Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Oh, I See...

...



Today, Robb and I went to Eyewise to see our awesome eye doctor Alex.  Robb needed new reading glasses, and my own glasses were so scratched that I needed to replace the lenses. 

The rest of the afternoon was spent hiding in the house, waiting for our pupils to return to a normal size. Going into our lovely sunny backyard was like walking into a Hollywood version of the afterlife.  It was all white light and impossibly high contrast.

For whatever reason, getting my eyes examined sparked off a chain of memories, and let me see things in a light that I had never considered before. And, I'm sad to say, it wasn't a very favorable light.


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When I was a pre-teen, my mother took me to the eye doctor.  I had an examination, and it was determined that I needed glasses.  And then between the actual exam and the picking out of the glasses, my mother and I got into some kind of a fight. Goodness knows what it was about.  I don't recall.  What I do remember is that my mother dragged me out into the parking lot.  She was furious, and I was told that she would not be buying me glasses.

Now, I had no context for my vision, or really any other part of my life.  I saw and experienced the world the way I always had.  Having nothing to compare myself to, things just seemed normal.

I suppose that when I went to get a driver's license, the issue of my eyesight would have come up again.  But I did not learn to drive as a teenager.  My father did not teach me to drive.  He was a good guy, but no teacher.  He had no patience for people who lacked skill, and no aptitude for teaching. 

My mother (a renowned teacher) and I would get into fights because I was apparently too difficult to teach.  Her standard practice for in-car fights was to dump me on the side of the road, with no pocket money, and no clue where I was.  My mother did this all the time.  We'd get into some kind of fight, and she'd kick me (or my sister) out of the car.  My mother was a master at the Power Game.  She had all the power, and my sister and I, being children, had none.  She'd abandon us on the side of the road, and if we didn't find out way home in a reasonable period of time, she'd either double back, find us and then beat the hell out of us, or she'd call the police and report us "missing."  I'll never forget the humiliation of these episodes.  One time I was sobbing on the side of the road, and a substitute teacher from my school recognized me, pulled over, and drove me home.  When I when I think of that now, I feel positively queasy with shame.  (Of course, I now wonder how it was that no adult ever stepped in to help me and my sister.  It was a different time, then.  Family matters were Private, and there was simply no discussion of domestic issues. )


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I didn't get glasses until after I had finished college.  Friends convinced me that I could afford glasses, and I bought myself an eye exam and some remarkably chic specs.  I'll never forget looking out my apartment window in Baltimore, and marveling at how far I could see.  It made me really sad to realize how much I had been missing.
Remarkably, it was only yesterday that I really saw about how perverse it was for a parent to withhold something as basic as proper vision from their child.  I imagine I just didn't let myself think about those sorts of things, because as a child, I just had no say in the matter.

It's stunning how wrong it looks to me, in hindsight.

11 comments:

Heather said...

You know, my own eye exam experiences have really impacted how I handle my daughter's vision care. My mother had a very similar nature to yours, I've found, though in my case I DID have teachers insist that I needed glasses. Her resentment of this interference was pretty extreme, and we all know who caught the brunt of that! She retaliated by forcing me to wear the cheapest, ugliest glasses she could find, after drawn out humiliating and demeaning scenes in the glasses place, so that I spent my entire life feeling horribly shamed by needing them. Snort. I perhaps overcompensate now by letting my kid pick WHATEVER glasses she likes (OK, we do negotiate her choice a bit, I really am done with spiderman now)and I never check the price. She tends to wear glasses that cost 3 times what mine do, though to be fair, she makes them last for YEARS. One day, I will splurge on silly sparkly juicy couture or something. It's just so important to me that she like them so much that she never "minds" wearing them. Foolishness, I suppose.

Have you read Brene Brown? I know I'm a lurker here, but I always think of you as a very whole-hearted person, deeply able to show intense love for those dear to you. That's a great talent. I hope this observation by a stranger isn't too intrusive, but I wanted you to know, it's what I see in you.
Hea XX

Anonymous said...

