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Very recently, someone told me  in a roundabout way that I have a chip on my shoulder regarding requiring assistance from others.  After being shocked and slightly mortified by this thought, I started to think this might in fact be true.  What I decide to do about that chip, whether to ditch it all together or only use it as a fashion accessory when strictly necessary, will only come with time.

 

Everyone needs help with some things sometimes, but as it comes to needing something specifically because of my blindness, I hate being at the mercy of someone else.  Whether it’s reading a restaurant menu, filling out a medical form, using the convenience of a car rather than a long complicated bus route, or voting (hopefully next week’s blog post).  Requesting assistance with this feels so much like I am less complete, less whole of a person, that I find myself instantly on the defensive when I am required to ask for help for things like a computer not working properly, for directions to the bank, or other things that everyone needs help with sometimes.  My default mode has been “FIGHT!” for so long – fighting for education, employment, and (thankfully rarely) access challenges with my guide dog, that perhaps I don’t know how to simply just… well, to just be.  But I don’t want to go so far the other way, to expect people to do things for me that I am more than capable of doing for myself.  I fight that stereotype all the time, too, that I am not capable because I cannot see.

 

Some of these fights are external and necessary; they make us stronger, and (hopefully) educate a public who doesn’t know what to do with us, and help pave the way for those who come behind us.  Some of these fights are internal and necessary; am I, as a woman, doing all I can to be happy, healthy, productive, learning new skills and enjoying my life?  But a constant defensiveness doesn’t help anyone either; in fact, it alienates the very people we are trying to reach.  Asking for help is not, in and of itself, a sign of weakness… And yet… I still feel this way, and probably a little piece of me always will.  But my sword is being shelved for a while, because fighting myself under the guise of fighting against others is probably more exhausting than just being me.  To those I have hurt in this way, please let me know; we may not agree, and that’s OK, but I want to be viewed as a woman (not a blind woman); I crave acceptance alongside my autonomy, and may need your help to get there.  Perhaps I should take my own advice in a previous post: be quick to listen, slow to speak harshly, and keep an open mind.

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