I am blind. I am not visually impaired. There isn’t a problem with my vision. I have a complete lack of vision. BLIND. It’s not a bad word. It’s not even a word I dislike. Just a word. When I meet new people they won’t say it. They’ll ask how much I can see. When I say I’m blind they’ll ask if I can see light. They’ll ask if I can see shadows. They’ll ask if there’s some kind of surgery that can be done to fix my eyes. My friends say I should just take my eyes out and be done with it. I don’t do that. But now when I say I’m blind I tap tap my nails against my prosthetic eyes. It’s the fastest way to show that the eyes are not real. I used to have a real problem with the word disabled. I hated that word. I didn’t like it applied to me. I used the word disabled referring to myself in a conversation with my sister the other day and my sister burst out laughing. I was confused. She said. “In your whole life I have never heard you use the word disabled talking about yourself.” I don’t think of myself as disabled. I think of myself as me. Just me. I don’t like the word disabled because it feels negative to me. It is true, I have an inability to see. But I still feel uncomfortable with the word. I speak only for myself here because I know there are people who don’t like the word blind. But I am okay with the word. It’s a very true, unambiguous, completely accurate word. Blind feels true but not negative. It just tells the facts.
So I don’t know if this is a blind girl thing or just a Harmony thing. But this is my blog and I can write anything I want so here it goes. I’m fully aware some of you will want to smack me after reading this post, and you are completely within your rights to do so. Britni your dog is not included, I loves him like he’s your baby. I am not an animal person. Tonight I am really not an animal person. Cute puppies don’t speak to my girly heart. Kittens are just balls of fur with scratchy nails. All of my little skittles are absolutely appalled by my distaste for fluffy creatures. The 3 year olds I watch will say, “You only like fake animals, right?” I’m not mean to animals. I will just make them go away from where I am. So here are blind girl reasons for my heartless disregard for all things cute and fluffy. Animals lick you. They come up and just lick you. They put their wet little noses on you. I do not like wet or sticky things. Wet or sticky things touching me makes my skin crawl. When you can’t see, you can’t see wet animal tongues coming for you. Even really well trained animals have accidents in the house. When you can’t see, you find these wet, nasty, completely disgusting accidents by actually touching them with some part of your body. Then you have to refind the same nastiness in order to clean it up, again by actually touching it. So for these blind girl reasons, or maybe Harmony reasons, I do not like animals. Blind girl moment of the night. My kids and I are having a campout in the living room. I locked the doggy door so the dogs going in and out wouldn’t wake the kids. One of my 3 dogs just couldn’t hold it even though I let them out before I locked the door. I stepped in wet, smelly nastiness. I searched the house for carpet cleaner to clean wet, smelly nastiness. I then had to relocate wet, smelly nastiness to clean it up. So for the record, here in print, on your computer screens, your phone screens, your tablet screens, I’d like to say. I DO NOT LIKE ANIMALS. Accept for turtles. Turtles are awesome.
Blind girls can’t sleep. Because my pretty eyes are entirely fake, I can’t see light so my body doesn’t know when is day and when is night. It’s an actual disorder. This means for a couple of weeks a month I sleep like a normal human type person. But then slowly my days and nights get flipped. This would be okay if I didn’t have a life which requires me to be awake in the day time. But I do. I quit drinking coffee in January of this year, healthy lifestyle. I am officially addicted to nothing at all now. I miss coffee. Getting out of bed is very difficult when I have only slept 2 or 3 hours. Vampires are not meant to be awake in the sunshine.
I am in the middle of the not sleeping period right now. It’s midnight and I am awake. I took my melatonin, I did relaxing exercises, I put my book down. Nothing helps. I am still awake. I have been awake for too many hours and I want to be asleep. So this blog post screams with whininess, but it is a blind girl problem. I am emotionally exhausted but physically awake and there is nothing to be done for it.
I want to start this post with a note to my friends who will read. This is not me fishing for complements or approval. This is just where my head is today so I wanted to share. The way someone looks is a subject that comes up more often than you probably think. In fact, you probably don’t think about it much at all. You look at someone and you categorize them. Cute, pretty, ugly, beautiful, hot, these are all descriptive words in our world. I can’t use these words in the same way with the same effect as everyone else. My Blind girl definition of beautiful is completely different from the cultural definition. If I think a guy is attractive that means he has a voice I like. I’ve had strangers ask me if I can tell what people look like when I touch their faces. I say yes, because this is another one of those things too complex to explain. The truth of it is if I’m comfortable enough with you to have my hands on your face, you’re my friend, my lover, my family. If I have my hands on your face, I already care about you. So no matter how beautiful, or how far from the classic definition of beautiful you may be, that’s not how I will see it. It gives me a picture to go with your voice. It’s an image I can pull up when I’m thinking about you or talking to you. But that’s all. I won’t see you by touching your face in the same way someone who is looking at a picture of you would see you. I’ve never touched someones face and thought that person was ugly. That person is who they were before I touched their face, and I already thought they were important, special, beautiful enough to want to know what they looked like.
