While writing my most recent novel, I ran across some very troubling information, about labeling, gut wrenching. I don’t really know how I’d feel being called something, labeled, that could put me in prison, cause me to be raped, or lose my life. I’ve never been subjected to anything like that so you can imagine how hard it was for me to read about the impact that labels had on lesbians at the turn of the twentieth century. If I were living back then and involved with a woman intimately, and someone found me out, I not only got labeled lesbian, but insane. The treatment was rape, to help me enjoy s*x with a man.
Just now as I repeat that, I’m squirming in my chair. It hadn’t occurred to me with such depth the power that words have, the energy they cast that change lives. It really gives me cause to be a lot more mindful of not just what I say but how I think. I can now feel words swirling inside my head with a different intensity, the good ones are lighter and make by body feel loose, the negative thoughts tighten me up, as adrenaline and cortisone pulse through my veins.
I know I judge. I’m human. But, now I want to be more responsible with where I go with my opinions because of what they do to my insides, let alone to somebody else’s life. One piece of research set in motion a cascade of seeing hatred from a whole new perspective. Prior to this, for me, hatred was an action, including verbal. Now, I see thoughts as the seeds from which it all grows and I want to cultivate my garden differently.
I grew up with a morbidly obese schizophrenic brother that I never understood until now. His obesity caused him to be bullied, till he had a mental breakdown and left high school for a mental institution, fatty left the building, they all laughed. I was eight years younger than he and never fully understood his torment, until now, and even now I’m not in his skin, still in and out of institutions. I’ll never know if he was driven to insanity from labeling or had a genetic predisposition.
Why this example, when I started out mentioning the impact that the label lesbian had on its victim? Honestly, I see no difference and in seeing this I wonder if any label isn’t some shade of this, a division of what is good and normal and what is different and bad. It’s the group think mentality, living inside one head at a time, agreements made into consensual validations, reality, impacting lives. The big joke, is that I’m the one impacted the most because it shuts me down, closes my heart, I’m zombified.. I’m the perpetrator and the victim, all wrapped in to one judgmental bundle of self-suffocating thoughts, and unless I can see I’m not all that clever, or better than anyone else, I’m doomed. At least that’s how I feel.
My horrifying realization turned golden when I saw what I could do about all this, which reminded me of a sweet story. There’s a little boy battling two fighting wolves inside his head. He goes to his father and asks how to stop the battle, between the good and bad wolf, to which his wise father says you feed the one you want to survive. I can change my thoughts, or at least I can try. I know there are no switches, no truly 100% how to successes for anything, but I can make it a point to do my best, to stay with the positive, starting inside my head, so negative doesn’t escape my mouth. I can certainly try to learn this new way of thinking, talking, and being, in hopes that the lesbians way back when can rest a little easier in their graves, that their labels gave meaning a woman who cared.
What do you have to say about this?
Paulette Mahurin, author of The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, is a Nurse Practitioner, specializing in Women’s Health in Ojai, CA. where she lives with her husband, Terry, and their two rescued-from-a-kill-shelter-dogs, Max & Bella. Profits from her book go to the first and only no-kill animal shelter in Ventura County, CA. Her book can be found on Amazon.
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