I am sorry you have such a sad memory, but am so happy you grew up to be a lovely, giving person.

((hugs))

Traveling Garden Gnome

Hotly Spiced said...

Oh, I left a comment. I don't know if it was deleted or is blocked waiting approval.

Anonymous said...

Your mom sounds a lot like my mom...very brave of you to post this here. I hope you find it healing.

I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if I had been given a better start, one without abuse from both parents and my older sibling, because I am really such a slacker and hate myself much of the time. This post make me think that I need to move on, because you are such a wonderfully creative, energetic, and talented person, and you obviously didn't get a great start either.

Love your blog Lisa...keep moving forward and thank you so much for sharing. I hope someday to meet you, rob, and your houseful of kitties. (((hugs)))

Rozebud

Debbie said...

Lisa, I'm sorry that happened to you. I had a mother like that, too, only our big issue was my weight. I'm 5'9" tall and at 19 I weighed 155 lbs. My mother constantly attacked me about my weight because she was 5'11" tall and probably weighed 115 lbs soaking wet. Looking back on it she was probably anorexic along with her other mental problems. One time she took me into a dress shop and picked a dress out that was three sizes too small for me and then said to me in front of the clerk, "You could wear this if you weren't so fat!" I'm 60 years old now and I still hear that in my head.

Sarcasmo AQ said...

You guys write my favorite blog to read and lead such interesting lives. I am certain that the hardships you have suffered have only fueled you, as you seem to have very creative, yummy and beautiful ways to spend your energy. I'm sorry to read of you terrible experiences. Keep on doing the good things you do, we enjoy reading about your pastoral/urban life and all the recipes and bee-doings and home improvements, set designs and all knitty things. Your perspective on things is truly unique. I can't wait to read your novel one day!
Di Hixson TN

pittmanaa said...

Sorry about your upbringing. For me, it was not that I was neglected but I was demeaned. My mother would call me lazy all the time...as a rebellious teenager, I got to the point where I believed that since nothing was expected of me - because of my laziness...I didn't need to do anything; I did do well in school, bdw. Even today I have trouble keeping house. Not because I am lazy; I keep myself occupied in many projects...but because I procrastinate, a lot!... when it comes to house work. It is amazing what damage a few ill spoken words can do! Erela

Kaaren said...

I was *just* talking to my boss today about my getting glasses junior year of high school. It wasn't because I didn't want them. I just never knew I needed them. I thought everyone saw the way I did. One day driving with mom and my sisters, one sis looked down the road, read a sign and said "They're having a sale at Penny's." I asked "You can see that?" to which mom replied "You can't?"

That weekend, mom spent money we did not have (single mom, 3 daughters, dead beat ex/dad) on an eye exam and the ugliest pair of pink plastic glasses ever. My pick. :)

I remember staring at trees. They had individual leaves!

K said...

What a lovely person you are, Lisa. Sending a hug and warm thoughts from across the country.

Stefaneener said...

Oh, honey! Not just the glasses, but the dumping seems beyond the pale. Really, really beyond the pale. You are simply much better than this - by now you know this.

Seems like a lot of vision was clarified. . .

Anonymous said...

I wonder why some are able to escape the chain of abuse and others seem bound by it. I wonder too what basic needs were denied your mother and how many public dumps she endured. Maybe it was much worse for her even and what she gave you was basically a gross improvement over the life she knew.

I only ponder these things because my youngest two were adopted out of neglect and abuse. Even though they have been in a safe and stable home for 7 years now, the kids themselves are still very abusive to their family, pets, and piers. Despite years of therapy, programs, and interventions; the best and more than we could afford; the children still act out of the pain from their earliest experiences. My children, even at such a young age, have become abusers themselves.

I wish I knew why some can overcome; and some don't; so that I could heal my young children and prevent the spread of further abuse.

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