Eye Finally See Me
By: Vyky Saiz Illustration: Atara
As a society, and especially as women, we tend to tie our entire identity to labels that we are expected to know and follow. Popular labels that have been used to define me are woman, lesbian, hispanic, and teacher. These labels have affected the outcome of my life indirectly and directly in numerous ways, and although those labels are prominent, the one label that I was personally attached to, which is virtually unknown, was “glasses-wearer.”
It may sound silly, but when I tell you that my existence was dependent on them -- I am not lying. Of course, there are the practical reasons such as needing them to see in order to properly function in the day to day. Misplacing, breaking, or forgetting my glasses was the most tragic feeling. I felt extremely vulnerable in those moments when I would have to traverse the world unclearly. But the connection to my glasses was significantly more personal. My self-esteem growing up was nonexistent and my glasses became a plastic shield. I was made fun of as a kid, so my technique for battling the shame was to be glasses’ number one fan. Because I couldn’t look in the mirror clearly without them, my glasses became one with my face -- there was no recognizing myself without them on. I rarely was seen without glasses on, but when I was, I found myself angered by people’s reactions to me. I would get endless compliments on my eyes and I found that I was never able to fully embrace those compliments.
It was as if they were unintentionally putting me down by highlighting a person I simply could not be.
So, two years ago, I walked into the lasik room and in thirty seconds my vision disappeared and reappeared 20/20. I thought I would be thrilled, I thought I was decidedly making a decision that would help improve my self-esteem -- one that would change my life for the better. I was wrong. Instead, I experienced depression. The eye surgery forced me to see that I had no idea who I was. During that time, I found it nearly impossible to look in the mirror, because I was not used to these big eyes looking back at me. It felt like the aspects I did not like about myself were exaggerated and things I did not see before were highlighted. These feelings were also mixed with the realization that I had never truly seen the world or myself. Life was brand new to me. I was brand new to me.
**Lasik truly changed my life and I highly recommend all people with impaired vision to at least consider it. You never know what those glasses of yours are actually hiding. It may be nothing or it may be you.