Wide Spot: Fog Blind

I am blind. This is legally true—without glasses, my eyes are so bad that I should only be behind the wheel if I have a guide dog on my lap who has a driving license. Fog exacerbates my vision problems. Driving Highway 6 in the dark and the fog is hard enough; when another car comes toward me, it’s horrid. I keep my eyes down, glue them to the faint line at the edge of the road, and hope that the other car is not drifting. It’s a hell of way to travel, half-blind and terrified.

And that’s just when I’m in the car.

Because it is also true that I am metaphorically blind. Sometimes I find it almost impossible to see what I don’t want to see. Life becomes a drive through thick fog: murky vapors make ghostly patterns that befuddle me, the road is obscured by hard wear, the only bright lights seem to blind rather than illuminate, and there is no way to see to what’s ahead by more than a few feet.

Sometimes if I get too close to an uncomfortable truth, my mind will brown out—simply slip to the side and think of something else. For me, denial is not a river in Egypt but an internal setpoint. I’m constitutionally inclined to ignore what is uncomfortable. Even now, after years of work, I sometimes slide to the side for a while. I have to come back at difficult things repeatedly in order to take them in. 

People tell me that what I’m experiencing when I freeze like this is triggered trauma. I have hesitated to use this terminology because “I was triggered” often seems to be an excuse for bad behavior. However, there is a body of research that helps people work with trauma in order to change it. And for “change it,” you should read, “change myself.” I can’t do a damn thing about the past; I can only change how I respond to things in the present. I can change myself so I don’t live out the same story over and over. That’s what healing from trauma consists of: noticing where you react in a way that’s not healthy for yourself and others, and doing the hard work to change that behaviour.

If you’re interested, let me recommend a few books:  Jo-Ann Rosen’s Unshakeable and David Richo’s classic, How to Be An Adult. The first, by a Buddhist trauma therapist, explores how spiritual practice supports healing. The second, by a Jungian psychotherapist, is short, direct and walks you through some simple, but not easy, exercises, well worth the time.

Finally, when life gets murky, I find that employing some of the same rules I use when I’m traversing a foggy Cape Horn really helps: I keep my eyes on my own side of the road. I go as slow as I need to but never stop. I try to be predictable so I don’t confuse other people and cause an accident. I trust the other driver to stay in her own lane. And last but surely not least, I take all the help I can get!

Like what you read? I would love to have your support!
Canadians can send an e-transfer to descamp@widespot.ca. Everyone else, I take cheques of all nationalities.
Box 452, New Denver, BC, V0G 1S0, Canada