There's a parable there somewhere; Something about a man who was amazing and terrible at picking apples.
A man would be driving his employers crazy; When he went to pick the apples, he would bring in the finest and perfectly ripe fruit. But when they tried to get him to work as an inspector, so that ALL their apple's would look that good, he would let by apples that, otherwise blemish free, were varying degrees of unripe.
I'm sure the optometrists and wise asses are already jumping down with their hands in the air; Yes, he was color blind, the one where reds and greens are just a blur of not-red and not-green. When he picked, he could feel the ripeness of the apple through his fingers. He honestly couldn't tell you how -- I know I have trouble trying to describe such things. Once this was understood, managers were just happy to keep him employed picking the finest apples, and he lived happily blah blah.
I've often tried to use color-blindness as an analogy to try to explain what's... no, not wrong. Different. What's DIFFERENT about me, and what I mean when I say "severe ADHD".
The thing is, I used it as a placeholder in myself in lieu of actual understanding. Without meaning to, I recently came to comprehend what that meant. Crutch? There you go. I was emotionally color blind, self aware lame, and because it's hard to describe the abscense of something except in terms of interaction reaction; Shocked expressions, disbelief, anger, even violence.
Yes, I speak from long experience.
I've beaten that dead horse in the past; Go back and read it if you will. TL;DR version: I had a serious mental disability that I was completely unaware of until the age of 32 when a series of unfortunate events (basically three people I cared about dying suddenly across a four month span) that the series of elaborate tools I had constructed to come across as a relatively sane, responsible person began to unravel. Badly. Got diagnosed, medicated, counseling... and a long hard trudge, now nearly 22(!!) years later that I even realized just how big a crutch I had turned that comparison into.
That silly parable illustrates how ignorance is NOT bliss. How not knowing what you are (and are not) truly capable of can hurt you, because if you don't understand it, how can you explain it?
But let's stretch it a little further. First, a word from the government:
Inherited color blindness is caused by abnormal photopigments. These color-detecting molecules are located in cone-shaped cells within the retina, called cone cells. In humans, several genes are needed for the body to make photopigments, and defects in these genes can lead to color blindness.
There are three main kinds of color blindness, based on photopigment defects in the three different kinds of cones that respond to blue, green, and red light. Red-green color blindness is the most common, followed by blue-yellow color blindness. A complete absence of color vision —total color blindness – is rare.
It goes on to note that you can also become color blind if that part of the brain is damaged; But note that most of those who are red/green color blind are not picking up those signals in the first place.
Thanks to SCIENCE I can honestly say this; You can now input visual information into a human brain. It's not even NEW anymore. So our poor gentleman in the parable could conceivably sign up for some university test where he could see what the colors green and red WERE.
Think about that. From birth this person had never seen those two colors before. If I held up two apples, and said "this apple is red, this one is green", I might as well be saying "this one is heliotrope, this one is puce" (the ironically chosen original school colors for SUNY Purchase -- color wonks will get the joke immediately) for all the real awareness he would have. "I know this apple is red, and that one green... but that means nothing to me."
Except now it does. He can look at an apple, and KNOW what it's SUPPOSED to look like. The same with green. Damn, they look pretty much the same, but there's a difference there, somehow. People I trust confirm this to be true, and it's no longer an abstract to be referred to in an offhand, cavalier manner.
There are aspects of situational awareness I am completely clueless about. My weird sense of perspective and learning how to ask the right questions helps me to make really good social guesses, but it's EXHAUSTING. But I didn't start to realize what I was missing until, very recently, I was able to make out that shape. You know, the vase you thought was two faces staring at one another?
Can you imagine seeing nothing? Because the vase was already there, you just misinterpreted it. Instead of seeing the two faces, I realize that they're just outlines. I see the shape of the vase, the urn, or whatever, but I can't tell you what it is. It's NOTHING. Not the absence of light, or black, or grey. It's worse than a blind spot, because your brain likes to keep that filled in in ways that you don't even notice (at least until some asshole ghosting you in the lane to the left of you almost runs you off the road when you try to change lanes, flipping you off).
