Generally speaking, I’m a gentle, polite individual who prides herself on having the ability to get on with most people. I would even go as far as saying I’m a pacifist who always tries to see things from the other person’s point of view. However, it may surprise you to know, I can sometimes be quite volatile. Certain things can make me angry. Very angry. We’re talking raging, Incredible Hulk, red mist kind of angry.
Very few people have witnessed me at boiling point. Obviously my husband and kids have had the pleasure on numerous occasions. I know I’m not the only one to lose my cool at my kids after having to pick their dirty washing up from their bedroom floor for the umpteenth time. And I know there are plenty of wives who, like me, could scream with frustration when my husband forgets to take the rubbish out on collection day.
However, exploding occasionally at family members is considered fairly acceptable and part of normal, every day family life. What seems to be less acceptable is screaming at total strangers.
But I have to admit, I have done that too. On numerous occasions. And I’m pretty sure I will do it again. And again. And again. You get the gist.
You see, there’s nothing that upsets me more than my severely sight impaired husband being mistreated. He doesn’t always notice. But I do. And it truly makes my blood boil.
To be fair, it took my husband a number of years to come to terms with losing his sight. For a long time, he struggled with his daily commute into London, trying to blend in with the other, able-sighted commuters. During his many years of denial and long before his guide dog Gibson came into our lives, I couldn’t really blame strangers for tutting loudly when he walked across their path. But boy, I still did. My reaction was completely dependant on what kind of mood I was in. Sometimes, I would go for a calm, apologetic kind of response, ‘I’m so sorry, my husband is actually partially sighted and didn’t see you’ normally worked well. Sometimes, I just couldn’t be bothered to explain and really who cares? We would never see these people again anyway.
However, occasionally, and for no apparent reason other than it being my ‘time of the month’, I would just lose it. Looking back now, it seems a little unfair screaming ‘He’s blind’ into a strangers face, especially after they had dared to look annoyed after they had just been sent flying by a 6ft tall giant of a man who is pretending he can see perfectly well.
Once his sight started to deteriorate, but before we got Gibson, my husband used a symbol cane (or white stick as its more commonly known). That’s where the fun really started. For those that don’t know, a symbol cane is used as a way of letting other people know that you’re blind or partially sighted and is supposed to be particularly useful in busy or crowded places as other people who see the cane should take a bit more care not to bump into you. But for my husband, it was a bit of a joke. His stick was so tiny most people didn’t actually notice it so it rendered it completely pointless. Turns out size really does matter. Who knew?
But even with this pathetic excuse of a white stick, woe betide anyone who dared to comment, abuse or even look badly at my husband should any collision happen. My (by now standard) ‘he’s blind’ outburst carried a little more weight now my husband actually looked the part.
Of course, we quickly realised the cane wasn’t really ‘cutting the mustard’ and the arrival of Gibson has made things much better. In fact, if anyone doesn’t notice my husband’s disability now, they probably need a guide dog themselves! But saying that, you would be amazed at the amount of people who still don’t fully get what a guide dog is or the amount of people who assume my husband is a guide dog trainer.
Thankfully, nowadays my outbursts are very few and far between but can still happen. I recently shouted at a restaurant manager for abruptly telling us ‘no dogs are allowed’. To be fair, it was the third place we had been turned away from that evening.
I used to worry my husband was embarrassed when I lost my temper at unsuspecting strangers. He once told me that actually, the opposite was true. Even if he didn’t notice the looks and comments, he respected the fact I stood up for what I believed in and more importantly, he loved that I always ‘had his back’.
And I suppose that’s what it boils down to. Love can make a person do crazy things.