Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fear of the Unknown (Part III)

Fearing the unknown is something we all do.  Sometimes we are thrown into situations that scare us but if we treat it right it will allow us to grow, becoming more comfortable with who we are and what we are capable of.  This is exactly what happened to me one evening last December.

My husband and I went to see Dialogue in the Dark, which I highly recommend.  I knew a little about it, what I considered was enough to know.  It is an interesting concept though and one that I was hoping to learn a little something from.  During the experience,  you are guided through different scenarios that a blind person encounters on a routine basis.  You stroll through a park, cross the street, order lunch, make other purchases, ... Not only was it to show us how physically demanding it is to not have your sight but also how much those who cannot see have to depend on those who can.  I was a little nervous about this and had already convinced myself  something was going to go wrong when the lights went out.

Bobby, our guide,  was ready for us.  He is blind.  In fact all of the guides here are visually impaired to one degree or another. You go into this experience with a handful of others.  Most seemed pretty eager to be there.  I, on the other hand, was not so sure. We were told to go into this room where acrylic cubes were arranged in a large circle.  We all found a seat.

After some instruction the lights began to dim.  I paid close attention to everything that was being said.  It's in my nature to follow rules and it's actually a comfort, especially if it's a new experience.  Rules provide boundaries.  Boundaries are a good thing.  If you follow the rules everything will be okay, or so I thought.   One thing I forgot to mention is that if all else failed I could depend on my husband to stay with me. Right?

As soon as we started the journey it was like he had disappeared.  I no longer knew where he was and I was on my own.  I wasn't counting on that.  I'm still okay though. I just need to make certain I can still hear the guide's voice. As long as I keep up with him I will be able to do that.  I tried to listen for my husband's voice.  His voice was distant but I could hear him having a good time up ahead of me. That's all that matters, right?

The voices started getting farther and farther away.  I heard the faint voice of the guide telling us not to go through any doors and to stick with the group.  Okay, I can do that but everyone sounded so far away.  I was trying to catch-up but it didn't seem like I was making progress.  I found myself tripping over things. Finally I hear the guide's voice get a little louder saying,"We are about to enter a room.  Remember don't go through any doors that aren't already opened for you."

 I then realized I was no longer just at the end of the line. I was by myself.  Panic started to set in.  I was still in the room that was full of closed doors.  I kept thinking to myself that the rest of the group cannot be too far ahead, although I really didn't believe it.   I began feeling my way around encountering door jambs every couple of feet, or so it seemed.  It was a small room and yet I could not find a way out because I was not supposed to "go through any doors that aren't open." I tried to recall why and quickly remembered that all of those doors lead out to the parking lot. It was dark outside and we were in downtown Atlanta. I didn't think that was a good combination for me to be caught up in.  That's when true panic set in.  Not only was I using my cane but also my hands to find my way out as I was saying to myself,"This is exactly what I thought would happen.  Where is my husband and why do I not hear voices any longer."

Frantically,  I took the cane around every angle of the room.  Still not finding a way out I began crying.  The crying turned to sobbing.  I just sat in what I perceived to be the middle of the room until I could cry no longer.  Still no one came.    I felt so lost and all alone. Then all at once I heard a voice in my head that said," Pick yourself up and open the nearest door."  I had exhausted all of my other options so that's exactly what I did.  

Same picture just different lighting

Before I let the door close behind me I listened for clues as to what might be on the other side.  Silence. Through the door I went. After a few steps I began to hear voices that sounded as if they were above me, still so far away.  After following those voices I was able to rejoin the group.  I wanted to scream I was so happy.  I also wanted to scream at my loving husband because he apparently had no idea what I had just gone through.  I am glad I went through what I did but it totally rocked my world.  It taught me to have a little more faith in myself, a little less dependence on others and that in the end it's all okay. Don't be afraid of the dark because you are never alone. 

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