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* There is an entry on the Summer Solstice (corrected text) at https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/well-this-is-embarrassing/
I had planned to write about the down period I was in. Even though I am happy, happier than I ever have been in my life, there still are times when the old beliefs about myself seem to get stronger, and, once again, life is a struggle. The struggle, though, is conducted with a background of self-acceptance and happiness rather than one of despair, self-hatred, and deep misery. It makes a big difference.
Now I have traversed that rough spot in the road, and I can look back at the process.
The trigger was a flashback to being ordered at knife-point not ever to tell, and my depressive feelings were the emergence of old beliefs about myself, lies that I was told decades ago. . Although I thought I would have to work through those old-tape issues on a deeper level, the mood lifted by itself after I made another big decision.
I knew I was approaching the day when I would need to stop driving, but I was not sure how soon it would be. I decided to be evaluated by a professional and get an objective opinion. Then I would have data to base my decision on, and I would know if I needed to start planning for a wheel-less future.
It turned out that my vision is a lot worse than I thought it was. I have had cataract surgery in both eyes, and my distance vision is so much better. I can read more street signs, colors are brighter, and objects in the distance look crisp and clear. I am delighted with the results. I was also pleased when my eye doctor told me that once eye was 20/25 and the other 20/30. The evaluation, however, showed a different story.
My depth perception sucks. And my ability to see objects in low contrast situations is even worse. Before the road test, my vision was tested indoors on a bright overcast day, in natural light. I was shown a piece of white paper with large letters on it. On the first line, the letters were black. The next line was dark grey, and then each line got lighter and lighter. I could only see letters half-way down the page!! I almost believed that there was nothing on the bottom of the page. What you don’t see doesn’t exist…sure. I know better.
Overall, the tests showed that, in those conditions, one eye was 20/40 and the other one was just a little better than 20/40. Maybe 20/38. The cut-off point for the DMV is 20/40. I asked how long the evaluator thought I could still drive. He hesitated and said, “Perhaps a year, but your license expires in September, and you might not pass the eye exam.”
The discrepancy between the two eye tests can be explained by the fact that I have age-related macular degeneration. In this condition, the light-sensing cells in the middle of the retina gradually die off, and it becomes progressively harder to see objects straight ahead. The brighter the light, the better the vision. In the office, the room lights are off, and black letters are shown on a brightly back-lit screen, giving maximum contrast. At my dining room table, where the evaluation took place, there was only ambient light.
At night, I am aware of dark spots in the center of my vision. During the day, I can’t yet see them, but, obviously, they really affect my vision.
Okay, back to my depressed mood. Given that I am almost illegal to drive, I made the decision to stop driving immediately and avoid the possibility of an accident. I would be devastated if I hit somebody – I was forced to hurt enough people in my childhood to last several lifetimes.
This is a huge decision. It means depending on others for transportation and, since there was no one to depend on except myself in my childhood, accepting help from others is very difficult for me. There’s a lot of grief in losing independence, giving up driving anywhere I want anytime I want, and saying goodbye to my faithful old car.
But it turns out to be an incredibly empowering decision. I, me, myself, myselves, stopped driving. Nobody told me to, nobody forced me. I did it to protect myself and to protect others, and I am convinced it is the right decision. I am taking care of myself and learning a whole new way of being in the world. I feel in control, capable, strong.
This feeling is the antithesis of how I felt as a child with a knife at my throat. I couldn’t have planned a more effective way of turning off those old tapes.
P.S. A couple of tips I learned from the evaluator. These aren’t just for people with low vision; everybody can benefit from them.
There are mirrors that clip onto the rear view mirrow and the side mirrors. They diminish the size of the blind spots and are really helpful. They are inexpensive and available at any autoparts store.
You can also buy a shield to put over the top of the dashboard. Or you can simply can cut a piece of black cloth – remember to leave a hole for the speedometer. This eliminates the distracting reflection of the dashboard in your front window.
5/12 Mothers’ Day
5/18 Full moon
5/27 Memorial Day
6/9 – 6/10 Pentecost
6/16 Father’s Day
6/17 Full moon
6/20 Corpus Christi/Feast of the Body of Christ
6/21 Summer solstice
6/23 Midsummer’s Eve
6/24 St John’s Day
7/2 Total solar eclipse. Visible in parts of South America
7/4 Fourth of July/ US Independence Day
7/16 Full moon
July 16 – 17 Partial lunar eclipse. Visible in South America, Africa, most of Europe and Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.
7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God
Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
6/6 D-Day: invasion of France in WW2
7/29 Hitler proclaimed leader of the Nazi party
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes)