I’ve been having trouble with my contact lenses for the last couple of months. So much so that I’ve taken to wearing my glasses to work a few times a week, which is extremely unusual. A while back I called my eye doctor for an appointment and today was the big day. And with it came a most fascinating experience.
Although I really like my eye doctor, I’ve always been nervous about eye exams. When he shines a bright light into the back of my eye and tells me not to blink, or when he puts a blue light right up to the surface of my eye, I start to feel kind of panicky. I have a hard time breathing and get a bit claustrophobic. The worst is when he uses a little paddle to flip my eyelid over and examine the inside – that makes me just about crawl out of my skin.
In the past, I’ve white-knuckled it through the appointment, repeating in my head some form of, “It’s okay, you’re not going to die.”
Except today was different. As he began shining the ultra bright light into my eye, I had that panicky feeling for just a moment until I thought – wait a minute! This is what I asked for!
This isn’t an appointment that I’m suffering through so that I can get my contact lens prescription updated. I requested this appointment for the express purpose of making my life a bit easier and more pleasant.
With that realization – I’m here because I asked to be, in order to get something that I want – all of the panic disappeared. I was able to breathe normally. I didn’t feel like lasers were shooting through my head.
I had to remind myself several times – especially when he put that little blue light up to the surface of my eye. But even then, a quick reminder, “It’s okay, this is what I asked for,” calmed my nerves right down.
I have to admit that as much as I believe in the power of our thoughts to create our experience, this one came as a complete shock to me. I didn’t expect my eye appointment experience to ever change.
It also reminds me of something that happened on Facebook the other day. I shared an image that a friend had put up (I don’t know who created it, so I apologize for not giving proper attribution):
A friend who I deeply respect left a comment saying that this is too glib because there are many people who struggle in unhappy marriages for the sake of their children and that “life is harder” than just walking away.
I’ve been thinking for the last day about how to respond. I recognize and honor the hurt behind this comment, but I haven’t come up with a good way to explain how and why I see it differently. My experience today gives me a clue.
It’s about perspective. Whether or not a couple is making a good choice by staying in an unhappy marriage is not mine to judge (who’s to say what a “good choice” is anyway?) If that hypothetical couple chooses to stay, the most important thing for them to recognize is that they’ve made a CHOICE. That choice is to honor the children’s needs. They are not victims of an unhappy marriage, they are participants in the raising of healthy, whole children.
Until today, I’ve always felt like I was a victim of the unpleasant parts of an eye exam. Today I realized that I’ve CHOSEN this experience in order to get something I want – healthy, happy eyes. The long-term desired outcome was WAY more important than the temporary discomfort. When I focused on the desired outcome, the discomfort faded.
Likewise, in the hypothetical unhappy marriage, perhaps what’s being walked away from isn’t the marriage, but rather the view of oneself as a victim of circumstance. In the moments when the unhappy marriage comes to the forefront, focusing on the desired outcome – healthy, happy children – may help in navigating the rough spots.
And I’ll freely admit that, never having been married, I am speaking in a conceptual way, not with “boots on the ground” experience. But it got me thinking, and I’m grateful for that.