Thursday, April 18, 2013

After 20 years of Stargardts and Self discovery

Yesterday was my 30th birthday.  The importance is not so much in the number but where  my mind is at.  Over the 20+ years having stargardts my life has been a complete emotional roller coaster.  Growing up hating the world I was born into, to learning to forgive and accept who I am, to growing into who I am and just being happy for  what I have.   If you really look, my sight has only gotten worst from compared to before,  yet learning to shift my thought patterns and mentality has turned my life around.

First 10 Years
The first 10 years of my life, I was blissfully ignorant to what I would have to face in the rest of my life - Stargardt's disease.   I grew up like any other child, unaware that I would soon become legally blind.

The next 10 years 
My teen years, its not something I would ever wish upon any child.  Growing up being different is a lonely path and kids are ignorant to other's feelings.   Being visually impaired in a sighted world especially going to school will mean they will face bullying and harassment,  come face to face  with what may be the worst  in human nature.

Looking too normal means  everyone will  pick on you for being different.   But nothing is as bad as trying to survive a constant questioning of self worth, self doubt, and a bunch of other negative feelings and possibly hatred towards the world.  It's almost impossible for a child in their teens to understand what possible reasons there could be for  this (stargardts) to happen to them.    I remember asking myself what I have done to "deserve" being visually impaired. 

I spent most of my teens trying to protect everyone around the me from the darkness I felt.    I learned to lock the darkness deep within and built fortified walls around it to  keep it from escaping.  I learned to mimic smiles, to fit in, to do everything in my power  to forget the pain.   I learned to not care just so I can get by.  I couldn't bring myself to hurting myself because I felt it would cause too much pain on my family.  So I did the one thing I knew how, packed everything up and lock it deep within.

The past 10 years
I realized being numb to the world is no life to live.  I didn't have any strong feelings of happiness or sadness.  I realized I didn't want to live life being like the walking dead.   So I made a choice, took a leap of faith, I picked someone and choose to open myself up without holding back.  It was the first time I exposed myself,  first time being truly vulnerable, first time being free.    In some sense, I was lucky, if I had trusted someone who didn't accept me for who I am, perhaps I would have gone back into my shell and continued to numb myself. 

Learning to trust was difficult, learning self worth and value was a work in progress.  But making a conscious decision not to continue the life I had was what turned things around.  In that relationship, I loved, lost and learned to let myself open up little by little. 

Taking what I had learned, I wanted to help others.  I ended up trying to help a lost soul almost in a way to make up for what I didn't have.  And years gone by only to realize,I can't change my past, no matter how much I try to help others.  Bu realizing you can only help those who wants to be helped.

And finally, this past 3 years, I've tried to zoom into myself.  Understanding values, understanding vision.  I learned that perspectives will make or break a person.    Finding self value and remembering your dreams should be part of your life.     The key to liberation lies in gratitude.  The ability to see the world in a different way and mentally making the choice to believe will be the critical factor about any one person to succeed.

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