I attended a women’s conference a several weekends ago. Not my normal thing. Don’t exactly know why, but I don’t generally like women’s events. And I usually do whatever I have to do to avoid them because they tend to be fake, surface-level pep rallies that make me feel shameful about not being the perfect Christian. Which makes them absolutely not my thing. Since I don’t need more reasons to feel shame. But my aunt. My 80 year old aunt who probably won’t be around all that much longer…well, she invited me.
Yep, guilted into attending.
Thing is, it was awesome. Really. Awesome. Much to my surprise.
The speakers were incredible. They were quality, so real, so genuine. I was amazed. Because they actually touched my heart.
One of them talked about labels. Labels others place on us. And those we place on ourselves.
Got me to thinking. About the labels others have placed on me, but mostly about the labels I have placed on myself.
I’ve placed a lot of labels on myself. And they aren’t very pretty.
The labels I believe apply to me are those that experience has given me. Rightfully given me. Experience with parents. Who abused me. Who never loved me. With my first husband who also never loved me….a man I wasn’t with all that long, but who I deeply loved. Another husband who never loved me. The man/husband I loved with all of my heart. The man I stayed with for 22 years, in spite of the pain and rejection. In spite of his disdain and disgust. These two important and influential men. Plus my parents. They taught me to see and evaluate myself in certain ways. And various “friends” and employers only reinforced the message.
Yes, they all taught me to see and evaluate myself in certain ways. Certain unflattering and negative ways.
Labels that remind me of my place. Labels that remind me I’m only an object meant to be used and discarded. They explain I am someone who must justify my existence by performing at maximum capacity without failing and without flaw. All the time. Every time. They tell me I can, at best, expect to be tolerated. Labels that remind me I have no value. And that I’m never, ever, ever going to be good enough. For anyone. In any way.
I label myself harshly. Because of my personal experience. Because of what I have experienced during my life. Because of the way I have been viewed by the important people in my world.
I have learned the lesson. I have learned it well.
The people who have been the most significant players in my life have let me know I am nothing. They have let me know I don’t and never will matter. I have listened to them. I have assumed the labels they placed on me were accurate and well deserved.
I have labeled myself with the labels they have given me. I have believed them. I believe I was worthless. This is what they have taught me.
The lessons went deep.
In evaluating these labels now, it’s very difficult for me to gain enough perspective to challenge them. They seem so solid. They make me question if I have anything of value within me. I question whether I have even a grain of sand of worth in my soul.
Labels have come to define me. They have become who I am. I have become who they told me I am.
I long to be free. Free from labels. Free to find out who I really am. Who I was supposed to be. Maybe still can be?
I don’t know. I may be doomed. Because of the labels. Because of the message they have placed deep in my heart. It may be too late to escape. They may have created a monster.
Me. The monster they created may be…me. That’s my label.