Putting You in My Shoes

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” – Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I was going to write a post, explaining a situation that happened recently, but then I realised my words weren’t enough. I could tell you the events in detail, how I felt and what I think, but that’s just my word. I’ve already been through it with a few people, and so I’m too exhausted to explain exactly what happened – not least because I’m paranoid it’ll upset someone. Instead, I want to show you.

Whilst you’re reading this, I want you to really try and imagine the feelings. Step into the situation for a second, because it’s the only way that both you and I can understand it.

You came into the, what is to you, huge room with friends. They’re gone now. You don’t know where, but all you know is they’re gone, and it takes you a second to register that.

Oh, you don’t panic first of all. They’ve just lost you for a second – they thought you’d follow them, that you’d hear their voices and come over to them because you’re good at that, right? You didn’t, because it’s so loud. It’s so, so loud. They’ll come back – it’s just momentary – and anyway, someone will find you. Won’t they? You’re not here on your own; there are people, there are.

There’s the light from the window, and the break in between two windows. You can see that, and look – there’s the space where the benches aren’t. Are those shapes tables or people? There’s an open space in front of you, in between what must be benches, and to your left are some indistinct shapes. They must be people, but they’re not the right ones, because they’ve been standing there too long and they don’t speak to you but would they speak to you anyway? Maybe they are your friends, or maybe they aren’t, and you can’t ask them because you don’t know who they are.

It’s okay. You can just listen, listen – listen! If you listen hard enough, you can hear your friends. Are those them? You don’t know at all, and you’re disorientated now, because they could be anywhere. You can’t move, because you might bump into someone who doesn’t know you, and you can’t do that. They think you’re weird, and it’s embarrassing because you can’t do this. You need to grow up – you need to!

You’re taking deep breaths now, to try and calm yourself down – but there’s nothing to panic about! It’s fine; you’ll find them. But oh god, you’re going to be standing here until the end of break, and you’re alone too. You’re alone, and no one is here; they can’t see you. Their eyes aren’t pointing in your direction, and you can’t get their attention because you don’t know where they are. You can’t ask someone random to help, because you don’t have a clue who’s there, and you can’t be a burden on anyone. You’re going to be here, standing, until the bell rings and then what? How will you get out? How can you if the room’s so expansive?

You feel like you’re about to be sick, but it feels almost muted. You’re boiling, shaking, breaths getting shallower and shallower. Maybe if you cause a scene, someone will notice? They’ll find you? But no! If that happens, you’ll look pathetic, they’ll feel guilty when it’s not their fault and everybody will think of you as the helpless blind child. You can’t but you’re also finding it difficult to breathe. Are you doing this on purpose?

You’re turning your head now, because your eyes could be caught by one of your friends. You don’t even know why you’re doing it, because you can’t see and you’ll never see, but you can’t think straight either. Where are they? Where are you? You don’t know any more, and the voices around you are swelling; you don’t know what they’re saying. You have to be putting this on because you weren’t panicking earlier. You were fine! You need to be fine, think, think, think think think!

You are terrified. You are so scared, because they could be anywhere; they could even be right next to you but you’re too paralysed with worry to notice if they are. They don’t understand, but it’s not their fault because they can’t. You’re on your own, the only blind one in the school that feels this way. Alone, and it’s all you can think about, and you’re almost crying because there’s no one here and you feel like a child again. You remember primary school, where sometimes you were just there on the bench and no one else was, when your best friend wasn’t there because she was busy.

Someone’s come up to you, asking if you’re okay. Who are they? Their voice isn’t that familiar, but maybe it’s one of the new people, or maybe it’s someone you’ve never spoken to before. They noticed, but no no no, they want to help you find your friends. How can you let them do that? It would be mortifying, presented to them like a package, and you can’t. You say you’re fine, but your heart’s thumping, and you ask to get out out out. They know how to guide you, as you clutch their arm and gasp – are people looking? Do they want to help you? They must feel so awkward! God, you’re so scared, and where are you?

You found a friend, but you wanted to get out. Your vision feels like it’s blurring, and you absolutely can’t catch your breath. You’re out of the room now, crashing into a door – shit, where are you? You walk, and there are people, but they’re not the right people because the “right” people are together and laughing and seeing and not crying, because they can walk into a big room and go across it to anyone they like. You can’t.

A teacher finds you, someone that’s quite high up in the school, and your tears run faster because you don’t want this. You can’t make a scene, because people will say you’re blowing things out of proportion. You’re still afraid, saying you’re okay to him whilst tears splash down your face. When he leaves, you turn to the wall and sob and sob and sob, fingers pushing at the bricks, hunched over like a wounded animal because you’re alone, alone, alone.

When they find you, you tell one of the teachers that knows you the best what happened. All throughout, you can’t speak because you’re crying too hard, humiliated and miserable because you’re doing what you promised you wouldn’t. You’re telling people how you feel, and people that might tell your parents, and people that will think it’s bigger than it is. But you feel isolated and you can’t take it any more, no matter how pathetic it makes you feel.

Even for that, you’re petrified. You don’t want this any more. You avoid people, shaking, tears sliding down your cheeks when you remember just how fucking lonely you feel.

Your eyes hurt now. They’re widened, blinking sometimes more than usual, and it hurts. It shouldn’t be like this, at the age you are. Will it happen again?

You’re scared. You’re so, so scared, but you can’t do anything. It would be a little thing to anyone else, but you feel cold when you think about the icy fear you felt, and the sheer horror of feeling like an object, or like the anxious 11-year-old you once were, when you were shoved into an unfamiliar surrounding with people you’d never ever met before in your life, and just expected – expected to be okay. To be normal.

