Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

Shhhh, I have a secret; I want to tell you.  Be careful who you tell though, please.  You would be disappointed in the reaction of some people!

If you look at me, I appear to be petite but strong.  I am strong…mentally.  It was not that long ago that I worked with adjudicated youth.  Back then, I was physically strong, too.  I was trained in self-defense and could easily take a 300-pound teenager to the ground in a matter of seconds.  Now a kindergartener can take me down with no extra effort.  Not only have I lost my physical strength, but I have lost my balance as well.  I also appear as if I can see everything in front of me.  I walk with confidence and without hesitation.  The truth is I was not distracted when I walked right by you, and I was not daydreaming when I ran into the light pole.  My sight is half gone.  There is a great deal I miss now.

But these are my secrets.  I have learned there is a time and place to share them.  I am caught between a rock and a hard place.  Upon first meeting, is it better to let you know that I have limitations, or is it more important for you to believe that I have unlimited opportunities with my apparent abilities?  This is a question that goes through my mind on a nearly daily basis.

I often get asked, “What happened to your leg?  Why are you limping?”  Sometimes this will be said after I have known a person for a while.  Other times, it will be asked upon first meeting an individual.  Within the answer lies my crossroads.  If I answer nonchalantly, “I always limp. I had a stroke.”  The first reaction is always immediate astonishment, concern and then sympathy.  I do not want your sympathy though.  I especially do not want it when the person asking is not willing to listen to me explain that it turned out to be the greatest thing that could have happened to me.  I want to explain that they should not be sad for me.  Rather, I want them to rejoice with me for what I have overcome.  My physical strength might fail me often now, but my inner strength is so strong that it is immeasurable.

If you see someone in a wheelchair, be very careful about your initial reaction.  They may be able to push the wheels faster than you can run.  Very possibly they are faster and more efficient with problem solving due to the limitations they have had to work around.  If you come across someone who is deaf, be careful what you say.  They can hear the unspoken language of your body better than your hearing ears will ever allow you to understand.  Do not judge a disability you can quickly notice.  Do not think of what you see as a weakness.  The unnoticed compensating abilities that person has may shock you.

I really do not mind my limitations.  Sure, it would be nice to get back some of what I have lost.  However, I could never accept giving up the amazing vision that I have for my life just to regain my missing sight.  I would never relinquish the inner strength that I have gained just to get back the strength in my arms and legs.  Without half of my world always black as night and the left-sided weakness I live with, I would never have neither gained nor held on to the ability to maintain these newfound treasures I harbor within me.  I wish that other people could understand this upon my first encounter with them.  So, is it better to let people think I am a daydreamer and laugh when I walk into light poles?  Is it better to allow them to think I hurt my leg in an accident (it was a cerebral vascular accident after all) or is it better to accept their pity and have them cast their generalized views of weakness on me so they allow room for my limitations? This is a dilemma I face often and will continue to weigh.

I warn you, do not mistake the limitations some people have as weakness.  It will only frustrate me.  Soon though, I will change my attitude allowing me even more determination to find great pleasure in proving you wrong!  And remember: Shhhh, don’t tell my secret.  I really do not want you to have to experience the unacceptable pity some people feel the need to give me.

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Comments on: "Psst I Have A Secret…go ahead-read it!" (13)

  1. I find a comfortable familarity in your sentence “They can hear the unspoken language of your body better than your hearing ears will ever allow you to understand”
    My son is non-verbal. His hearing is fine and his level of intellectual impairment is profound and after fifteen years of having to work out want he wants of me through gestures, body language and facial expression I have developed a strong ability to understand much more than a person is letting on than he or she may be sharing verbally. My son very obviously has this gift and isn’t it strange that a child with this level of disability is able to teach a parent with a university education skills that would never have otherwise been developed. I liked your article. We are experiencing a difficult period right now and I thank you for sharing these thoughts. They made me smile and feel grateful.

    • Thank you very, very much for taking your time to respond to my post. I greatly appreciate your sincere words. I always believe it is a strange, but amazing gift that we can learn life lessons from our children. Your son sounds like a great individual. Having a child such as this is an amazing treasure all its own.

