Tuesday, August 10, 2010

In the Eye of the Beholder . . .

This last weekend was pretty tough for me. As I blogged earlier in the week, I had an eye infection which meant I could not wear my contacts, and as a faery, I certainly couldn't wear glasses. In the days leading up to the weekend, I envisioned tripping on rocks and tree roots and falling off of things. I was pretty nervous for Saturday, to say the least.

But, my anxieties focused on the wrong thing, as it happened. It was not inanimate objects that gave me the most trouble. As soon as I stepped through the gate and into the glen, I started to understand what would prove to be the real struggle of the day: I couldn't connect visually with anyone. I had never really appreciated how much, as a nonverbal character, I relied on just the eyes and facial expression to communicate and understand the children around me. Even from 15 feet away, you can see if a child wants you to come nearer, or is afraid, or is interested but wary. I felt the strangest sense of claustrophobia, as though I was an island in a sea of fuzzy, indistinct shapes, no perceivable emotions or reactions from anyone. I stayed out for about 30 minutes like this and then ran back to the Shack, crying, panicking. I was worried I was ignoring children who wanted my attention because I couldn't see them, that I wasn't able to pick up visual cues from people and thus couldn't react to them the way I should.

I'm glad one of the other Fantastickals was back there with me, or I probably would've ended up in a full out crying jag (ruining my makeup in the process). He gave me a little pep talk, told me to just go out there and be, and not worry about going to the kids, to let them come to me. That I was fine, and I wasn't going to upset anyone. I took some deep breaths and went back out, and tried to let the rest of the day come as it would. I walked more cautiously and got much closer to things and to people in order to make them out. It was difficult, probably one of my hardest days, but I got through it, albeit with a huge headache at the end from trying so hard to see all day.

I don't think I'll ever again take for granted how much I rely on sight in what I do at Bristol. I do not ever want to feel so isolated again. I chose to take Sunday as a patron day, and I'm glad I did.


SquirrelyMama said...

I've never worn contacts, just wear my glasses all the time. I think one of the best things that helped me get into the Brownie was not wearing my glasses. I'm not sure how bad your sight is, but just seeing everything fuzzy made me feel a lot more ethereal, like I wasn't quite part of the reality around me.

I'm glad your day went well!

Shawna M said...

You did a wonderful job! I photographed you for a while near the marshy area and it was not at all obvious that you had any problem and you were doing a great job with the munchkins nearby. You should be proud of yourself!