Sometimes I Sits and Thinks and Sometimes I Just Sits

29 Sep

by Jeff Flodin

I subscribe to the notion that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% what I do about it.When what happens to me is bad, I can think like a victim, feel like a victim and act like a victim.  A victim has  no choices. A victim isstuck on the pity pot.

Learning that I have choices, and acting on these choices, brings the power I need to change.I can choose to engage rather than isolate, become active  rather than passive, and show self-respect instead of self-pity.  Change can liberate me from the trappings of victimhood, of thinking that my reality is everything that happens to me rather than what I create and nurture from my spirit.

Here’s what happened to me in March, 1986.I was thirty-five years old.  I was one month shy of being married.  I was diagnosed with RP.  I was told I will go blind.  For the what I did about it part, I went into shock.  I thought the world was ending.  Whatever I felt about blindness, I wanted to feel something different.  The only thing
I wanted to change was my eyesight, my diagnosis and my prognosis.

RP has no treatment and no cure.  So, for years I waged war on vision loss.  My arsenal included denial, anger, resistance, isolation and alcohol.  With these weapons, I was ill-equipped for the 90% part of this process.  I don’t
know what changed the course of my war.  Maybe it was giving up the fight.
Surrender can be a dirty word in wartime, but I really had to get honest that I was fighting something I could not control.  Surrender came in the guise of acceptance.  Surrender means joining the winning side.

Acceptance was neither in my vocabulary nor in my emotional repertoire.  But I found that until I accepted my vision loss, I could not be happy.  I don’t have to like being blind.  I can even say, on rare occasion, that I hate my blindness and not have that mean that I hate myself because I am blind.  Saying I hate my blindness is a wake-up call that the amount of control I seek to employ is beyond my ability to control.

Acceptance is a word that gets thrown around a lot when thereis loss.  Early on, I misinterpreted acceptance as being a place one achieves and, once there,  where one dwellsin a state of grace forever.  I find that acceptance is more
transitory, more situational.  When I get down, I assume I’m not doing such a hot job accepting blindness.  If I were, I wouldn’t get down, right?  Here’s the trick.  Gradually, I’m learning  to accept that now and then I will not accept my blindness automatically.  Blindness will win a battle here and there. Occasionally, playing the hand I’m dealt means playing a lesser hand.

I am learning that neither blindness nor acceptance is absolute.Even as I hate blindness, I seek to react creatively and constructively.  I try to look at vision loss as an opportunity to learn, to become a more patient and tolerant person.  Life is often a question of balance, of recognizing that good and bad exist in my mind, where I have the option  to choose what I wish to plant and to nurture.

Jeff Flodin is a writer.  He has been diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa for 30 years.   Read more about Jeff on the Statement page of this blog.  Read more of Jeff’s essays at Jalapenos in the Oatmeal.

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One Response to “Sometimes I Sits and Thinks and Sometimes I Just Sits”

  1. Mani G. Iyer October 1, 2011 at 12:02 PM #

    Jeff:
    That is a beautiful and inspirational essay. I personally am currently going through the process of acceptance through surrender and letting go. It is hard but I will get there, for I know that is probably the only way to combat by deaf/blindness.
    I think that I have accepted my blindness in some ways but I know it is not enough till acceptance is complete.
    I plan to read this essay many more times till it sinks in smoothly.
    Thank you so much, Jeff and in case you didn’t know, you are a wonderful writer. 🙂

    mani

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