Episode 47 - Chelsea Munoz

Portrait of Chelsea

Episode Information

[Intro Music]

Narrator:  Welcome to My Heart is Not Blind. Narrative histories about blindness and perception. A traveling exhibition and book published by Trinity University Press, supported by Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, edited and hosted by Michael Nye. Stories are often found, resting along the edges of surprise and revelation. Every person, every place is a map to somewhere else Episode 47, Chelsea Munoz.

Chelsea:  I like to learn more about everything. I used to enjoy going to the butterfly gardens when I was like six and seven years old. They encouraged us to listen to the sounds around us and try to talk about how the air felt and you know, how we felt being around nature as a whole. I remember that they said either the male or the female peacock was really ugly. I questioned it actually. I asked them if they could describe ugly more cuz I didn’t understand what does ugly mean? They couldn’t explain what it meant. I didn’t have much vision as a child at all, like when people would hold something blue up to my face and say, what color is that? I think deep down I knew that I couldn’t tell them accurately what it was, so I just guessed I could never see like somebody’s face or, or figure out who a person was or see details.

A couple of years ago, I woke up one morning and had nothing but light perception. All the shapes were gone. I could no longer see outlines of people. All of that was completely gone. I don’t see anything right now. As a young little girl, I, I always knew I was different, but even as a child, I kept thinking, why does being different have to be a bad thing? My mother and her relatives would tell me more often than not that I was a burden because I couldn’t see, and I also had this additional disability, which is mild cerebral palsy, which actually I had to learn how to walk all over again and they would tell me that those two things combined are the reason I was a burden and always would be, and I would never amount to anything. I think my mother’s overall personality was more authoritarian, so her voice was, um, like it, it would instill fear. My name is Chelsea. I’m 24 years old and I live in an apartment by myself. I’m enjoying the freedom I have and it’s just so awesome. I also have a part-time job as a transcriptionist, which really helps as well, and I’ve never been happier.

I’m independent as far as financially, I don’t even, like, even when I’m having trouble paying bills, I never ask anybody for help. So when I say I’m on my own, I am completely on my own. I don’t have a quote unquote family really to speak of. Two years ago, I was raped. This experience has made me a lot less naive. I didn’t wanna be outta the house and I also had bad nightmares. I would wake up very easily with hearing the slightest sound and I would think that it was my attacker coming to get me. I I just can’t control what other people decide to do. So if I’m faced with a similar situation, I will handle it with probably more grace than I did last time and more of a fighter. I would say metaphorically speaking, yeah, I do see as well as a sighted person, being blind actually helps me be more appreciative in some ways of the world around me. I’m constantly imagining things like the nice cool breeze and of course if it’s windy I can hear it and, and if it’s sunny, I can feel the sun on my face.

I think prejudice in itself is a disability because it takes focus away from everything else, so it’s hard to realize the beauty in blindness, if you will. One time I was walking around the city of Rustin, Louisiana by myself and this lady stops me, . Her introduction was, what do they have you out here? You’re blind. And I explained to her very nicely that I was learning how to get around independently so that I could become more confident and she walked off, stormed off actually, I’ve always enjoyed life and no matter the hand I’m dealt, I always embrace every single thing because I really take pride in finding the joys in things and and growing. So if I can always just live to the best of my ability and and true to myself, that’s my goal.

[Outro Music]

Host:  Whatever I can say about Chelsea is not enough. Chelsea is one of the wise people in this world. For her living well does not mean restoring her eyesight, but living fully, being independent and being present and helpful to others. Chelsea has experienced discrimination again and again. She believes Prejudice itself is a disability because it takes focus away from everything else. You can’t let difficulty or struggle break you. Chelsea said, no matter the situation or circumstances, there is always room for growth. Chelsea transcribed some of the recorded interviews in this project and offered insightful reflections about what she heard her advice and insights made this project better. I’m Michael Nye. This episode 47 is the last episode in Season one, My Heart is Not Blind. I want to thank everyone from around the world for listening. Season two, will begin next week and will focus on the nature of hunger and of understanding. I hope you will join us.