Why do we label people?
It seems we are always looking for some way to call someone a ‘thing’. Neat little labels, categorizing human beings into little boxes.
And yes, this time, it was about homosexuality and heterosexuality. When did homosexual stop being an adjective and start being a noun?
Used to, it was a homosexual person, but now, people are just a homosexual. One of them describes the person in some way while the other seems to define the person, as though their homosexuality is all there is to them.
I mean, if I drive a truck, does that make me a truck?
No, it doesn’t.
All right, so maybe it’s not the best analogy, but it’s morning and I’m awake when I don’t really want to be, so shut up.
What was I saying?
Oh, yeah, it got me to thinking about how we define folks. If I were to tell you I’m a mother, that would give you only a very small glimpse into who I am. While it is, in my opinion, a very important part of who I am, it’s barely touching the surface.
If I told you I am a wife, or a girlfriend or a love it doesn’t speak of what kind of partner I am. Am I a loving, devoted, happy, in love partner who waits on her spouse hand and foot and caters to his every whim? Or am I a wife who expects her husband to do all the chores while she eats bon bons on the couch watching Oprah?
If I say I’m a counselor, you have no idea what type or how good I am, or whether or not I used counseling as a means to solve my own problems and have done more damage than I’ve helped. Or maybe I’m selfless and give everything to my clients, and keep nothing for my own limited reserves.
I mention a lot of things on my blogs about who I am, what I do, things I like and dislike, who I used to be, who I hope to some day be.
I tell you I am a writer, that it’s not something I do; it IS who I am. Ironically, that’s the only thing people seem to ask me anything about. “What do you write? Ever had a book published? Win any awards?” My favorite is always, “Are you rich?”
(shaking head) I am abundantly rich, but that has nothing to do with money.
Am I the only person who doesn’t want to know what you do for a living, or what kind of car you drive, or how many people you’ve slept with, or how much money you have in the bank…?
I want to know what your passions are. What makes you smile and what makes you laugh. What are your guilty pleasures and why? In the middle of the night, what is it that makes you wake in a start, frightened? Early in the morning, what is it that puts a smile on your face and drags you out of bed for another day?
But we don’t talk about those things, do we?
No, we label things, and classify them, and detach from them.
I think we lose our identities.
So I am not a mother. I am someone who wakes every day and walks past my son’s bedroom and sometimes stops at the door for a
moment to watch him sleeping, while images of him as a baby and a toddler and a young child flash through my mind, and I choke back and tear wondering how that young man could possibly be the same as that tiny 5 pound ducky face baby I remember holding when he wasn’t even a minute old yet.
I am not a lover, wife, girlfriend, significant other, partner. I am someone who, when he looks at me, sometimes has to look away and catch my breath and put my hand to my chest because my heart fluttered a bit quicker than it should have. I am someone who, when he is next to me in bed at night can close my eyes and sigh, knowing that this feels so very right to me. I am someone who, when he laughs and I see the twinkle in his eyes so very blue feels both tremendous gratitude for being part of the reason those eyes are twinkling and regret for not having seen that sparkle so much sooner.
I am a writer… it is who I am, and it is what I do, and it is through my writing that I attempt, however poorly, to share who I am, without the labels, so I can touch who you are, without your labels too.
It’s the little moments of life that define me. It’s not the things I do. It’s not the things I feel. It’s not the things I hide or share. It’s all these things and none of them all at once. What defines me are the other hearts I touch. What defines me are the things that make me laugh, the things that make me cry, and the times I make others laugh or cry, and the reasons why I do.
“I am not who I think I am. I am not who you think I am. I am who I think that you think that I am.” Quote from an old college speech class textbook that’s stayed with me all these years.
If you were to ask me yesterday afternoon who I am, I would have told you that I am the woman who taught her dog how to turn on the water in the bathtub. If you asked me last night who I am, I would have told you that I’m the woman who wished she hadn’t taught her dog how to do that, because I ended up with company in the shower, company of the furry variety. And if you asked me late last night who I am, I would have told you that I’m the woman who really doesn’t like the smell of wet dog.
And if you asked me this morning who I am, I would tell you…
Love and stuff…
That is who I am. I am love… and stuff.