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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Can You See Me? I'm Here In The Darkness. (Part 4)

I spent the last few days attending the Blind Cafe and then the 2013 TX Deaf-Blind Symposium. Because of these two events my perception of Oli and some preconceived notions of her abilities/disabilities have completely been swung around and turned on their heads. 

Where I have focused a lot of my time on what she cannot do because of        or what she will not do because of         .I am now seeing exactly what she is capable of and what is possible if I give her the chance.  Although I really felt like I had given her lots of opportunities to explore the world and chances to communicate, after talking with blind adults and listening to experts in the field, now I feel like. . . Holy shit! I still have been regarding her learning opportunities in terms of what I see as limitations because of her disabilities.

While I was sitting in the darkness at the cafe a striking realization came to me when the wait staff started answering questions.  I hate to say that when I first see a person with a disability, I see a disability.  I'm not supposed to see that right? Because my daughter has a disability?  But I still do.  I don't like that about me and I really try not to.  I realized that one of the things that was so wonderful about listening to the blind adults speak in the cafe was. . . I didn't see a disability.  I couldn't! And it was great.  All I heard were intelligent, funny, nice people speaking. And then I started thinking about what an advantage they have over all of the rest of us.  They honestly get to know people in a fast, genuine, real way, bypassing all of the visual, judgemental, nonsense that sighted people have. 

Always aspiring to be one of those "good" people who doesn't judge people by what they look like, what they're wearing, or how clean they are (although I'll bet blind people notice that one even quicker than me) I suddenly started thinking of Oli as. . .lucky. I stopped viewing blindness as something I would never want for her and although I still wish she wasn't, I started looking at all of the good things about blindness.  Like seeing people by way of her heart and judging them by the truth in their words and the honesty in their voices.

I had a moment when I was sitting in the dark, listening to the band play, that I was overcome by sadness.  Silent tears poured down my face as I sat there thinking about how hard it was. Walking around not knowing where I was going, trying to find my food and not knowing what I was eating because nobody told me.  Tasting food that I HATE and not knowing if I had a drink. Wanting to wipe off my hands and not being able to find my napkin.  I felt helpless. I felt alone. 
But as I sat there crying quietly so no one would know, I started to recognize that feeling. I remember spending a lot of my time feeling that exact same way in the first years of Oli's life. Lost and alone, crying silently in the dark.  I welcomed that feeling like an old friend and greeted her with open arms without even realizing who she is.  Who she really is... is my own self pity. My own fear, ignorance, and judgement. 

I opened my eyes, dried my tears and sat up straight in my chair. 

NO! No more!

I will not allow this twisted friendship to continue! I will not welcome you into my heart!  I will not pretend anymore that you will stay for a short visit and then let you live on my couch for years!

You Miss. . . are no longer allowed in my front door.

I am not helpless, weak, alone, unheard, unloved, or in this by myself.  More importantly, this is not about me. 
This is about Oli and she is none of those things either.
(Thank you for reading about my experience at the Blind Café! If you're interested in learning more or want to know if the Blind Cafe is coming to a city near you go to www.theblindcafe.com The End.)


  1. You are absolutely amazing.

  2. I wish this would come somewhere near to me. It sounds like a real "eye-opening" experience!!!

    1. It was the coolest thing!! It really was eye opening;) Maybe someday you'll be able to go. I HIGHLY recommend it!

  3. This whole thing is so interesting. What a great way to have insight into Oli's world. I occasionally close my eyes and walk around the house, but it's no where near the same, cause as soon as I get scared, I open my eyes.. I'm so glad you got to experience the blind cafe -- very'eye opening' :-)