I stripped off the sling and the crutch, and now am acutely aware of that hole that isn't a hole. Of the thing that no amount of will can overcome, at least with current science. I often dream of a day where I could see what it's like for other people, if it's really as common as Subnormality (Thank you, Zig!) describes. Yeah, those conversations have been resonating the last few weeks as it is (so much so I did a full re-read this week), but then this.
Which is the funniest part of this; I just spec over 1000 words (give or take) to describe why I'm completely at odds with myself over a dying cat.
Let me be blunt; I have about 15 years of grieving of various types that I've somehow managed to avoid. Possibly a lot longer, as I never could get my head around how to do it. Sure, you cry, wail, and keen, you eulogize and toast, raise a glass and remember with fondness and longing. Perhaps even acceptance.
But I'm not sure how grieving is supposed to work with me. And to be presented with a simple reality -- A sweet, 13 year old cat that adopted me at first sight two years ago, something I resisted with all the usual futility... yes, I can see THOSE people nodding knowingly now... was diagnosed with early stage kidney failure today.
And that slap to the face tore open that wound, and I suddenly lost all ability to discern anyone's emotional state or expression. So much so, when I asked Roni if the first thing she thought about was yelling at him for accidentally clawing her sweater or legs, and she said "No" in this tiny funny voice, that I believed her.
Of course she had. But for a second I realized what I must of missed, and realized the implications, and of COURSE I would have that epiphany now. I'm about to lose it completely over a cat, and it's not fair, but LIFE isn't fair, and I'm angry, angry at Leslie for bringing him into my life and angry at Roni for loving and caring for Leslie and angry at myself for letting my heart get broken again. And not knowing how to deal with the anger, which was clearly unfair toward anyone I was having it toward...
You think things like "Was it the bacon? Maybe I gave him too many treats. Maybe the cheese? Was I close enough? Did I listen when I should have? Was there something I could have done?"
And you realize that there's this mass of pain that you really don't know how to express, and it's all you can do to get a straight answer from people that your feelings are not crazy, that yeah, this sucks. And yeah, people do feel guilty getting good news even as shitty news exists, and it doesn't make you a bad person for not wanting to hurt, especially if it's mostly because you're afraid of hurting others whose only failing was being there for you. I mean, seriously?
And, and... damn, my writing teacher at SUNY-P would have had my ears burning with the scorching I would get for that lazy writing. Screw it, this is a blog, and part of a permanent record, and if I can't be honest here (even if the writing style is fraught and fractured) then I would be well and truly FUCKED.
He's fine right now... there's not much outward that was wrong. He lost weight, but that was after we cut back on spoiling him with too many treats, so we were actually CONGRATULATING ourselves. Yay, us. Ironically the goal now is to put weight back ON him. I am torn by the idea there could be a date set where Leslie couldn't stand the thought of him in pain (and needlessly, pointlessly I hear the plea in my mind, "would you deny him the right to fight his god?"), because the not knowing is horrible, and the knowing would be so much WORSE, especially now.
I said I didn't want to mourn him now. I want to be happy one day having had such a comfort in my life as a cat that woke me up by "boomping" my nose, and I want to always be happy having known him.
But right now my heart isn't breaking... it's been broken and pieced together with varying types of super glue, gorilla glue, epoxies and filler, with a quick coat of read to make it look all shiny and moist and whole, even though it has that odd quiver as it beats. Like a sitcom used car flying apart less than a mile from the lot, I feel like I've been holding it together by force of will for a very long time. I suspect a lot of the Great Depression of 2011 was a side effect of same. I'm starting to realize how much I don't know... and understanding there is likely a lot I can't comprehend.
But damn it, he's alive now. And somehow (yeah, I did it again) I have to get through this next bit appreciating the light, the time together, the experiences.
He's not dead yet. He's still a happy cat. He still patrols the portals that only cats can see, warns of the dangers that only they can be aware of. He's that old man yelling at the damn kits to get off of his lawn.
Now my task, which I have no choice but to accept, is to somehow not fall into the trap of pre-grieving, and lose some precious moments.
Goddess grant us all the strength and the wisdom to finding the path through that pain for the greatest good.
He yet lives, as do we all.