JAWS is one of my absolute favorite movies. There’s always been something captivating about that overgrown man-eating shark that sucks me in. It’s the sense of foreboding, the iconic music and quite possibly Roy Schrieder – because in 1975 that dude was hot! Every girl wanted a piece of Chief Brody, not just the shark! Once you get past the floating body parts, blood and beach-goers screaming in horror, you become immune to the darkness weaved throughout the film.
When the original JAWS 1975 version begins, Chrissie Watkins, is running her tight little ass across the beach while a drunken teenage boy chases after her. She ditches her clothes and frolics into the water, possibly hoping for a salt water quickie. Chrissie always struck me as a bit of a slut. Sorry, Chrissie.
Unprotected sex is averted when the drunk guy she’s waiting for passes out on the beach. Disappointed Chrissie is left floating alone in the moonlight ocean. And that’s when it happens…
JAWS made us fear the darkness.
Something sneaks up beneath Chrissie’s feet from underneath the water. We don’t see what it is, but it’s pretty evident it has a hold of her and isn’t letting go. Chrissie’s head is sucked into the darkness and then violently reappears. JAWS moviegoers watch in horror and this beautiful girl is swung like a pendulum from one end of the screen to the other, screaming, “Help me! Help me!”
“It hurts! It hurts! Oh, God! Oh, God!”
Chrissie continues to scream in agony before finally grabbing onto a dinghy. She stabilizes herself for a second. You can hear her fear with every breath. Just when you think she’s safe, the monster in the darkness reemerges, pulling her off the dinghy and rag dolling her across the water. She screams one last time for help before her head is sucked beneath the water. Then, it’s silent.
Just like so many other horror movies, films like JAWS make their millions by feeding off people’s fear of the dark. What’s lurking in the closet? Who’s under the bed? What’s that beast beneath the water? From childhood, each of us is conditioned to fear darkness.
When you’re blind, like me, darkness is always present, even in the daylight. It’s part of your life and no matter how hard you try; you can’t escape it.
Lately, I’ve been experiencing a lot of eye orbit pain. The only way I can describe it is like someone is stabbing me with an ice pick right below my eyebrows.
I’ve been to the eye doctor more times than I can count in the past four months. I was diagnosed with blepharitis, an inflammation of the eyelashes. I was told I have a severe case of dry eye and also suffer from seasonal allergies. Labels and medical jargon provide absolutely no relief for my pain. It also doesn’t make it any easier for me to parent two toddlers on a daily basis.
While I try to keep a positive attitude for my family and look daily to God for strength, there are nights, like this one, where I feel completely overwhelmed by it all. The trifecta of motherhood, blindness and work sucks me under the water. I’m anxious. I can’t breathe. I wonder if I should continue to struggle or succumb to the fear, letting the darkness suck me under.
Just like Chrissie, I feel like I am always fighting against the invisible monster. First it was cancer, then the vision loss, and now it’s the chronic pain. There are days when I hate myself for snapping at my children or yelling at my husband. There are times when I hide behind my refrigerator door, just so I can place ice packs on my forehead hoping it will numb the stabbing sensation. I find myself fighting back nausea during phone conferences because the sound of people’s idle chatter only adds to my anxiety.
Blindness is Not Just About Vision Loss.
Being visually impaired is not just about being unable to see. It’s learning to cope with the Pandora’s box of problems that come with vision loss. Blindness is a sadistic, complicated monster who, at times, cannot be tamed. Everyday I make the choice to feed the beast or feed myself.
Truthfully, I don’t want to be anything like Chrissie from JAWS. Well, except maybe for her ass. I would kill to have an ass like that. C’mon who wouldn’t?
I don’t want to let my pain and the vision loss toss me around in the water. I don’t want my disability to pull me under and make me a bitter, joyless person. My husband, kids and my faith serve as my dinghies. But sometimes, I just can’t reach them. I’m left floating alone in the water.
I can’t get my act together. I get sucked under. I commune with the darkness and it is frightening.
I need to be like Captain Brody.
On the days that the pain is more manageable, I am more like Captain Brody. I am a great mom, a good wife and the consummate professional. People are amazed by my “can do” attitude and fighting the darkness is a piece of cake. It’s doable and I live for those pain free days.
If I’m lucky, I get about 10 of these days every month. 10 days out of 30. That’s 120 days out of the year.
Could you live on that? Would you want to?
When the bad days come, they rise from the water fast and furiously. They are strong, terrifying. There is no ominous music, no warning. Eye pain can strike during breakfast or in the middle of bath time. It can commence during a family party or while I’m on the telephone. It lurks within me, waiting patiently behind my eyes, and there isn’t a medication in the world that can stop it.
Chrissie was the shark’s victim. Captain Brody was Amity’s hero. I’m not playing the victim. I want to be the hero in my story. Not for you, the audience, but for me. I need to save myself. I’m the only one who can.
I need to be here for my daughters and husband. I need to fight the pain within the darkness.
JAWS fans will always rally behind Captain Brody as he kills the shark.
I don’t know if I will ever kill this pain. Neither do my doctors. But I promise to keep pushing on and live for the good days, “never losing sight of life, love and laughter.”