Acknowledging and labeling our identity is a hot topic today.
Somehow we need to know what sex or absence of sex we are, who we have or don’t have sex with, what mental state we are in or what physical ability we have or don’t have, what religion we are or what color our skin is, to identify who we are.
It has become our responsibility to know how others identify themselves before greeting them so as not to offend them by using the wrong terminology.
We all carry many labels, which ones identify who we are?
When I was born in 1962, I came with 10 fingers, 10 toes and one penis so they said I was a boy.
They gave me a name, they called me Blair.
My first day and already I had two labels.
I was born in Canada, so I’m Canadian.
My dad’s father is originally from Scotland. Now, a Scot too.
My mother’s dad is from Italy, so let’s add Italian.
Her mother is of canadian aboriginal heritage. Add Metis in the mix.
My parents divorced, Broken Home.
To young to understand grownup problems and not knowing how to deal with them, I left home, Run Away.
Both parents remarried, Son and Step Son.
I have four brothers, two are steps, Brother and Step Brother.
I lost a parent to suicide, Suicide Loss Survivor.
Growing up, I managed to get into some trouble at times, back then I was a Punk.
In my early teens I had a severe acne problem, I was Pickle Face and I was told I was Gay because I had acne.
I hurt my friend Mark, felt bad about that, his mom said I was Dangerous.
I liked to fight to win, before I figured out I didn’t like to hurt anyone, Scrapper.
I enjoyed alcohol a lot, alcoholic maybe, Addictive Personality most likely.
Clean for over thirty years, I LIKE that label.
Smoked a pack and half a day, now Non Smoker.
I have a knee that is failing, Physically Disabled.
I have nerve damage to my left hand, both legs and right side of my face, we call this Peripheral Neuropathy, fancy label.
I was electrocuted and injured my brain, in the emergency I was told I was Lucky.
The brain injury is called Traumatic Brain Injury, big label.
With the brain injury I also have vision loss, Vision Impairment.
I deal with depression, Mental Illness.
I have had girlfriends and have been married to a woman for 31 years with no desires towards anything else, makes me Heterosexual I guess.
We adopted our first child so I’m an Adoptive Parent.
We attended a support group for couples having trouble conceiving children. We were greeted as Fertility Challenged.
We gave birth to a daughter after twelve years. Sixteen years later there have been no more children for us so I guess we are Fertility Challenged again.
I have two children and a wife, so I’m a Father and Husband.
I have one child with autism, parent of Dependent With Disability.
I have one nerotypical child, makes me a Parent of two. Labels for our kids too.
I have always been over weight, makes me Fat.
When I finished growing I reached six foot one and half, I’m Big Guy.
Now I’m an Adult and a Man.
I’m only one person with a lot of labels.
Do we really need to know who we have sex with, or what body parts we have or don’t have before we greet each other, so we don’t offend with the wrong greeting?
Should we wear tags stating how we wish to be greeted so that it doesn’t make us feel uncomfortable using the wrong term?
Even this Big Guy doesn’t have enough room on his fat chest for all his labels.
The labels that are given to us can hurt and can change who we really are. The labels that we give ourselves can hurt more. Maybe the only labels that count are the ones that identify the person we are, manipulator, bully, abuser, happy, caring, helpful, loving, a survivor. All I need to know is, Who You Are and all you need to know is, You Matter.
They called me Blair.