Perfect In my Eyes

If you are like most people you probably don’t think about your eyes often. I don’t mean all of the things your eyes do for you, I mean the existence of your eyes in general. Your eyes being in your face is a given for you. I am not someone who has had this luxury in my life.
When I was 1 year old I developed bilateral retinoblastoma. This is a cancer of the eye which develops in young children. When presented with all the treatment options my parents chose to have my eyes removed. This was a decision that I will always be grateful to them for making. I have been blessed to have been healthy ever since. My eyes though. How does one deal with a toddler who suddenly has a lack of eyes in her face?
My parents did what most parents would do. They had prosthetic eyes made for me. As I grew older I learned to take my eyes out and put them back in again. I also learned that my ability to remove and replace my eyes made me interesting! I drove my parents crazy by taking my eyes out and leaving them places they didn’t belong. I educated my Friends about the mysteries of the prosthetic  eye. But somewhere along the way I developed a deep insecurity about my lack of eyes.
I have learned in my life that this world is a very visual place. If you look different, people are going to judge you differently. So I can respect the fact that my parents wanted to shelter me from a certain amount of that judgment. They taught me to never leave the house without my prosthetic eyes in. If I was sick, or suffering from a headache, or couldn’t find my prosthetic eyes, they made me wear dark sunglasses. They told me to never let anyone see me without my eyes in. They told me that I didn’t look good without my eyes in. They taught me to be ashamed of something I couldn’t change. I don’t believe this was the intention. I believe the intent was one, to stop me from losing my very expensive prosthetic eyes. Two, to save me from the judgments of an uneducated world.
In the last few years though, I’ve learned something else. It is a lot more healthy to be confident in who you are with or without eyes then it is to search for The acceptance of the whole world. I will never be exactly like everyone else. When I go out in public people stare at me! They stare at me if I had my eyes in or if I don’t! They stare at me because I use a cane. Because I’m blind! They stare at me because I have an interesting hairstyle. because I have tattoos and piercings. Whatever! I have learned that they are going to stare! There is no getting around that! But I’ve also learned that I have a safe place within my family. That when my husband or my step kids look at me they don’t see a girl with no eyes. They just see me! They except me with or without the prosthetics. And they never ask me to change. If I’m not in the mood to wear my eyes it doesn’t matter. I can just be myself and not worry that the people closest to me, who should always except me for exactly who I am, are judging me. It’s a very safe feeling.
When I read on social media about parents of children who are struggling with the same kind of cancer complaining about their child not wanting to wear their eyes, it makes me remember the little girl I was, and the young woman I became. I understand and respect the desire they have to keep their children safe from the judgment of others. I implore them to also teach those children that they are beautiful no matter what they decide to do with their eyes. Teach them that people will stare, people will ask questions, sometimes people will be mean! But that’s life. it’s far better for them to know they have a safe place in their parents arms than anything else. They need to know that they are perfect in their parents eyes, even though they no longer have perfect eyes of their own.

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