I have a lazy eye. Meaning, I have really good eye sight in just one eye. My brain basically turns off the bad eye and the good eye compensates for both. When I was younger my left eye was legally blind at 20/200, but my right eye was 20/20. No one ever suspected a thing because I could see perfectly. I never told or mentioned to anyone that my left eye was really blurry because this was my normal, I thought that’s just how everyone was.
When I was seven years old, my dad noticed I was watching the tv with my head turned to the side. He rarely engaged in my day-to-day life except to correct me when I was doing something that was wrong or he did not like. I was inadvertently trained to perform and please in order to avoid this negative interaction with him, and in effect performed and tried to please everyone around me. When I heard him speak in a concerned tone to my mom about my eye sight, it invoked a feeling in me as if I had done something wrong. He and my mom went back and forth for a while, she did not think there was a problem, but she finally obliged my dad and took me to the pediatrician.
At the doctors office, they gave me the standard eye test, “Stand here. Cover one eye. Read the chart”. The doctor stood behind me as I covered my bad eye and read off all the letters perfectly. I then covered my good eye and could not see anything, not even the giant E at the top! I panicked! Using my seven year old logic, this felt like a test. Maybe some weird spelling test. I knew if I failed or did not excel at a test I would get in trouble. I quickly improvised. I ever so slightly re-adjusted the spoon-like wand covering my good eye, just enough that I could see to read off most of the letters. The doctor behind me never suspected a thing. It felt good to hear his accolades of my great eye sight, “You could be a fighter pilot.” He told me. My dad however was not convinced and kept insisting something was wrong. Eventually, I ended up at the Optometrist office.
There I was looking through the piece of equipment that looks like owl eyes; a phoroptor. I was stuck. I could not go anywhere, I could not cheat my way through the test. The doctor used the machine to block off my good eye and asked me to read the chart. I felt like I was bad or something was wrong with me. I felt like I was not going to be able to pass the test and just knew I was going to be in trouble. I wanted to cry, but knew better than to be emotional in public. I stuffed everything down and put on the perfect person act. I could hardly speak, my voice cracked and came out in almost a whisper, “Ummmmm, I don’t know. It’s all blurry.” Much to my surprise, he did not react. Instead, he started flipping back and forth between different strengths of lenses, asking the whole time “Which one is clearer? This one? Or this one?” For me, this was the worst part of the whole experience. Each time he asked me the question I was so scared that I was giving him the wrong answer. I was just guessing, trying to find what I thought the doctor wanted me to say instead of listening to what my eyes were telling me. I did however end up with a prescription that corrected my eyesight. A pure testament to the skill of the doctor.
This is a glimpse of the pressure I lived under to appear perfect, it only got worse as I grew older. Any problem that I had or mistake I made, I would try to fix on my own or hide. Asking for help was a sign of weakness and was a definite no-no. People will see what a bad person I am. I knew there was a problem, I just did not know what it was. I tried to fix the symptoms of this very deeply rooted issue; which I thought were fear and anxiety. I can not tell you how many prayer lines, Bible study and faith confessions I did in order to help overcome my fear. While all that did help with the fear; my problem was not fear, it was pride. I was so worried about the opinions of other people; what I looked like or sounded like to them, I was paralyzed. All of my decisions in life were based on following the path of least resistance. What would please the most people. This has been one of the hardest things I have had to confront in myself, and honestly, I am still working on it.
How many of us are so terrified of having our weaknesses exposed that we do that same thing? We fight, manipulate, deflect, lie, cheat, put on a facade in order to protect those vulnerable places in our life. Many of us are in denial. We say, “That’s normal” and accept things we really need to change. We ignore the signs and refuse to admit something is not right. If I had never gone to the eye doctor and had my eyes looked at, my good eye would have eventually deteriorated from all the stress of doing the work of two eyes. I thought that there was something wrong with me, that I was bad for having a weakness, but in reality I was just an imperfect human. We are missing out on living fuller more authentic lives, hurting ourselves and/or our relationships with others because we can not be brave and get help for whatever it is.