      As you struggle through this time of trial and tribulation, I wish you only the best. Remember that sometimes it is a unforeseen blessing to be knocked so far down. Only in falling this far are we able to once again climb to the top of the mountain. Upon this climb, we truly learn the amazing view from the top of our mountains. Take your time climbing again and recovering . Hopefully, you will soon be back on top. Enjoy that view!

      Best Wishes,
      Tara

  2. Tara, Another amazing post from an amazing person. I have no doubt that your difficult experiences have strengthened you immeasurably, and strengthened and sharpened and focused your unaffected abilities. But I also know that the strength and wisdom and perseverance and determination and balance and sensitivity — all that good stuff — was already ALWAYS THERE WITHIN YOU. You were always this person in potentia; your stroke and your prosopagnosia and your experiences drew them out. As for your dilemma, it seems to me that it’s Zen-like. There is no answer, there is only each answer to each question. Perhaps with some people there’s even no question. So, no need for an answer. That would be relaxing.
    My best, Judith

    • Judith,

      A “Zen-line” dilemma. What an intriguing way to view this inner struggle! I never would have thought of those words for an appropriate description. Thanks for offering them!

      I always look forward to reading your replies. It brightens my day when I find them! Your thought provoking comments are always very much appreciated! I hope that you are enjoying your weekend.

      Respectfully,
      Tara

  3. Hi Ladies,
    Strange how people meet. I have had a look at your blogs just now, Judith and had I not read Tara’s words I would have missed them. Your work is so out of my world. I remember when I had a mind that questioned outside of the reality of my life. It was wonderful. I had forgotten that there exists in this world a freedom for boundless thinking. Amazing.
    I hope you are having a good day Tara. Mine just improved, school pick up for my son was a disaster today but it is raining and my son is resting quietly. this is my little space today, so I thought I would say Hi. Hi!
    Sincerely Anne

  4. Marcella said:

    Tara, when I first met you, I had no inclination that there was anything different. I saw you work so hard in your back yard, shoveling rock hard dirt in hot summer sun without a complaint. When you told me about your past, I thought what an amazing person you are and I was actually more impressed by you. I have never thought of you as a person who is incapable. You have been able to accomplish so much more than me and many, many other women. You are wonderful inside and that is the person who I know.

    • Marcella,

      What can I say to respond but awwww! Your kind words brought tears to my eyes. Thank you. Thank you so very much for this comment. I am very lucky to have a friend as strong and caring as you!

      Tara

  5. Cindy said:

    Thank you for sharing your secret. You are really inspiring. My son struggles with his health and I wish I new how to inspire him take a hold of his life like fire. Use that inner energy to not only survive, but also to embrace life. Sometimes life is what you make, may it be good or bad. Once again thanks for sharing.

    • Cindy,

      It is amazing how, old or young, it can take us so long to find our way in life. I hope that your son will find his way soon. Struggling is never easy. It takes awhile to find our purpose at times. You are a good mom for worrying about him and standing by him. We all need our moms!

      This next week’s post which I am working on is about making the good out of life. It is about getting lemons and creating lemonade. I hope that you stop back after Wednesday and enjoy reading it. Hang in there. Thank you for your kind words on my blog. I hope that your son strongly battles his health issues, finds peace and then can find his purpose.

      All My Best,
      Tara

  6. Hello. I have gone through all of your posts. Yes, all of them. I heard about you from another blogger, Bended Spoon. I am glad I came over. I gave birth to a daughter with heart defects, who passed away ten years ago. I believe it did give me a greater awareness of others who are going through things we normally would not even know about. I also am blind, and have similar sight problems as you, but most do not know it. I do not let them know, unless there is a problem with editing and things pertaining to my writing.

    I wanted to say the video you made from this post is so strong. It makes a great tool with the way you speak, and your body gestures. Some would even call it a Spoken Word piece.

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I look forward to following you. Anelisa would have had fun writing her own blog. Now I do it for her.

    Elizabeth

  7. Elizabeth,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read all of my posts and then add the extra effort of leaving such a nice comment.

    I am sorry that you lost your daughter. I can think of no greater sadness than losing a child. I would guess she would be thrilled with you writing such a nice blog for her. I loved Jim Knowles poem Parking Lot. The image he painted with his words brought out a smile. Thanks for sharing it!

    Tara

    • I will let him know.

      I look forward to following you.

      I have met so many nice people from blogging and am glad you are sharing your experience. 🙂

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