Gaining Vision Upon Losing My Sight
I started to live life when my sighted self died
The word “Lifeless” is not always about physical death. It might be that you are literally breathing but no longer breathe life. It is when a part of you died, and your dreams and aspirations all died with it. And just like that, life suddenly lost its meaning.
Months after my 18th birthday, it was an August morning when I finally realized that the little amount of light perception that remained had completely shut off. It happened so fast. My vision turned from perfectly sighted to low vision to total blindness in just nine months. Lupus finally robbed my sight away. I bade goodbye to my sighted self. I knew too well that this would come, yet the gradual loss of my sight never prepared me for that dreadful day of becoming totally blind.
Losing my eyesight at that point of my life was tantamount to dying. I was physically breathing but everything literally died. My active personality, my outgoing lifestyle, my plan of becoming a Nurse, my passion for visual arts and almost every single detail of who I was, I left them all behind. The most painful part was none of this was my choice. I don’t even have the luxury to choose to begin with. I was confused, angry, depressed and I literally felt like an empty shell. A lifeless moving body.
I was at my lowest and all hopes gone. I never imagined redemption would come. But life, being ever mysterious and surprising, brought another twist of fate. One that catapulted me to the sweeter side of being blind.
After two years of brooding, it was just one ordinary day when I had this urge to learn how to read and write in Braille. To my surprise, this thirst led me to learn so much more. It opened doors for me to the amazing world of accessible technologies. I learned how to use a text-to-speech application for the blind called screen reader.
This software not only allowed me to access the computer and browse the internet, but it opened new doors of opportunities. It literally made me see the world again. This application gave me back the privilege to continue my college education. Not as a Nurse but as a Computer Scientist. I finished college in a regular school with a Magna Cum Laude Latin award despite being the only blind student at that time.
Immediately after graduation, I was hired as a Software Engineer until such time that I found my way to the digital accessibility industry. It was not a surprise, for this was the same field that brought me to where I am today. So, it just made sense that sooner or later, fate will bring me to this field.
More than the diploma and paycheck, my journey as a blind person gifted me with so much more. The whole experience of becoming blind and living a sightless life was like rebirth for me. I literally felt like I was born again.
I relearned every single thing in my life. From the most basic things like eating my meals, preparing my clothes, walking, reading, writing, up to the most complex tasks like finishing college and gaining employment, I went back to square one and figured it all out day after day of being blind.
My perception in life was also morphed into something more profound. The loss of my sight taught me that all in life is temporary. All the good and the bad, they’re not permanent. I hold on to this truth especially when times are tough. I remind myself that the struggles, they too, shall pass. And when life is good, I am equally reminded to savor and treasure every single joyful moment.
My blindness also taught me to control what I can and let go what I can’t. It was never my choice to be blind, but it will always be my choice to live a happy and productive life. And it is through the elimination of limiting beliefs that I can live a productive and fulfilled life. I can easily say “I can’t do this because I’m blind” but resilience trained me to say, “I can’t do this because I’m blind but there’s definitely a workaround.” Blindness drove me to be creative and resourceful. If one way didn’t work, I will find the other hundred other ways that works.
The death of my sighted self paved the birth of a wisdom-filled life. I had a not-so-easy life. I know what hardship and difficulty tastes like. For that, I become more appreciative. Many things in my life had limits, therefore, I learned how to be content.
Life is full of surprises, so I learned to enjoy each present. Most important, I live and breathe with gratitude. I’m grateful for what was, for what is and for whatever will be.
Above all else, my blindness opened my heart to surrender to God and to hold on to his word. What he promised will forever remain true. In Jeremiah 29:11, He said, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” and these plans will be fulfilled for Christ will give us strength as promised in Philippians 4:13.
It’s not every day we hear stories of people at the prime of their youth, starting to build their dreams, life suddenly playing a joke, stealing their eyesight away, and there’s no turning back. It’s uncommon, but it’s what happened to me.
I initially saw it as a misery, a downfall, a terrible tragedy. In some ways it is, but as my new life as a blind person unfolded, it turned out to be a fantastic journey, an exciting expedition, a transformative voyage. It is one that transformed my miseries into miracles, my burdens to blessings and my trials into triumphs.
Losing my sight killed the old me, but it’s this same loss that gave birth to a new and better me. From the ashes of blindness, the fierce Phoenix in me was born and unleashed. I fell, I rose, I soared and now, I finally know how it feels to be alive.