My husband tells the story of how he lost his sight ten years ago. Contrary to what many people imagine, he didn’t transition from being sighted to blind overnight. It took four years before he came out the other side and better adjusted to the massive change that had impacted him.
As with anything that shakes our foundations, whether it’s sight loss or other physical trauma, bereavement or loss, financial, job-related or another significant change, it takes time to find a new way forward.
I do believe change is a massive opportunity. Often horrible at the time, I’m convinced that even the blackest clouds do eventually have a silver lining.
Chris is the first to say that being blind has opened doors that wouldn’t have been available to him had he remained sighted. It’s unlikely that he and I would have met had he not lost his sight.
A few years ago I was fascinated by the phases of change. I journaled extensively about the end i.e. the moment of the change, trauma or (usually) enforced new direction. It’s the rug pulled from under our feet, it’s the gaping chasm ahead of us whose final destination is unknown. We are, of course, in the void. That place of no man’s land. We can’t go back. Often there is no way back. We have no idea what the future holds. We might hope for something but it’s not in our gift at that stage to see our journey’s end.
Being human, many of us struggle to sit in the void. We’re impatient. We also try to recreate life as it was before but life has changed irrevocably.
I’ve found myself trying to work. If I sit at my computer and do something seemingly constructive, it will move me forward.
As I made the decision to leave my dayjob, I had allsorts of dreams and plans of what life would look like. I’d be at the gym every day. I’d walk twice a day. I would spend my days writing, taking photographs and gardening. I’d have an infallible morning routine where I got up at 06:00, drank lemon water and meditated. I’m still working on it!
What really happened was that I created a never ending to do list of things I had to do and took myself down the rabbit hole of replicating a 9 to 5.
As Chris did when he went blind, I have to allow my body and brain to catch up and recalibrate for this new set of circumstances.
When you lose your sight, your brain tries to process non-existent images. Chris talks about hallucinations of birds flying at him when he sat in the garden, taps of running water in the kitchen or items on the work surfaces. While he found it interesting, none of these visions were real. He also experienced involuntary muscle spasms, nausea and anxiety. There was a part of the process over which he had no control.
While we would like to think that we can control everything in our lives, we simply can’t. As someone who likes to be in control, I know I need to learn to go with the flow over the coming months and allow the future to unfold.
I used to say that, in this type of circumstance, being in the void takes around 90 days. I’ve still got several weeks to go!
The void is the gap that creates the bridge between the end and the new beginning.