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Blind Haphephobia: The Paradox That is My Life

I’m not going to lie, I hate writing about myself.  Especially when it comes to blindness.  I’m not ashamed of my condition (contrary to what some bitch at the rehab center had to say when I talked about it there), I’m not proud of it.  It is what it is.  My dislike for writing about it tends to stem more from the belief that in this day and age of the internet, there’s hundreds, maybe even thousands of people who have written about this already, and they’ve probably done a better job of writing about it than I ever could.  Why the fuck would anyone want to read about MY nonsense?  Who the fuck is Thomas J. Black?  What the hell has Thomas J. Black done with his life, aside from write a couple stories that virtually nobody’s read?  But sometimes, you just have to set aside those tendencies, and let it all out.

It’s hard being blind.  I don’t say that as a whiner, or as someone who wants to be the poster child of a minority group.  If anything, I’m just stating a fact that I think any idiot who’s walked around the neighborhood with a blindfold on for more than five seconds can figure out on their own.

The only thing worse than being impaired, in my humble little opinion, is when you have to compound it with other things.  It’s like being black and gay: it’s hard enough to be black (especially with the whole Black Lives Matter thing bringing it to everyone’s attention), and it’s hard enough being gay.  Try being BOTH.

In my case, I’m not only blind, but I’m also a recovering haphephobic.  As an adult, I’ve gotten over a lot of childish fears: spiders, needles, blood, other people’s opinions, etc.  Haphephobia, though, is the one I’m still working on to this very day.

For those wondering out loud, “what the fuck is haphephobia”, allow me to explain.  Haphephobia, in short, is the irrational fear of being touched by other people.  In really extreme cases, simply touching a haphephobe can result in said haphephobe going into a convulsive fit.  In less extreme cases, it’s just really uncomfortable to the point you want to avoid contact with other people.  I can’t guarantee if that one guy from The Following is an accurate case of the more extreme cases.  All I know is how it effects me personally.

In my personal case, I’m more of the less extreme.  I don’t go into fits, but it really makes me uncomfortable when somebody touches me.  I hate it.  I almost feel dirty afterward.  Not quite to the point of needing to wash the area immediately, but enough to wear I feel like I need to wipe it off on my sleeve or my pant leg or something.

Also in my case, it feels WORSE when another guy touches me.  If a girl touches me, I don’t feel as dirty.  I’m still uneasy about it, but over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that if I have to be touched, I’d almost rather be touched by a woman.  Because if a man touches me, not only does it make me feel dirty, but it makes me gay.

I like to think I’m plenty secure about trivial things like which way the arrow points.  I’m straight, no debate, get used to it.  Except I still remember middle school very unfondly.  I can’t remember exactly how anymore.  I think I either misunderstood the meaning of fruit (I wasn’t a very well-informed thirteen-year-old), or I just fell for a really obvious gay joke I should’ve seen coming.  Either way, as a result, I was instantly “the gay kid”.  Every gay joke was suddenly at my expense.  Every gay comment was followed up with “I bet homas would love that”, or something like that.  I distinctly remember the track coach made it a point to tell me point blank he wasn’t going to do anything about it because “that’s just how boys are, and you need to toughen up.”  To give you a little perspective, that guy ALSO listened to a lot of right wing radio, and seemed to treat his job like it was the single biggest pain in the ass of his life.  I know teenage boys can be a handful, but believe me, even back then, I knew the difference between giving someone a hard time, and flat out bullying him.  I won’t deny that for all the shit I got, in hindsight, I probably deserved about twenty-five percent of it at most (never have the scripted Vs fake debate with non-wrestling fans, trust me on this one), and I even kind of laugh about that twenty-five percent now.  Everything else…  Well that was just uncalled for.

One could make the argument that this is what sucked about growing up in the 90s.  The idea of being openly gay was still a bit of a foreign concept, and gay guys were somehow perceived as these perpetual horndogs who wanted to have sex with EVERYTHING.  It’s probably because they’re guys, and straight guys think they can get any WOMAN they want; therefore, gay men think they can get any MAN they want.

Then again, I have a feeling gay kids still get the ever loving shit kicked out of them by school bullies.  Even now, in 2016, where being gay is a lot more commonplace, I’m sure there are kids getting stuffed in lockers and being called fag.  Even when they AREN’T gay, but perceived as gay, they just get singled out by some thug who makes it his life’s mission to make that kid kill themselves.  I hate to say it, but I have a real hard time seeing something like this going away.  All these anti-bullying campaigns that pretty much make up the majority of the 2010s aren’t going to change anything.

I guess the point I was trying to make back there was that all that homophobic bullying aimed at a kid who wasn’t even gay in the first place installed homophobic tendencies into my subconscious.  Ergo, if a man touches you, it’s worse, because now you’re gay.  If a woman touches you, it’s unpleasant, but manageable.

It’s something I’ve struggled with over the years, and while I at least like to THINK I’ve made progress, I’m not out of the woods just yet.  I took me till I was fifteen to see that actually using a cane had its benefits, after all.  Oh trust me, this is a whole other can of worms we might or might not get into some other time.

The whole concept of being a blind haphephobic is actually kind of a paradox.  You don’t want people touching you, but in order to get assistance with some things…  Well, sometimes, they have to touch you.  There is literally nothing in the world I hate more than feeling helpless, and when I have to make peace with the idea someone is going to touch me in order to show me how this works, or that someone’s going to have to hold on to me in order to show me where something is in the block of stores, it’s a gateway into helplessness.  I’m literally having to admit I can’t be just like normal people, which crushes my pride as it is.  Add on the fact that fucking NOBODY gets sided guide correct (even after you show them, like, fifty thousand times), and it only makes things worse.

Haphephobia has led to a lot of difficulties when it comes to relationships.  It, combined with liking nerdy things like anime at one point, is undoubtedly why I can count on one hand how many girlfriends I’ve had in my life.  It’s why I didn’t lose my virginity till I was twenty-five.  It’s one of the reasons I’d almost rather wander around lost for hours than admit to someone I need help.  It’s probably what ultimately led to some of my more hikikomori like tendencies in life.

I’m working on it with every passing day.  I feel like I’ve made progress compared to what I was like ten years ago.  It isn’t a shock to the system when a date decides to hug me goodbye anymore.  Some of the guys at work are getting better about sided guide, and if I had to guess, I think they’re even spreading the word that this is how you do it, because I haven’t had to correct anyone since 2014.  There is tremendous progress being made here.

However, I still find myself dusting myself off if skin-on-skin contact of any kind occurs.  I still find myself trying to go out of my way to avoid bumping into other people if I can.  One of these days, I’ll actually learn how to use my GPS app on my phone (especially now that I have an on-screen keyboard that doesn’t suck), so I won’t have to ask for help getting somewhere that ends up being next fucking door.

There’s work being done, and it’s not easy.  Much like the characters in my book HikikoMorey, the only way to truly fix the problem is one day at a time.  Progress will be made, regress may occur once in a while, but this is not a problem that will go away instantly.  It might even not go away at all.  But for now, I’m trying.

 

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