I have an issue when the word beautiful is applied to me. Some of this comes from being a girl with low self esteem and has absolutely nothing to do with being blind and I know that. But there is a part that is the truth that I don’t know what I look like to other people. I don’t know what you see when you see me, because the way you see is so entirely different from the way I see. I know what I think I look like, and I know what other people have told me. It’s incredibly difficult to put both of those things into a realistic picture of what I look like, when I have no mirror to see what other people are seeing when they look at me.
I get the question all the time. ‘So you only see black?” I say yes to that because it’s much easier to just say yes than it is to explain it. I’m going to attempt to explain it here. I was 13 months old when I lost my sight. I have no eyes. Well I have eyes, but they’re fake eyes. I can’t remember what dark looks like, because I can’t remember what light looks like. I remember the color red vividly, but that is absolutely all. The rest of the colors are things to me. Green is the trees, apples, fresh cut grass. Blue is the sky, the ocean. I like dark colors because they are easier to understand. I don’t see black, I don’t see dark, I see nothing. This is a concept too hard for people to understand. I can’t picture something without picturing touching it. I’ve tried. I’ve sat up late not sleeping nights trying to picture seeing. When I was a teenager this really bothered me. I would pick one object, a coffee cup, an apple, a ball. A small object. Then I would sit for hours trying to picture that object without imagining my hands on it. It’s not possible. I can picture what a person looks like by imagining touching there face. I love voices. I build a lot of what i think someone will look like based on their voice. I’m usually completely wrong. I can picture anything in relation to my body. I can picture what the kids look like by imagining holding them. Picturing things in relation to me is the only way I can see them. Big things though have no relationship to me. I can’t picture what a sunrise looks like. The sun is only heat. The concept of seeing something from a distance is completely impossible. I think in words. That’s why I love reading and writing stories. Words make my world bigger. Words let me see, or my version of seeing.
It’s a funny thing when you can’t see but you know people are looking at you. Staring is a natural human reaction to something you haven’t seen before or do not understand. Because I can’t see I couldn’t care less how much people stare. Where ever I am, the gym, movies, airport, grocery store or church, I just assume people are looking. It does however bother the people I’m with. My family and friends become endlessly annoyed by strangers staring. People I don’t spend a lot of in person time with get genuinely angry and the people I’m with most often only get mildly irritated. There is one instance that sticks in my head though. When I was 17 I had to get allergy shots three times a week. The schedule lined up with times I was working so I’d end up taking the little skittles I was watching with me. After the shots I would have to wait an hour to make sure I had no reaction. This amounted to a lot of playing with kids in the waiting room. I was at this office 3 times a week for months. The same group of people had the same appointment times as I did so I’d see them every time I was there. And every time I was there every person made some comment about me to someone other then me. This unlike the staring did bother me quite a bit. If you are talking to someone about a person you don’t know, who just happens to be sitting 2 seats away from you, you could at the very least lower your voice. I’d probably hear you anyways, but i mean make an effort to not be a complete asshole. One day after I had been doing this for about a month a guy turned to me and asked, “So how blind are you?” This made me smile because this group of 7 adults had been sitting in the same room as I was, observing me, making comments about me and my blindness and not 1 person had actually spoken to me in all that time. I ended up explaining the basic blind girl things to him. No I can’t see at all. Yes I pick out my own clothes. Yes this is an iPhone I’m texting with. Yes watching these kids is my job. Yes, I have a job. No I can’t drive. No I really, truly, actually can’t see anything. This concept is really hard for strangers to grasp. In a 5 minute conversation everything everyone in that room had been talking about and wondering about me for a month had been answered. I speak only for myself here because I have met other blind people who get angry when people ask questions. But as far as I’m concerned questions are wonderful. What people don’t understand scares and confuses them. So if I can help you understand how my world works I will. But if you aren’t going to ask me your questions wait until you’re in another room to make your observations and comments. It’s rude.