I was reading another blog and came across this saying "Labels are for jars and not people." While in an ideal world this should be true in the real world it isn't. We all have labels. Back in college I came up with this idea that each of my labels was a single facet of a lovely diamond. We travel from group to group and present the appropriately labeled facet to its members: daughter, sister, worker, student, activist, gardener, skater. This is how we make connections with the members. It is a short hand for us to understand each other. We share our shared experiences. Then once in a while a true friend comes along and we get to share a few extra facets with them: painter, writer, cat lover. No one EVER gets to see all of our facets. Sometimes it is because we don't show them and other times the viewer literally can't see what is presented before them. That is when we say "that person just doesn't get me".
I have been through label changes, both additions and losses. I graduated from college, married and had a child. Each event drastically changed the labels on my facets. I lost some such as 'moving alone through the world' and 'living in a single sex dorm' and gained others such as 'wife of a wonderful husband' and 'mother of a weird smart kid'.
This illness though has suddenly stripped ALL of my labels off. I have never had an experience like this before. I can't work. I can't take care of the house or others. Often I can't even think straight. I am left wondering how I am going to fill up my days? How can I intellectually challenge myself when I can't even read? How can I be a wife or mother when I can't cook or play taximom? Will I have any friends left if I keep canceling on them because I don't feel well?
The interesting thing is that now that the labels are all gone I can be very selective about which ones get stuck back on. Do I want to return to my old job or train for a new one? Do I want to be a different wife, mother, sister, daughter? Naked, I am left with nothing but questions and a bottomless pile of labels to sort through. I am hoping that I come up with a better selection than before.