The Labels of My Life

These are the labels of my life that I most strongly identify with:
Only child
Product of divorce
Motherless daughter
Straight

There are many more, but these have really shaped the woman I am today and formed my emotional normal.

As an only child, the expectations are that I must be selfish because I never had to share and that I must “miss” the love of family. How insulting to imply the number of toys I had shaped my emotions as an adult and that I wasn’t loved as much as children in bigger families! I developed a very creative imagination and learned how to entertain myself.  The only thing I “miss” from not having siblings is having someone who understood my pain and who could help make decisions when my mother passed away. Otherwise I don’t miss what I never had and I am extremely giving, not selfish at all. It was not my choice to be an only child, it was all I knew so it was my family normal.

As a product of divorce, I was a statistic in that I had a much higher chance of becoming divorced myself. Never mind I was 13 and a long way from my first marriage. Yes, the statistic did ring true in my case, but what affected me the most from my parents’ divorce was what happened the day my father rejected me. We had what I felt was forced visitation. He would pick me up and take me for ice cream, we would sit in mostly awkward, angry silence, and he would bring me home the second I finished my cone. One day he rather bluntly said, “I was never a teenage girl. I don’t know how to relate to you so goodbye.” Then he drove away and I never spoke to him again, though I certainly tried to through the years. Unfortunately that made me fear someone loving me because maybe one day they too wouldn’t be able to relate to me or I wouldn’t be good enough and they would reject me like he had. And twice more that fear became a reality and the men I loved decided I wasn’t good enough and left me for another woman. It was not my choice to be a product of divorce, but it was suddenly what I knew and became a different relationship normal.

As a motherless daughter, anything that others celebrate is bittersweet for me. People also think it’s been 16 years, I shouldn’t be grieving anymore and don’t understand why I still have random bouts of grief. Believe me, if I could stop grieving I most certainly would! Time doesn’t mend everything, it just makes it easier to cope. I lost the one person who loved me unconditionally. It was not my choice to be a motherless daughter, but very suddenly it was what I knew and became my new coping normal.

As a girl growing up in the 80s, I didn’t know much of what it meant to be straight or not. I just assumed I would like boys since I was a girl. I didn’t know anyone who liked their own gender. I remember hearing about AIDS and people dying but again I didn’t really understand what it all meant. I don’t know when I began to have this understanding, but I was finding myself becoming upset by the ignorant comments around me. Why was it a problem that two men were holding hands? Why are two women having lunch assumed to be a couple and why did it matter? Why is it wrong for a baby boy to play with his older sister’s Barbie dolls or choose a pink golf ball for miniature golf? Why can’t people be “allowed” to  love who they love? It was not my choice to be born straight and like boys, it was what I thought was my gender normal.

All my life other people’s choices or circumstances dictated what my perception of normal was, which was Ok because it was a kind of weird structure that I could understand. But now suddenly, my perception of normal has changed and it is from my own choice and circumstance.

And now I find myself struggling because I have fallen in love with a woman who has a passion for life and makes me feel alive. Struggling because long before I met her I had fallen out of love with a man who made me feel stable but dull. Struggling because the answer to who do I want to be with goes against what I have always known as normal for a female. Struggling because now a label I have always had doesn’t quite fit anymore. Struggling because sometimes things just can’t be clearly labeled.

The best I can do right now for my latest life label is not completely straight. I am not exactly sure what that means, but at least I am finding my new happiness normal.

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