurt. That’s the best and most sensible way of doing it. I’m good at restraining myself from doing stupid things.
Still, life goes on. Everyone else goes on to live their life and you have to start from scratch. While they get to have opportunities, jobs, weddings and babies, I have to teach myself how to read. The wedge has always been there, and I have done a remarkable job of covering it up, but in the end the truth remains. I don’t possess the visual motor skills to do even basic reading. High intelligence and impeccable work ethic will only get you so far without those.
Meritocracy is dead. I felt as if whatever I do makes no difference and gets me nowhere in life. No wonder I didn’t feel like socializing. I mostly felt furious and alienated. This is why, despite being a sociable person and having lovely friends, I was not always capable of being good company. The last thing I wanted to do is lash out at them for something that isn’t their fault. They can’t help the fact that they have what I want without even giving it a second thought. They can’t help a whole series of ignorant, negligent and blameful people made me squander my youth and are still making me pay for their mistakes. However, irritation is natural when being locked in in your own body. Usually thinking about all this lost time and effort makes me want to throw up. Fortunately I have a good understanding of the situation now and know the only solution for me is to take my losses and build a better visual system.
This weekend I felt differently. It might be because I was able to get through the entire day without running into double vision or insurmountable exhaustion. This made me enjoy the day, the lovely people and the beautiful party. However, I think there’s more to it. Even though I’m not exactly aiming for a ‘normal’ life, it must be nice to be able to function normally. In other words, take your life into your own hands. I think I can eventually attain that freedom. I’ll have to work with the delayed time frame but I feel as if there’s still hope for me after all. In a recent e-mail conversation with Sue Barry, she told me:
“It’s amazing how much we were missing visually, but this also gives us the opportunity to keep improving. Although my biggest visual changes occurred when I was in formal therapy in 2002 and 2003, I still strategize with my optometrist a few times a year about new exercises I can practice at home, and my vision continues to improve. I’m 60 years old, and while all my friends are complaining about how they are aging, I’m seeing better. So, there are compensations and -you’re right – the best is yet to come.”
Being there I could just savor the moment without feeling betrayed by anyone having had ‘an easier time’ than me. I could be happy for them without thinking about our contrasting lives. I won’t have to be a dysfunctional illiterate person without opportunities forever. I too will be okay one day and get out of this mess. Among all those happy people I thought about how far I have already come in recovering the unrecoverable, enjoyed my single vision and smiled. Indeed, the best is yet to come.