by Vanessa Omeasoo
(Wetaskiwin Alberta Canada)

My three children and I

My three children and I

what I am most grateful for is my vision. I was born with a rare eye disease called Stargardts but diagnosed when I was 12. I did not begin to accept it util I was 20. i found it very hard to accept my vision. I fell in and out of self pity trips, blaming others, Mad at God for punishing me. I hated being different. I hated myy life up to that point. I drank, did all kinds of drugs starting at age 12. My family did not understand what I was going through, therefore, they were of no support to me. When I was 20, I entered int o this Life Skills Training Program and it was here that I began to realize that I had potential, that I was smart, That I was of value to a group of people. After the program, I steped out of my comfort zone and became a volunteer for a youth group. Even though I was still very introverted, I knew I wanted to help others.

To begin my healing journey, I began the process of forgiving my dad for abandoning me. My mom for choosing not to raise me all the while being grateful that my grandparents raised me and not a foster home. I quit drinking and stopped doing other mind altering drugs. I enrolled in an upgrading program so I could go to college.
It was really amazing to realize that even though I was visually impaired, I was an honor student in junior and senior high school. With my vision being low, my listening and memory abilities were enhightened. In school I used no visual aides as I wanted to be as normal as possible. In college I flourished top of my class with the support of some visual aides during exams. In and out of the first three

years of my healing joyney, I would fall into my self pity trips, where i would feel sorry for myself and want to quit school, give up and just run away. Didn't know where I wanted to run, I just wanted to go. I didn't like remembering that I was abnormal. I didn't like being different and up against so many brick walls.
Self talk is what would get me out of these spells. With the support f peers, friends and instructors, I am proud to say that I have accepted my visual impairment. I am 28 years old now, I can joke about my vision to others , and others can forget I am visually impaired and I won't be offended anymore.
How does this all relate to Gratitude? I have overcome lots of obstacles despite and inspite of my visual impairment. Because of my visual impairment I am who i am today. I have an interview for a Youth Addictions Counselling position tomorrow. I always tell people who comment on my visual impairment as 'harsh', or "that's so sad", or other comments by replying, "I am very grateful that I do have vision, that I can see, even though it is blurry, I can still see colors and shapes, and can distinguish this from that." I am. I can watch my children play, run this way and that way, and even though I can't see that my son has a dirty face or my daughter has grass in her hair from wrestling around with her brother, I am still very grateful that I can see their movements, that up close I can see their smiles. Furthermore, I am grateful I can hear them laugh, feel their hugs, hold their hands, smell their hair, so very grateful that I can hug them in return, and speak the words, "I love you".

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