My first week at Blind School is over. It was earth-shattering. In a good way. I walked in and met T, my mobility and orientation instructor, and I was really happy to see him, but the minute I saw my peers, walking around with their canes around campus, I kind of felt like crawling into a hole and refusing to come out. It was hard, because up until that point, being blind was almost hypothetical. But nothing was hypothetical about my presence there that morning. I had a cane in my hand. I was answering questions about my residual sight. I was bumping into people. What the... oh shit. I'm blind, aren't I? I had to keep reminding myself how much I fought to get there, so that I wouldn't want to turn around and go home, back to the world I created for myself where coping with blindness was merely a resolution, and not an actual action.
I would say it is a little bit like your resolution to lose weight. On New Year's Day, it's an absolute possibility. Why not? You're still full from those holiday meals, and anything seems possible with a new set of numbers on the calendar. But when the reality sets in - the cake at your nephew's birthday party that you'll have to refuse, or the first time walking into the gym and not knowing where to start or what all those people are doing in that room where everyone looks like human pretzels - you just don't know anymore why you thought this would be such a good idea. In fact, it's starting to sound like a bad idea. And suddenly, Taco Bell sounds delicious, and downright necessary.
I had that feeling. I felt like saying never mind, pass the nachos. Not because I didn't like to be there, but because I didn't know what I was doing, and because it was just too overwhelming, and too tempting to just wait a few more years before I faced this again.
Luckily, my school has T. T and I talked a little bit about our mobility goals, and we talked a little bit about some basic techniques, and it was all so natural and comfortable, that I think there just came a point where I forgot that I was learning how to cope with blindness, and I just thought of it as Something I Have To Do To Be Happy, Healthy, and Successful. No more hiding. Let's get started.
The switch was made, and every instructor I've had since T made it that much easier to move along. I have support there. It's been like walking into a gym for the first time and being immediately greeted by the entire cast of The Biggest Loser, promising to help you succeed.
Each day was easier and easier. And I became more and more confident. The last class of the week was Braille, and I was definitely intimidated by it. But by the end of the class, I had figured out the pattern of the entire alphabet, and was already learning how to write. In just two hours, the thing I was most worried about became fun, and I seriously think I'm going to read the whole lesson manual this weekend just for kicks. (I think it helped that I haven't been in school in over 7 years, and my brain was just so thirsty that it couldn't help but soak it all up. In other words, results not typical, and I'm pretty sure I'll plateau by Tuesday... but in the meantime, moremoremoremoremore)
I know I made the right choice in going to this school. It is scary and overwhelming and exhausting, but it is also exactly what I needed. My earth was shattered, but not without the promise of a whole new world.