I Turned off Those Old Tapes!

* Detailed instructions for making comments are in “News Items.”

* 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.


Upcoming Holidays

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)



7 thoughts on “I Turned off Those Old Tapes!

  1. Hi Jean,
    Just wanted to drop in a comment here letting you know how proud I am of the choices you made and the way you justified them for yourself. My abused past is very different from yours, I know you know that, but I do recognize the almost impossible feeling of having to reach out to your friends and family for assistance; let alone actually accepting the help! I have many instances where I should be accepting my husband’s help with the lovely gestures he offers, like carrying all the groceries inside or taking my arm to steady me if I am not feeling well. My first instinct is to brush it off and tell him I’M FINE. I CAN DO THIS ALL ON MY OWN – which is the narrative I have to tell myself like a never-ending mantra in my mind for most of my life.

    That you made a safe and wise decision for yourself without anyone ‘making’ you, that will keep you (and others) safe to any potential accidental harm, is so inspiring and takes a strength that many would never understand.

    I’m not sure where you are in the world, but here in Canada there are many services that will provide transportation to medical and other necessary health-related appointments for people who are no longer driving due to medical or mobility reasons. Should you ever be interested in what might be available around you (even if you live in a rural area) let me know – I can email you from my work address and connect you with on a professional level (name, actual address or phone number are not required – so don’t worry, NO personal info will be ever needed) and I can connect you to resources in your State or Province – so long as you life in North America. :).

    Just an offer – if you would rather not, skip this part and just read the first two paragraphs! *much love to you!*. So proud you made a decision for YOU that will make YOU more safe and on YOUR terms. Lots more of that needed in your world (and so many others as well) xoxo


    1. The form of childhood abuse may be different, but the process of dealing or not dealing with it is the same.

      I really resonate with what you wrote. I am almost insulted when somebody offers to help. It brings that same stiffening stance and immediate rejection. Aging, however, gives lots of opportunities to practice. It helps if I remind myself that help is being offered out of love and is not a trick.

      I live in the US in a large city with good Paratransit services. They will take me to appointments and grocery stores, etc. I’m in the process of applying. I’m sure I will be accepted, as I have arthritis and can only walk half a block without resting, so it is very difficult indeed to use public transportation. It’s a long application and it takes 3 weeks to process.

      I’m touched that you offered to help and that you were concerned about my privacy. It was very generous of you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations, Jean! what a wonderful story of empowerment! I like it when we can make decisions because we want to, not because we have to.


    1. well…I did have to. I only got to choose when, but that was enough to make me feel empowered.

      This is cynical, but anyway … It’s sort of like hurting yourself before they hurt you – beating them to the punch. Not that that ever worked.


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