Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

There was this Mom picking her kids up one day early in the school year.  A man walks by, smiles kindly and says hello.  The next day, the same man walks by with thin rimmed glasses, a plaid shirt and khaki slacks and not only says hello but this time raises a hand for a high-five from the youngest girl which she returns with a big smile.  A block later the mom says, “Who was that man?  Do you know him?”  Both daughters look up with joyful eyes smiling.  They were waiting for the punch line.  “Mom,” the youngest says, “that was my teacher last year!”  They both giggle and continue walking.  I smile helping them believe I was being silly again.  I smile at the joke I never meant to tell.

This was not a joke though.  This was not a story to humor my little ones after a long day at school.  This was a reality I face too often.  People I should know, familiar individuals whom I have spent many days conversing with, are no longer familiar to me.  I laughed at my presumed silliness, but I also shake my head considering how many friendly relationships I have passed by when someone assumes I am ignoring them or not responding in a friendly, familiar manner.  As I quietly passed by the former teacher, he probably assumed I wanted nothing to do with him now that he was no longer part of our everyday lives.  That was untrue.  He seemed to be a very nice man.  I was not trying to be unfriendly as I cautiously glanced at him giving a high five to my child.  I was just unaware we had met before.

This distance and difficulty in fostering friendships is also noticed online.  Social media is a good way to reconnect and open doors to people from the past that miles have left distant.  Last fall, I became active in the world of Facebook.  I was excited to find people from years ago.  I found that even this connection of not being face-to-face still held challenges due to my lack of ability to recognize people.  I remember putting in names of long-ago friends.  There were multiple results for some of the people.  Every result within this list had a photo next to it.  None of these faces looked familiar.  No connections were to be made in the instances where multiple results came in for a single name.  Even through words, even through distance, the effects of prosopagnosia continues to follow me.

I will continue trying to reconnect with people from my past and those I have just met.  I will continue laughing at the “jokes” people around me assume I tell.  There are no outward signs of having prosopagnosia.  I seem silly.  I appear to be absent-minded.  Regretfully, sometimes I appear rude.  To some I may even appear to be standoffish.  I really don’t mind if you laugh with me.  I just hope you won’t mind if I ask for your name a dozen times…or maybe two.

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Comments on: "The Joke I Never Told" (8)

  1. Thank you so much for reminding me and your other readers of the many challenges you encounter. It helps so much.

    When you shared about people sometimes thinking you are rude or standoffish it reminded me to not be so quick to judge others.

    My husband only has one eye and does not see well at all. He is legally blind. One time we visited a small church. People were shaking hands with each other at the end of the service. A black man held out his hand to shake my husband’s hand, but my husband didn’t see Him,so he did not take his hand. The man looked hurt and offended. I had to hurry and have my husband shake his hand. Then I told the man about my husband’s vision problem. You would think I would be less quick to judge others, but I still forget. I need reminders.

    Thank you for sharing this informative post.

    Blessings,
    Theresa

    • Theresa,

      I feel your husband’s pain. I have lost my left peripheral sight, so I never notice people reaching out their right hands to shake mine.

      Greeting time used to be my favorite part of church. Now I dread it. I cannot imagine the amount of people I have unintentionally ignored when they were trying to shake my hand. I also am curious about how many people I have greeted multiple times thinking it was the first time I said hello. While I laugh about it later, it makes for rather uncomfortable interactions at the time.

      I hope that your are doing well. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and comment on this post. And, I have first-hand knowledge about how appreciated it is that you help your husband become more comfortable in what can be a rather uncomfortable situation!

      Tara

  2. Your words remind me to keep an open heart toward all people that we encounter in our public travels: friends, clerks, strangers, etc. It is tempting, perhaps, to believe the worst of a person when they SEEM aloof, or even snippy. I think it is a trait of human nature that we want to make everything about “us”—like, “Oh, that person didn’t say hello to me because he doesn’t like me!” Yet you remind us that, so often, a person’s behavior has nothing really to do with us. Maybe it is a bad day, maybe a pleasant daydream, maybe tiredness, maybe even prosopagnosia. Who knows? The point you make here is this: keep an open heart, don’t judge, look beyond the surface for what is really going on. A great reminder.

    • Sarah,

      Your open heart makes having a disability in an able world a little easier. You are always so kind and open to interactions.

      It is a joy when I have the chance to get out and visit with you. One way a prosopagnosia patient can easily identify people is by the warm smile that holds their glance. You offer this. Your open heart and familiar kindness are greatly appreciated!

      Tara

  3. Sweet Tara . . .thank you so much for sharing about the challenges you face and things you have to deal with that so many know nothing about. It’s really humbling. You are so dear about it, thinking of how the other person must feel, not about how it makes you feel. Wish I could give you a smile and a hug multiple times a day, every day. You are precious. God bless you!

    • I felt your hug Debbie, and I greatly appreciate it.

      The experiences I have been touched with have offered me unique insight to invisible struggles I never would have thought of before. Now I can never let these lessons go.

      For this reason and so many others, I am thankful!

      It was great to hear from you. Thank you very much for taking the time to leave a wonderful comment!

      Tara

  4. My mind and heart are broadened each time I read your story. Thank you and no need to ask for my name a dozen of times. I’ll introduce myself each time we meet. Hugs and love to you. Rea here 🙂

    • Rea,

      I would welcome the opportunity to meet you. 🙂 One great thing I have discovered in the blogging world is the delightful friends we get to meet.

      Seeing your kind words always bring me joy! Thanks for stoping by. I can’t wait to go and check out your latest and greatest quote.

      Tara

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