the labels we wear

I’m not sure if it’s the changing weather (could be) or the odd schedule lately (could also be) but my brain has taken to wandering all over the damn place. I’d be concerned but she’s taken me on some lovely little journeys and I’ve had some truly delightful deviations from my normal meanderings so really, it’s been pretty nice.

One of the things I was thinking about the other day was labels – the ones we get stuck with because someone else applied them and the ones we apply to ourselves. For example, I would apply the labels Wife, Daughter, Critter Mom, Crafter, and Educator to myself with great joy. And while I openly admit to having mental illnesses, I prefer not to attach the label of Mentally Ill to myself. It’s certainly not that I’m ashamed of my illnesses, but I really do try not to define myself by them.

So it was really even more interesting that the same day (yesterday? maybe? time still has little meaning to me) I worked on campus and gave my BFF the lovely K a ride home and they were talking about how they had honored the anniversary of a very significant non-relationship based anniversary and how much life and self-definition and so on changes in the span of just 7 years. Oh yes, so much change. And that, combined with my thoughts about labels, all sort of tied together.

I certainly do not define myself the same today as I did in 2014. At that time I was working on a Graduate Certificate in Technical Communication and trying to get my second husband to take working on a welding certificate at the community college seriously. I was dealing pretty well with my own mental and physical health issues, but he was not. I also had a young step-daughter that “we” had custody of every other weekend. I say “we” because he seldom wanted to be an active participant in her visits. (cool side note – I found out this morning that she’s going to a college in the Pacific Northwest now and looks really happy) At that point in time I was edging closer and closer to the impending divorce which came in July 2015. I certainly was not happy and I didn’t much like myself.

I sometimes joke that in 2015 I lost 250lbs, and in a way that’s entirely true. I lost a husband who was really just dead weight at that time, and I really did feel physically lighter when I divorced him. The way I thought about myself changed, the way I presented myself to world changed because I felt much more emboldened to be my authentic self.

Making my own labels for my own self was amazingly liberating. And I love that Lancelot has only once ever applied a label to me.

Lest you think I’ve stopped knitting, I haven’t! I am working on holiday gift #2 plus I’ve been making scarves and washcloths for a refugee support organization. And I’m teaching K to crochet so that they can make scrunchies, and I figured what the heck, I’ll make some for their collection as well. Fun with yarn, yay!

3 thoughts on “the labels we wear”

  1. I feel the same way about labels–I like the ones that I have chosen for myself, and I don’t see my mental health challenges as defining who I am, even though I am open about them. My teenage daughter has autism, and we have talked about labels a lot. I told her that it is her choice how she wants to define herself, whether she wants to be referred to as “autistic” or not (a lot of autistic people embrace the label by choice). She decided she prefers to say she “has autism,” because she is different from other people with autism, and it really doesn’t define who she is.

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