Painfully Labeled

I follow a group called “People of the Second Change.”  It is a global community of activists, imperfectionists and 2nd chancers committed to unleashing radical grace every day, in every moment, for everyone. The message the past few days has been about labels.  Here is a small piece from today.

Labels are a violation.

 Somewhere, sometime, someone spoke words over you, and their lies and violation cut deep. You believed them, and became painfully labeled and shamed.

 Today, it’s time to identify the label maker, the person who we allowed to label us. We are going to stare down that shame until it dissolves into the nothing it is… no label stands a chance in the light of our worth.

 We are going to put a name to the wound… we can’t truly heal till we know why it’s there in the first place. Who said it? Who put the label there? Was it once? Over and over again? Either way, it was carved into us. We are going to choose to be free from the lie of the toxic label, we are going to choose truth.

 I work  with a great life coach, Kathy Murphy PhD and she helped me see that I have continued to believe the lies about myself.  I needed to find and live my life from the truth.  It is a message I am hearing over and over in my life.

As I child I lived with the labels fat, under-achiever, bad, stupid, scaredy cat, ugly, dummy, and crazy.  Some were labels from other kids while the adults in my life used some of them as well.  I breathed them in and they became my identity.

As a young wife and mother, I heard the labels stupid, just a woman, lazy, dumb, failure, ignorant, frigid, worthless, and more. I added them to the list of who I was.  As I started to change some of the labels changed.  Some of the labels held some truth-drunk, alcoholic, druggie, and others that aren’t appropriate for this blog.    Interestingly enough, even after I got sober and started a new way of life some of those labels followed me.

As I began to find my courage and my voice, I chose new labels for myself.  I became a feminist, courageous, understanding, compassionate, writer, friend, good mother and grandmother, seeker,and wise woman.  Some people question those labels.   I question them myself as much as others do some days. I surround myself with people who will encourage and nurture my truth.    As I grow stronger, the old labels become fragmented and weak.  My truth pushes them aside and takes their place.   The wounds heal, but the scars always remain.

Do you label others before you know their truth?  What labels do you still carry with you?   What has helped you overcome your labels?

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20 responses

  1. Lovely post and so true – boy, we sure do take in the crappy labels, don’t we? So steeped in shame and sadness until they pierce our very core. It’d be nice if we held on only to the good ones, eh? But therein lies the work – letting go of the ones we were given and choosing our own. Well done!

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    1. Thanks so much Lisa.

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  2. Wow. This is really insightful, and so true. I think to a certain extent we all label others before we know their truth, but the important part is if we are willing to drop that label once we get to truly know a person.

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  3. I am so glad to hear you’re gaining confidence and self-worth. =) I sincerely hope one day you can add, “follower of Christ” to that list. From my own experience, I know any avenue I go down to get my worth, whether it is job performance, weight loss, popularity, etc, none of them satisfy that deeper longing and desire in my soul. If we have those desires, is it possible we were made for more than what we’re aiming for? I have found the answer to that a resounding yes. Jesus Christ fills my soul to overflowing with His love, grace, peace, acceptance, promises, gifts, and so much more. I truly hope you find life in Him. Seek and you will find.

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    1. While I appreciate your comments, I wonder why you would assume I am not a follower of Christ? I was just talking to my best friend who is also my pastor when I saw your comment. I asked if I should respond and she thought I should. I am a follower of Christ and part of being a seeker and looking for truth is very much wrapped up in that. Without my faith and hope in God, I would never have survived the labels in my life.

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      1. Because I only read one blog post. =) I’m so glad to hear you love Jesus. I just feel so sad for people who try to search and fix themselves because I know (as you do you) it won’t ever quite do it. Simply looking inside won’t fix you, looking at Christ will. So glad you’re a fellow sister in Christ. =)

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  4. Dear Sweet Cathy, Thanks so much for the shout out in your blog. I am proud to be on this leg of the journey with you. You are so awake now to all the voices in your head, and now choosing the voice of love, Cathy’s Voice. I’m one of your biggest fans.

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    1. Thanks for your support Kathy. I love being part of the group and the amazing, courageous women in that circle.

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  5. Cathy, this really hurt to read…..such hurtful names and scars to carry. Don’t forget this label, my friend……….and I know you know it………much loved daughter of God. I always look forward to reading your stuff.

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    1. Thank you so much!

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  6. I encounter people everyday who “label” others. I just don’t get it…who do they think they are? I limit my time with them (of course these are family members). Hurtful words are always remembered. I’m so glad that you are at a place in your life to share your story so others can understand how one can overcome the hurt and pain. May God continue to bless and keep you on this wonderful journey to encourage others who share the same pain…You are truly a blessing to all!

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    1. Thank you Janice. Hope we see you soon.

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  7. Thank you for a great post. It is a reminder that our words can cause pain. We need to mindful, aware, and attentive to both words and actions. Is this what I mean to say, rather than is this what I meant to say? Take care.

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  8. singlewhitefemaledating | Reply

    Hi Cathy, your words are beautifully written… I am afraid to say that we have ALL probably been both the “victim” and the “perpetrator” when it comes to this behaviour – WORDS are powerful, yet we continue use them without thought or regard and as weapons when angry. We should LISTEN and UNDERSTAND more…
    Apparently; “Speech is silver and silence is GOLDEN” and “Sticks and stones will break your bones, but names will NEVER HURT you!!” 😀

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  9. This post really rings true for me, especially at a time in my life when I’m trying to strip myself down of past labels and build up my true identity. In fact, I just wrote a post about it today! Great minds think alike. 🙂 Check it out if you like: http://wp.me/p2sBfH-4w

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    1. Thanks for sharing that. Loved your post.

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  10. Thank youfor your courage. I can relate to a lot of your struggles. Ridding ourselves of past labels is still a challenge for me, but these days I feel that I am listening more to the truth of my heart and allowing the real me to stand in the world and rejoice in the beauty of my own heart.

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    1. I love the “beauty of your own heart” statement. Thanks for sharing that.

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  11. […] week I wrote a blog called Painfully Labeled.   At the end of the post, I shared some labels I had chosen for my life.  Feminist, courageous, […]

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