If being blind meant you had to belong to a club, I would have been chucked out long ago. I am that member that would not only forgot to turn up to meetings, but I would also forget that I belonged to that club. Forgetting I cannot see is an occupational hazard of this professional daydreamer and I don’t think that will ever change. Many people ask how I forget that I am blind. It is so easy to do so as I have known no difference. When I pick up a book in a book shop and try and read the title, it is only then that I remember I cannot see it and wonder why I am in there in the first place. To be fair, it is usually because Minster Munch has fancied going in for a sniff and I follow. I must have the only shopaholic Guide Dog in the world.
Growing up I never really stopped to think that I could not see. I thought that although I could not read the blackboards or the old Overhead Projectors in school even when I was in the front row in class, I thought that there was no real problem. When I asked friends to whisper to me what the teacher had written, I thought this was normal. Learning to count doors along the corridor to get to the right one as I could not see numbers, helped me to get to where I needed to be. Learning exactly where products were in shops after much rehearsal, helped me blend in with sighted customers. When I lived by these strategies, I totally forget the original reason why I was acting like this. I forgot I had a visual impairment.
All these memories came back to me recently when we had to contact the police due to a work-related incident. I was asked to provide a description of an individual and had to say to the operator I didn’t know. He was a little perplexed how I could not describe the individual until I remembered I was blind. Uttering the words “Oh yes, sorry I am blind so cannot see her” made the poor operator stutter in embarrassment and jolted my memory that I belonged to my long forgotten blind club. I never cease to amaze myself on how scatty I can be sometimes.
When I think back over my life I realize that I have kept my sight loss a secret to the outside world unintentionally. Growing up in a visually distorted world, I thought as a young child that this was how everyone could see. It was only as I grew up that I realized that people could see things that I could not. By this time, it felt a little too late to randomly blurt out that I could not see even though I wore the thickest glasses ever. My sight loss then became kind of a secret not only to others but to my conscious mind. When I am told even today that I do not act blind I take that as a compliment. Keeping this secret helped me practice gratitude of everything I achieved in life independently regardless of my lack of vision.
Being blind is just one element of me and does not define me. Keeping this secret from others has been fun. It has all changed now though, as my beautiful unique Minster Munch attracts lots of attention and kind of gives my secret away. When I am asked by people who stop to talk to us, if I am training him as I don’t look blind, I sometimes get so tempted to fib and say yes. There is something quite fun about living in the world and finding your own unique way of blending in. This Secret Blind has so many stories about that fun of blending in, I am just wondering where to start.