More Than A Label

Don’t let your diagnosis make you the victim, she said. I needed to hear this. I didn’t know I needed to hear this.

Maybe this is why I have only just gotten this diagnosis. Maybe this is why I’ve had to fight to get to this place, on my own, without the help of others.  A year ago, a diagnosis of mental health would have caused me to tailspin, I’m certain. Now I could prove to myself that yes, I have a diagnosis but I am more than that diagnosis. I am still me. The medical jargon that is used to describe my condition does not make me who I am, it describes a part of me, and the things I do, and why I do them.

But it’s not me.

It is a tool. Not a label though, I could make it a label. Sometimes I want to make it a label.  I could wear it on my sleeve and use it to make me the victim at every corner, but I won’t. I am rejecting the idea that my adoption experiences, my mental health issues, and the abuse in my past be part of the labels that shine a spotlight on me as a person. Beyond this adoption stuff, I am more than just a girl who was coerced into adoption. So much more than that.

I am more than all of these labels I have stuck to me.  Before, I soaked them in and believed all of the labels that were hurled at me. I won’t do that any longer, because no one can label me, but me. And I am rejecting any labels.  I will rip them off, one by one, and throw them to the wind.  I am better than a stupid label.

I was then, and I am now.

As an abused child, I am learned in the way of labels. Labels were used to bring me down, to manipulate me, to break me. As a mother who relinquished, labels were meant to weave stories that would frighten me, hurt me, and cause me to doubt my own ability. All of these labels, they silenced me, they made their way deep into my heart and soul, and they began to rot. These words convinced me that I was exactly all of these things, and more. I was convinced that if someone had the know-how to label me so harshly, that I must be the one who was blind.

Ah, but I’m not blind. They are.

Even today, as a mother to my two parented children, labels are everywhere. Someone always wants to put us in some sort of category, sub-sectioned with others just like us. We’ve segregated ourselves based on labels, based on things that we do and not things that make us who we really are. We stop learning about others because we’re too busy only listening to those in our own label.

I won’t do that. These labels have yet to help me, and the people who have slapped these labels on me have yet to a positive force in my own life. They are wrong and I spent too many years believing these insults. I’ve lost so much because I figured that they could define me better than I could do myself.

I’m embracing my horrid past, and dealing with it as best as I can so I can move forward and teach myself the real meaning of acceptance and love. I will use my post traumatic stress disorder, my severe anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder as a way to understand how I got here, but these things will not be my defining moment. These will just be a small stitch of who I am.

I am more than a diagnosis. I am more than just a name on a piece of adoption paperwork. I am more than just the mother who bore the child. I am a woman. I have a heart, and a mind. A life and a purpose.

I have a story to tell, one that is full of pain, sorrow, happiness and bittersweet lessons. One that is worth hearing, and sharing.

You can’t define me with labels, or words.  I won’t let you.

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