That’s just a little of what I’ve felt. I’m not trying to make you feel upset: rather, as I would want people to do to me, I’ve tried to let you understand something different: a little of what it’s like for one person who can’t see much, who’s put into a situation where they feel helpless, but where they’re too scared to do anything about it.

From Elm 🙂

46 thoughts on “Putting You in My Shoes

  1. Elm, wow, I was feeling so much as I read through that.Of course, I can never feel like what it is to be you and what you go through but that little snippet is already making me feel so much. I can’t even begin to imagine what It’d be like to be any other person other than me. But this post, it just had me feeling so much panick inside of me. On a side note, you are a really good writer to be able to make a reader FEEL something while reading. Hope your okay xx

    • Thank you so, so much! I’m glad that I did what I achieved that it’s just to make people understand a little bit more of my world, of what I can and can’t do, and it’s very difficult to do because I have to show, not tell. But I’m glad that you liked it, and that you felt emotional whilst reading it! XX

  2. I can’t understand your lack of sight but I understand that panic very well. I wish you all the best and hope that it doesn’t keep happening. We’re always here to talk if you need. ❤️❤️

    • Thank you so so much! And I’m always here for you, two; I need to catch up on all of the blog post that I’ve missed again! I’ll drop you an email sometime XXX

  3. I can’t understand your lack of sight but I understand that panic very well. I wish you all the best and hope that it doesn’t keep happening. We’re always here to talk if you need. ❤️❤️

  4. I’m sorry you had this feeling of isolation. Thank you for sharing it. It helps for others to know they are not alone and may feel the same. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to share. Please know that you have an online community here for you when you need it. ❤️​❤️​❤️​

    • Thank you so so much! It’s one of the things that holds me together – that I know that everyone is here. It wasn’t easy to write, and I experienced the same fear whilst writing that I did when I was in the actual situation itself, but it did help to write it down. Thanks again!

      • I find writing things down helps gets internal emotions out. You did this and helped others relate at the same time. 😀​ I love that you know you have your on-line support. ❤️​ You definitely do.

  5. Hey Elm, I’m not going to pretend that I know what you go through, I don’t. But for what it’s worth, this post made me feel so much. I really hope that you’re okay, and you know that you can always talk to me about things ❤

    • I know 🙂 and very much same to you; I’m just a text away. You’re a lovely person, and you’re always there for people. I’m okay I think I was just extremely tired and drained, and I don’t really trust a lot of things right now XX

  6. Well…that was a lot of emotions. I can’t imagine anything like that how it can feel but I know two people who do. Try to stay clam you probably heard this before. Maybe you can try by stop thinking what others think. I do understand that sometimes I feel like everyone is talking about me. So try not to think about other people and maybe go somewhere alone to calm yourself down and somewhere outside. I hope you are better? ❤️

    • I’ll do my very best – it’s not easy, but your encouragement has helped 🙂 maybe taking time out for myself, like finding somewhere calm, will be good for me XX

    • I’d hoped that they would – it’s just them not knowing that’s the thing. I’m quite scared of telling them, for fear of making them upset, but I’ll have to do it at some point

      • I do, but people have built up this image of me: that I don’t really care about the blindness, that it doesn’t bother me, when it sometimes does. When they see that side of me, it almost feels like they don’t really know me

  7. That was so powerful Elm… I can never feel exactly what it’s like to be you, but that post gave me a pretty good idea. ❤️ If you ever want to talk to any of us on here then just email!

  8. This really made me so upset and Im sorry you have to go through that! I sometimes wonder what life would be like blind, because I love observing, and I realise that it would be awful. Although I can see, I still can’t go up to my friends because im constantly thinking “what if they hate me” “do they even want me here” so don’t worry — I struggle with that as well! I hope you are ok

    • Yeah, I’m alright now, just quite upset still. And I can completely understand that – I have that as well! It is very terrifying, but if you’re born blind, or you’ve been blind for a long time, you just get used to it 🙂 XX

      • I would rather be deaf than blind, I think, because my ears are very sensitive to noise and I get very stressed in noisy situations! Saying that, music is good xD I just think people should stop taking their eyes for granted because if you can see the world, you should take in everything in as much detail as possible! I love just observing haha

      • I agree! I’m the same with listening to peoples conversations – I love it. I don’t know what I’d prefer, as I’ve only had one – blindness of course

      • Is it true that sound is intensified if you’re blind? Like your hearing is stronger? I’ve always had intensified sight and hearing because of my autism. Like, I still wear sunglasses in Winter xD

      • It’s not necessarily true – our senses aren’t any better than anybody else’s, as in the majority of us, but it’s just that we use it more and so we are more used to using it. I didn’t realise your senses were intensified! Do you often get sensory overload?

      • Yeah like too much!! At night, if there is one tiny bit of light or one tiny noise, i can’t sleep! I lean a book against my TV light 😂😂

      • That must be so so awful if you are in a place where it’s loud, I’m not talking about hugely loud but loud enough for it to be unpleasant for you.

      • At night my brother likes to talk to his friends and so I cant sleep! Yeah just going into town is too much for me. Im also very sensitive to touch so if i walk past someone and bump into them, it stays with me for a while!

      • As in a horrible feeling? Or just touch feeling? And because of your lack of sleep, are you tired a lot of the time? I’m sorry for all of the questions – I just don’t know much about it

      • It makes me shiver a bit and i get anxious with too much contact. Yeah im tired a lot of the time! Im also slightly anaemic which does not help with the tiredness xD

      • Seeing this post has made me kinda try and put myself in your shoes a bit like i feel i understand you better now haha

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