As I began to take my first steps toward my hoped for full recovery from the blindness of my right eye, I began, simultaneously, a one year journey of conscious healing. During this period I would allow myself to refine and direct my already well-defined practices of meditation, contemplation and reflection. What I would add to these would be an enhanced, consistent mindfulness regarding certain key issues; my emotions, psychological patterns and spirituality, that I hold to be critically interwoven with my physical well-being.
I have kertaconus, an apparent hereditary-based eye disease that causes a diseased cornea to develop into a cone shape rather than retaining its normal, healthy curve. I also have had numerous, intermittent episodes of hysterical blindness, also known as conversion episodes, a certain type of stress reaction followed by severe attacks of diminished eye sight.
To date I can identify about a dozen or more of these episodes over my lifetime; each one following a particular pattern. Some of these have been documented at Johns Hopkins world-renowned Wilmer Eye Institute, dating back as far as 1978. The episodes are, each one, in and of itself, uniquely worthy of in-depth discussion, but I will reserve that for a later time, if appropriate.
I know that my recent experience on the operating table, undergoing my seventh cornea transplant, merits my wholly embracing the physical healing I am presently undergoing. I also have come to realize that this event, wherein the cornea of a newly deceased person is now alive and well in my body, is also truly deserving of my paying attention to the accompanying emotional, psychological and spiritual healing I am now going through, accompanying the physical.
I have been living with threatened blindness from keratoconus since I was a junior in college. My eye problems have been routinely and effectively managed since by top ophthalmologists. I, also, since I was eight years old, been living under mortal threat, if I dared to “see” what my mentally ill mother did not want me to see. Initially the threat was inflicted on me in real time. Eventually I continued to be defenseless to that which was still embedded in my psyche; images and feelings, that could, when triggered, derail my best attempts to bypass them.
The challenge to surmounting these terrorizations has often been truly death-defying. And, as it has turned out, over time, I became the only known “expert” I could find to address this aspect of my vision problems. Being a trained psychotherapist, I think I have done an admirable job of being both patient and healer for this aspect of my eyesight afflictions. Now I am ready for the “advanced” course of this healing. Thus in the year ahead, as I heal, body-mind and spirit, from a lifetime of threats to my eyesight as well as my life and my VISION I am going to be even more proactive on this issue than ever before.
Alberto Valvo, a noted opthomologist, in his book, "Sight restoration after long-term blindness: the problems and behavior patterns of visual rehabilitation," quotes, as follows, from a (rarely) recovering blind patient --
"One must die as a sighted person to be bom again as a blind person."Prominent neurologist, Oliver Sacks, draws on this statement in his article, "TO SEE AND NOT SEE" expanding upon the original comment with his own version --
“...and the opposite is equally true: one must die as a blind person to be born again as a seeing person.”I have encountered both of these transitions in my lifetime; dying as a sighted person to be born again as one who is blind and that of dying as a blind person to be born again as one who is sighted. Of the two, it is the latter; dying as a blind person and being born again as one who sees, that I have found the more difficult.
With that in mind, as I now proceed on my healing journey, with “a wonderful new cornea,” as my ophthalmologist, Dr. John Gottsch, told me repeatedly before, during and after my recent surgery – I am now intent on completing the latter transition, moving from non-seeing identity to being a fully seeing person to the best of my ability, with an expanded agenda.
Speaking truth to power, increasingly, is going to be a key part my healing journey. This, as it turns out, is one of the most restorative paths I could take; abuse of the power over me as a small child by my mother brought on my hysterical blindness, I feel certain. I was instructed “not to see” what I see. Today I choose to see everything I can! And, I will choose to speak more and more of what I "SEE" (as nicely as I can). But speak I will!
Taking back my full, G-d given powers will be my release, I believe.
I am hoping you will also join me in this health giving undertaking upon which I am now embarking, as I know, even if you cannot yet “see” it, that none of us humans fully escapes “not seeing” sometimes. We all have blind spots. And we very much need one another to help us through the Darkness to find the brightest Light.
So please come along with me on an adventure to “awe” that only truth, yours, mine and ours, collectively, can produce. If nothing else, we can all use a good dose of practicing speaking truth to power. And listening to it, sometimes, to help adjust ourselves on occasion.