Friday, December 30, 2005

Why the "Look Good" Can Be Lethal.

I am once again confronted with a very painful reality. I have to re-apply for Medi-Cal, California's MediCaid program. Whatever good things I've done, felt and or learned over the past twelve months are blown away by an agonizing dose of guilt, shame, and self-loathing. I was told by various members of my family: a) I have courage (to dare) to believe I can achieve anything and b) the reality is: I will never amount to anything because I'm blind and that condition is hopeless.

I have to fight this river of rage and pain the hardest when I'm facing the tedious "fill out the twenty pages of forms to prove to us that you are screwed-up enough to deserve our help." Don't get me wrong, this is a government system with myriad regulations, like The IRS. Many seriously dedicated workers give it their best, to dole out help where it is truly needed, the most. I also confront our American Individualism and can-do spirit. The implication: if you aren't able to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, you are morally deficient. At this moment in time, I revisit grief work and a very hard struggle to maintain my faith in God and life. I know it will pass. Prayer and the continuing love of friends both soothe this brief moment of pain.

While trolling my records to get the relevant facts and figures for my Medi-Cal application, a blind friend called. I alerted her to my pain and she admitted she'd felt the same way, but was able to get over it via acceptance and positive affirmations.

I then questioned why no other disabled person, I've dealt with, was willing to acknowledge these strong and negative feelings. I've read thousands of pages of recovery stories and this is never discussed. She said that no one is willing to put that kind of vulnerability in a book. I get angry about this. This total silence leaves me believing I'm the only one so backward as to be having these issues. If standing before you in my vulnerability will help you not to toy with the idea of ending your life. I will sally forth with brutal honesty. My friend feels my desire to be that helpful is twisted and my utter lack of awareness of how to act appropriately.. She hasn't done time in a lock-down psychiatric ward watching trees tippy-toe through a parking lot, hunched over and being sneaky. This problem of feeling isolated and defective has driven me to suicidal thinking, more then once. I know I am not alone in this. I'm absolutely alone in being willing to get in your face and speak about it.

I stand by the idea, that playing the 'look good' game can drive people to suicide. I've read numerous accounts of the crushing loneliness of closeted gays, psychiatric patients and civil rights trail-blazers. Our society is withdrawing support for the poor at many levels. The days of long-term therapy are over. Somebody has to be willing to tell it as it is. I can only speak for myself, but I am creating something I could have used during my twenty years of wanting to kill myself, with no clue as to why.

Having a disability is hard. There are techniques where you can do many things, but you are never going to be able to beat the able-bodied at their own game. Yes, I can use a computer and create a blog, but the time needed for me to function, compared to a fully sighted person is about three to one. This is why 75% of the blind aren't working enough to support themselves. I have always understood this condition to be a factor of economics, rather than prejudice. Lately, however, I'm beginning to wonder if the prejudice angle might be part of the problem.

Now that I use a walker and have to verbally explain my visual difficulties, I realize that I can't even think of applying for a house keeping job, unless the person already knows me, and has seen me operate somewhere, like at church. I grieve this, but I understand it is just another factor of my life. I have a choice as to how big a problem I choose to make my difficulties into. But, I still get side-swiped by the pain. Somewhere I learned that I'm not really disabled, and if I just work hard enough I can 'beat it". This is probably first and foremost, my own absolute denial because of my family's negativity. This is also what my parents and teachers wanted me to believe. This position completely ignores reality. The truth is, that trying to deal with blindness by claiming it is "just like having a broken arm", can break a person's spirit. I have been broken and I see many others broken. Crushed by the reality that, no matter how hard they try, it isn't working and they never leave Social Security, or have to come back to it, after working marginally.

Religion, has taught me a healthier mental perspective. Logic says I'll probably never be able to support myself. As inflation increases, my ability to even provide shelter for myself will disappear. I'll probably die poorer than I am now, and at the mercy and as a ward of the state. I actually didn't start healing in this area, until I seriously accepted these circumstances as my actual or "real" life. I then made the choice to craft my life to be, interesting, fun and of service to others. Religion gives me the courage to seriously try and get ready for a job, in spite of what logic says. "God can make a way out of no way" is true. But in His time, with His conditions and my trust in Him, with or without a job. Attitude is everything. It is scary to jump out on this limb, but I'm not turning back. I know somehow, I'm accomplishing part of what I'm here to do. As an adult I have to stand for my beliefs and be willing to be responsible for the reaction to my beliefs. Some folks call this kind of blog, the modern exhibitionism. I call it a path for a few, who can relate. A way out of a terror you can't find words for. A candle in a dark room. I healed because my therapist revealed all of himself, in relation to anything I was struggling with. That honesty led me out of hell. I guess this is my way of passing on what was given to me.

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