“To become attached to a label of wounded, divorced, diseased, mentally ill, or poor, is to be like the rain, that doesn’t know that it is also the cloud. The ice, that forgets it is water. For we are more than the shape we’re currently in. And we, like the wind, like the water, like the sky, will change forms many times, while forever remaining the beautiful light we are.” ~ Sandra Kring
We often encounter situations that make us rethink our self-worth.
These situations may be a place where we did not fit in, a job for which we were not cut out, a circumstance that made us feel unworthy or not up to par.
We were not healthy enough or strong enough, “man” enough or pretty enough to meet the standards of success.
But these were merely labels, words thrown out to categorize us. Some labels can be helpful but many can be hurtful.
The first label I received was when a childhood friend told me we could no longer be friends because my parents were divorcing. Her parents told her that children raised by divorced parents would mess up.
I remember thinking, won’t we all mess up?
As life continued, there were other labels placed on me because of the way I looked or acted. Virgin and prude were labels I lived with for a long time.
I had thought I was a lovely late bloomer.
I married young and took my partner’s last name which happened to be the most common last name in Latin America. Suddenly people looked at me and spoke slowly as if I didn’t understand English.
Through all of these experiences, I kept a great sense of humor but I began to think about labels and how they can be hurtful and defeating. Then I experienced the long lasting effects when my father was ill.
He told me, I tried my best but I messed up.
I divorced. I got sick. I lost my job and ended up with very little money.
I had the above quote by Sandra Kring on hand. I pulled it out and started to read, only changing the words to cater to his life.
You are not divorced. You are not poor. You are not ill. You are like rain moistening the cracked earth. You have quenched many thirsts. You are wind, coming and going, fluid with no beginning and no end. You are not a title or a label, both incapable of capturing your vitality, bravery and beauty.
You are whole. I see your light and I feel your love and it will always live in me.
All his life (like many of us) he carried these labels and thought they defined him as a man.
These labels made him feel defeated.
What man can hold his head high when he’d been told numerous times to check a box, divorced or married.
Check a box regarding your range of income. Explain your employment status and your race and if you are ill.
Many may have seen him as less according to the labels etched on his being, but in my eyes, he was perfectly human.
And so are you.
Author: Ashley Martinez
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: sarabiljana at Flickr