I always felt I should possess some amazing talent to reconcile my missing rods and cones. Perhaps if I stood out as a musician, athlete, or scholar, I would not stand out for my lack of vision.

My parents took me to voice lessons with a nice, old nun in a dark, scary convent when I was eight. Yet “Go Tell It On The Mountain” practiced 50 times over did not improve my voice. I auditioned for the Young Naperville Singers in hopes of improving, but the director said she had heard kindergartners who could hold notes better than my third grade voice. That ended my hopes of becoming a female Stevie Wonder!  I also tried my luck at cross-country, a fabulous sport where there is no unforeseen ball to smack you in the face.  I was a good runner, but didn’t stand out as the one who won the races, and in my narrow vision of compensation I wanted to be that winner.

I think we’re taught this type of compensation in America. If you’re not right-brained, you better be left-brained: and if you’re not left brained, you sure as heck better be right. If you’re both, you’re blessed. If you’re neither, there’s something terribly wrong. If you’re lacking in looks, you better have a superbly gregarious personality. If you have no personality, you better at least be a genius. And on it goes.

I’ve come to learn that we should pay attention to our strengths, but we shouldn’t rely on them to block out our weaker areas. Our challenges will still be there, and we must deal with them. Our equation of wholeness is oftentimes flawed-a visual impairment is not a -50 and a great voice is not a +50. A visual impairment could be a +10 and a great voice a -25, depending on how they are used to shape and teach us and those around us.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be “normal”.  I’ve wanted to just blend in and not make a spectacle of myself (which is pretty hard to do when you’re running into poles and such.) I’ve literally pictured what my life would look like if I was “normal”, and by normal, I of course mean perfectly-sighted.  I would live out in the country– or maybe I wouldn’t– but I’d at least have the choice to live in the boonies because the “normal me” could drive.  I’d have some job that required a lot of driving– like a pharmaceutical rep– or maybe I wouldn’t– but at least I’d be able to choose a career that involves driving.  I’d play beach volleyball– or maybe I wouldn’t– but at least it’d be an option on a hot, summer day.  You catch my drift;  “normal me” has a lot of options.The funny thing is that most of my “normal me” fantasies don’t envision my life all that different from what it is now– I’d still be married to the same amazing man, have the same sweet children, the same supportive friends, live in a similar house with a similar career path, but I’d be a much “better me”.  I’d look better (because I’d be able to do my makeup better if i could see it more clearly, of course!), act funnier and wittie (because I’d see funny things all around me), be a more-together and fun mom (wouldn’t lose a thing if I could see!), be more outgoing, athletic, involved…… I’d just be me with a little boost.Okay, so “normal me” is beginning to just sound like “perfect me”.  Definitely not saying I would be perfect, but I really can’t help but think I’d be BETTER.  I know that most people have their “thing” that makes them feel abnormal– the family they grew up in (probably half of America for that one), some physical trait that they don’t like about their face or body, some secret about their past, some act that they wish they hadn’t done or hadn’t been done to them…… there are probably very few people who would say they feel “normal”, whatever that word really even means.

But if so many people don’t fit into being “normal”, why do I sometimes feel like I am the only one who sticks out as “not normal”?  And if I really do enjoy most aspects of my life, why do I daydream about changing it?  Let me re-phrase that:  why do WE daydream about changing it?  Based on many of the RP chatrooms I’ve visited, I know that this is something we all struggle with, and I don’t think daydreaming about being perfectly sighted is necessarily unhealthy.  But I do think that we should pay attention to how we view ourselves and the vocabulary that goes along with those views, especially the “n” word.

Posted by Joy and Jenelle

Sometimes we laugh about it, sometimes we cry about it, sometimes we share news and medical articles about it, sometimes we avoid talking about it altogether, but it’s always there.  We’re identical twin sisters who have grown up with RP.  We’re now 33 years-old, both married to amazing guys, and have sweet little daughters.  Although we look a lot alike on the outside and share the same challenges of vision loss, we often have different perspectives on the disease and each deal with it in our own way.  We wanted to create a blog mainly for other people struggling with RP, as we find it helps to feel connected when facing the day-to-day challenges of living with RP.

We also hope that it can give family and friends of people with RP, Ushers, and other similar diseases a glimpse of what it’s like to live with these types of challenges.  And frankly, this is therapeutic for us, so even if no one (besides our mom) reads it, we’re gonna write it anyways!