Losing Sight . . . Gaining Insight #4

This is part three (of three) of the story behind what caused me to come to America, after having been blinded and disfigured by robbers who poured acid into my eyes, and over my face and torso.

Into this bleak setting, my mother entered the hospital room with her heart in her mouth. She was horrified as she scanned my face. In my mind’s eye I could see that Mother allowed a look of doubt—of uncertainty that she was looking at her only daughter—to fill her face. Mother wept and sighed because I was blind and severely disfigured. I looked down as if ashamed.

After the initial shock was past, with enough pain in her voice as if she herself had been injured, Mother said weepily, “Blindness has forced you into a life of never-ending helplessness and misery. Where is your anger, Carol? “

I replied, “Mama, I have my anger. And Mama, I will never stand on a street corner with a tin.”

I knew I used to be convincing. Shaking my head mournfully, I hoped my expression of certainty was convincing.

Mother replied, “Nothing seems to keep Carol down for long, nothing seems to defeat her.” Mother sat in the chair at my bedside as I thought of my friends, full of life to live, wives and husbands, mothers and admirers. Mother was pacing up and down the room when she abruptly stopped, and said heatedly, “Looking at my only daughter’s devastation, I’ve thought of a thousand expletives, but I know that none would serve any purpose.”

My parents were devastated, and could not imagine how I could live. Like so many other people living in a third world country, they did not know any person of worth who was blind. The blind people that they knew were beggars, and were teased simply because they were blind.

Like Mother, we are all forced to act on insufficient knowledge; we are forced to commit ourselves financially, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually without being able to foresee the consequences. Perhaps that is why sighted people are especially interested in blind people. Because in his/her uncertainty, they unconsciously recognize a symbol of their own uncertain progress toward the unseen future.

Parents of blind children should give children a sense of themselves. Instead of mourning forever over the cruel hand of fate, or assigning them a demeaning status, a parent needs to recognize that his /her living child is different, but not defeated. The child has special needs, but also needs special skills. They may take more time, but ultimately, they can achieve much of what they want.

It is not pleasant to be blind, but I am determined to be Carol Guscott, who incidentally, is blind.

Losing Sight . . . Gaining Insight #3

Yesterday I began the story of what caused me to come to America, after having been blinded and disfigured by robbers who poured acid into my eyes, and over my face and torso. This is part two of three.

Unconscious for some time, I had a miraculous awakening to life and a sense of my own selfhood, previously lacking. Near death and blinded, I was more alive than I had ever been before.

I struggled to free myself. I made my way blindly to the roadway and next door to my landlord’s carpenter shop. My features unfamiliar, my landlord cried out, “Lord God, they have poured acid on her!” The reality of it was settling in on me.

The landlord rushed for the hose and began to wash the acid off my face. I was feeling and sensing everything with too much intensity. The touch of the water on my skin make me cringe. I kept trying to reach for the hose as to direct the water off my body. “My face burns more! My face is burning more with the touch of the water! Turn it off!“ I kept screaming, swinging my arm. My hatred and contempt for my attackers had been re-kindled. There was fire in my belly, and I aimed to consume them with it.  The landlord ran to the road and flagged down a passing car to ask the driver to take me to the hospital.

Despite the horror of my situation, I felt strangely separated from my life. Severely disfigured and in the dark, I had nothing to do except imagine my approaching death. I decided I better   focus my mind on the things that made me happy during my life. This might be my last chance for memory.

I had listened to a blind man tell of blindness, and thought I understood blindness. I was wrong. I never really understood life as a blind person until I was confronted with the actual horrifying experience. 

It was startling to realize that I could no longer see myself in a mirror. It was equally startling to realize that I wouldn’t be seeing the faces of my family and friends. I thought in silence, “Oh God, I would give anything to see again. It is not pleasant to be blind and disfigured!” My eyes longed to see this beautiful world, and my imprisoned spirit struggled to break its darkness. I would have loved dearly to dress for a walk alone and go through the valley to the outskirts of my village, Mount Vernon, to breathe in the scented pimento, and be free as the breeze that passed over my face.

In the silence of the hospital room my face felt completely unreal. “My face has melted like a candle. I have the face of a different person.” I thought. Depriving someone of her liberty by blinding her, may rob her of her self-respect, but mostly, it deprives her of choice . . . the choice to go where and when she pleases, and the choice to do what she wants when she gets there.

