When I first started O&M, I resigned myself to having Zelda with me at all times and using her everywhere I went. I grew to feel that if I didn’t do this, I was a bad student and an irresponsible blind person. I felt that if I was taking the time and energy to bring Z into my life and learn how to use her properly, I should use her all of the time. I started to resent the cane, to see her as a cross I had to bear rather than an aid to my safety.
Pretty much my whole life, my reaction to being told that I have to do something is to say fuck you, and go about not doing it as vigorously as possible. But, I am no longer 12 and I do have grown up moments, so I found myself in a constant quandary around Zelda. I wasn’t going to be able to employ my usual all or none way of doing things and, pathetically perhaps, it took me this long to figure out that I don’t have to.
I can use Zelda when I want to and when I feel I need to; I make the rules and I get to decide (and yes, I do realize that sounds a bit 12 years old, but I am who I am). So far, I feel that it is most beneficial for me (and unsuspecting strangers) to have Z with me and use her when I am on my own. I feel more confident walking down the street with her, shopping, on the bus etc. However, when I am out with others, I haven’t really found a need for her. My husband and my friends are really great about helping me when I need it and I feel like the cane just gets in the way; I usually bring her and she just hangs on the chair waiting for her turn around the block, which never comes.
So, I have decided that, for now, Z will be a part-time cane. I get to feel good about having her, but not chained to her when I feel that I don’t need her. I know that there will still be circumstances when I bring Z with me and she may or may not come out of her case. There are times when it is better to give myself the option; for example, when I am out with the dogs or visiting a neighbor and don’t know if I will be back before it gets dark. I definitely need Z in the dark and there have been a couple of incidents (pre Zelda) when I have had to call my husband to come and pick me up from just down the street or around the corner because it has gotten dark and I only have my sunglasses with me. Sometimes I don’t plan to be out after dark, but it happens anyway.
I think that trying to become what I believed a blind person should be, actually put me in a position where I was stripping away parts of myself and adding to my confusion about my own vision. There is not a right way to be blind; we all have different struggles and feelings and however I feel about or choose to deal with my blindness isn’t static, nothing is.
I am not sure how much vision I will have in a month or a year or 10 and I am sure that my feelings about the cane will change as my vision changes and I begin to recognize new situations in which having her would be beneficial; for now, I realize that Zelda is not a cross to bear, but an aid to utilize as I deem necessary.