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.


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

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

    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. 🙂


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