My head was fairly spinning with these developments. A strange, deep fury filled me. I sat up in bed. I began to remind myself to keep sitting up even as my mind separated itself from my ordeal, creating a distracting and confusing vision. My eyes watered with tears that streamed down my face though I wasn’t crying now.

Tomorrow: how does one begin anew to move forward after an attack so savage and life-changing?

Losing Sight . . . Gaining Insight #2

All of us have a backstory – those things which have contributed to who we are and where we are in life. In my last blog posting I mentioned the events which prompted me to come to America. Here is that story, in three parts.

The Jamaican July day was lovely, clear and warm, when two young men entered my workplace. I also sensed the presence of somebody on the office’s outside wall by the glass
window staring down at me sitting at the desk in the office. I looked up from the accounting books I had been using, and found myself staring into red, glowering eyes set in a wild face I had never seen before. His eyes were red as blood. I sensed evil intent. A slowly creeping sensation moved up my spine, and my good spirit evaporated. Above all an unspeakable feeling of doom had gripped my mind. I believed that at any moment something terrible would happen. I was vaguely aware that my lips worked, but no sound came out. At the same time a thousand questions sprang to mind. The distress must have been apparent in my face and voice.

“Oh God!” I screamed in my skull, “This is a godless, immoral man! His mind is active and sick. I must escape the office to escape this evil!” With a smirk he looked away from me. I rose fearfully to my feet and in a couple of swift movements I took two steps towards the front door and grasped the doorknob. There was a scraping and a metallic click as the lock was turned. The door opened but to my surprise, as I was trying to go out the door, two bodies trying to come in through the same door blocked my path, so I could not escape. The man at the window was a small man, agile and cat-like in his movements. A man that had been hiding in the shadows revealed himself, thrusting a knife at my throat. His eyes, bright and lively, appeared amused. I stared nervously at them. They planned this, I thought. The tension was nerve-racking.

Powerless, and unable to do anything except cringe, I rolled my fists in impotent rage. I was forced back into the office. They said, “We want your money! Give us all the money you have, you bitch!”

After I gave them the money I saw the glint in their eyes, fueled by the sight of the dollars they grasped. Appearing more amused than ever, they grinned broadly. The man by the window was a dark shape holding his bag out in front of him as if it was an offering from a dark god. He reached into his backpack while I braced myself for the impact. It came, slamming the breath out of my lungs. The knife man held his knife at my throat. My hands were tied behind my back by the man by the window, and my feet were bound to the recliner. I felt rage sweep over me. “Help! Somebody help me!” But it was just a thought; I was gagged.

Flesh-eating acid was poured all over my face and into my eyes which soon led to my disfigurement and blindness. Suddenly I heard my own screams. Panic, shrieks coming from the office, “Oh Jesus!” They turned away from me, grabbed their bag, and ran outdoors leaving me stretched out on the recliner twisting in agonizing pain. The acid drenched me, I felt as if my face and body had been dipped in flames. I gave an involuntary cry and lay there, gasping for breath. Then, after a final last effort to extricate myself, I lost consciousness.

Tomorrow: how do you come back from a heinous attack, blinding, disfigurement, and attempted murder?

Losing Sight . . . Gaining Insight

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Inside the soul of every hurting person is the desire to improve. Living in Jamaica blind and disfigured, I was living in near obscurity and destitution. When I was around others, they talked and I listened. They seemed to have a sense of destiny to their lives. I saw their fullness in contrast to my emptiness. Their lives seemed clear—uncomplicated, simple and livable. Mine was confusing, complex, difficult and unbearable. The urge to try to better my life would come to me. With all my heart I wished to leave Jamaica for a new life in America.

Hitting the dark trail in America, there was a light that did not fail, even though in America the numerous surgeries to restore my sight and to reconstruct my face had failed [watch for the fuller story to follow!]. Inspired by so many people and things, the vigor and activity of my mind, and the health and strength of my body continued unbroken under the affliction of blindness and disfigurement. I thought, “I am blind, but I am alive. It’s my duty to set myself some tasks which might serve at once to divert my thoughts from being discouraged about my misfortune, and change my mind. I am determined to live creatively with vision loss.”
I have published my first book, and I am looking toward the publication of my second book. I have lately been pursuing education in computer technology at a technical school because it is a necessary thing to be computer literate in today’s world. I am taking prep classes for higher education. My body demands it, and so does my mind. Because of this challenge with blindness, I have grown in ways I never would have imagined. It has changed me as a human being and has deepened me.

