When I left work in October of last year, my plans to complete my memoir and work on getting an audible version produced were at the top of my to do list. I learned so much about myself in the process, and even though my vision was getting worse every day I felt energized and excited about life.
Now, several months later, I look back on what I wrote, and I wonder, What the hell was I thinking? Was I so arrogant that I honestly thought I had somehow mastered the emotional impact of what’s happening with my vision?
Life has a way of always giving you more to learn.
The truth is, as my central vision slips away, I find myself, at times, feeling more irritable and frustrated with my limitations than ever before. Add in the impact of no longer having the daily challenge of my career and it’s no wonder I struggle some days feeling fulfilled.
(I can’t imagine why I am suddenly so intrigued by the challenge of something like the Appalachian Trail.)
I tell myself that, at this point, I have so little of my central vision left that the loss of what remains will have minimal impact on the quality of my life, but that’s a lie. The changes in my visual acuity that I once measured in years seems to happen in weeks now. It used to be difficult to make out people’s faces. Now it is impossible unless the room is lit like an operating room. That is still, by far, the hardest part for me.
What I am finding is that the little central vision I have left is far more precious than the vision I had ten years ago, before my diagnosis. It is the scarcity of what is left that makes the loss so much more painful at times.
In my book I talked about acceptance, and when I wrote about it I felt confident about how well I had accepted my situation. The thing about acceptance is that it is not a onetime thing. You cannot accept and forget. It’s a choice that must be made everyday.
Looking back, it seems like it was easier to accept the loss of vision I experienced five years ago, or even two years ago. What I lost in the last couple months has been a whole new challenge and what I will lose tomorrow will be yet a greater test.
I have repeatedly said that I feel blessed in my life. I know how lucky I am. That doesn’t change the frustration, loss, and disappointment I feel at times. I think that part of my challenge today is that I learned so much about myself in the process of writing my memoir. Then when the book was complete, my curiosity about my emotions was lost or at least seriously diminished.
Maybe I can just call it my summer break and refocus on what my emotions are trying to tell me. It seems to me that the first step in acceptance is listening to what my heart is telling me, and right now I think it is saying, “Listen to me!”.