Life is full of fighting. One of my struggles was to face the truth of my blindness, and the knowledge that life had to begin again. Blindness isn’t the only trouble in the world, nor
has it been my only trial. To begin again is always possible. The trip to America was necessary and worthwhile. Blindness, ignorance, and poverty all working together couldn’t keep me locked out of life. I have been motivated and driven as far back as I can remember. To feel God’s spirit keeping us in all earth’s devious ways, that is the great solace of human life, and the comfort of such afflictions I have borne for almost 25 years living in America. In seeking the cure for my blindness, I have found that the cure is the will to win, to succeed and to grow.

My Forgiveness Story: The Power Of Reconciliation Stronger Than Revenge

“You will have to identify them.”

 “But I am blind and cannot see to identify them!” I  answered. At night I had recurring dreams where I hunted my attackers endlessly.  Revenge became the focus of my tortured existence.

 Every moment of my terrible life was devoted to an  insatiable hunt for revenge. I found them. I turned tensely to look at them.  They turned around to look at me. Each, in his turn, slowly smiled with an evil  grin on his face, with a knife gripped tightly in his hand. Their weapons were  positioned specifically for my throat and my heart.

 In the shadows they grabbed me, made me lie down, tied me  up and poured more acid into my eyes. As I lay helplessly, I mentally saw them,  their hands pulled back, ready to kill me. Ready to slit my throat, with an evil  wide grin of pleasure upon their faces, I saw myself about to become slaughtered  like a hog in a mud pen, and it was terrifying. They said that they were doing  this just to make sure I was dead this time. The blood trapped in my head by the  suffocating knife pressing against my throat burst into my congested eyeballs  and blinded me. There was no courage, no peace, no holiness, but I understood  the fear of pain and the fear of death. 

Although I tried to forget the terrible fears of my  nightly nightmares, the panic that accompanied my waking up to escape from them,  turned to reality when I perceived that I was a living victim–I have survived  acid attack to my face. I was relieved to be alive after the terrible nightmares  night after night. On one hand I saw myself as a brave and courageous woman, but  on the other hand I saw myself as an angry coward; a fear-ridden woman,  fear-sick woman. They were still alive and free, and in their hands was my  wrecked life. I had no love or gratitude.

 Story Continue on the next  post

When The Task Seemed Impossible

I first heard of “Blog” when my book, ~Face of Hope: The  Carol Guscott Story was being edited at the publisher. Since the book’s release  date two years ago, due to my blindness and poverty I have not been able to  fully utilize social media to promote my book.

My friend Lavern and I had not communicated for a long  time. A few weeks ago, Lavern called me. We were   catching up, when Lavern  excitingly shared that her son, Gary, is an internet marketing specialist! I  suddenly realized the time has come for me to get an expert to help me promote  ~Face of Hope on the internet, in ways I had never able to do since the book’s  release.

Gary contacted me saying, “I looked you up on the  internet. You need to have fresh content on the website; you are to blog. The  goal of all this blogging, Facebook and Instagram is to broaden your connections  to people. We have to create a buzz again about your story.”

I have heard the word, “blog” used many times, but not  fully knowing where or how to proceed writing a blog, the thought of me  blogging, my heart instantly condemned me, and froze me with a paralyzing fear.  Time passed, I gathered strength, and went on the internet to learn about  blog.

I think we all experienced moments when a project, a  problem, or a challenge felt almost impossible; too large and difficult for our  capacity. We may have felt frozen by fear, paralyzed by indecision not knowing  where, or how to proceed. Then we discovered, the only way to proceed, was  simply, to begin, just begin. It has been said that the deed is half done, once  we have made a beginning. So, we do what we can, no matter how small it  seemed.

It certainly required faith, but that’s the way challenge  is that seemed insurmountable, have always been overcome. Remember the Bible  story of the children of Israel? After forty year of wondering in the  wilderness, they faced one final obstacle before entering into the promise land,  the river Jordon was overflowing its banks. The Lord parted the river allowing  the Israelites to cross on dry ground, but only after showing enough faith to  step into the water.

Readers: When we feel overwhelm, when the task ahead  seemed to great, we may just need to start by getting our feet wet Step by step,  little by little, great change will begin to happen. The Lord will begin to  bless our efforts, and magnified our abilities, but we must first  begin.