There seems to be perceived comfort in being able to slap a label or diagnosis on who we are and what were are capable of doing. As humans we tend to value the things that we can understand and define in order to fit them into the picture that we uphold of the world.
When my abuse was first uncovered, the label that I was now associated with seemed like a sentence and not a relief. I wanted to rid myself of that association as quickly as possible and followed my parents’ suggestion to keep it quiet as to not let it become a predictor of my future.
As I grew into a teenager and young adult, I had to realize that time does not heal all wounds and that despite my best efforts, I was not able to simply make all aftereffects of the abuse go away. But I had no words for describing my struggles to the people around me. Because the only lens we generally use to view the world, is our own, it can become quite complicated to understand somebody else’s struggles, when they are so removed from anything we have ever experienced ourselves.
But because the majority of us seek the acceptance and understanding of other people to validate ourselves, we desperately try to find a way to make ourselves and our struggles heard. How else can we ever feel validated for who we are?
In this process, many of us reach for any label we can find that – although often not perfect – has a definition attached to it that makes what we feel just a little bit more understandable to others. After all, if it has been studied by physicians and psychologists, there is more validity behind it than there is behind our own words. Unfortunately, as relieved as a person might initially feel about having been diagnosed with some form of “disorder”, so often they now also have to live with the stigmas that their surroundings have attached to that disorder.
For a while, I was convinced that the explanation for my behaviors was mostly found in the description of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). What is interesting to me is how I seemed to always find a diagnosis and then dissect it, only to find out that I wasn’t fitting all the criteria to be the “poster child” for that disorder. And every time I felt that I didn’t fit the description, I felt that this meant that there wasn’t a “cure” for me to become “normal” and fit into society.
And then I started getting mad. I started wondering, who makes the rules about what histories are allowed and not allowed in our society? There are millions of kids and adults out there, who have suffered from abuse. We have billions of different reasons for feeling and acting the way we do.
It is not our responsibility to go on a wild goose chase to find somebody or something that will explain, who we are, so that others can look up a definition and a way of how we should be treated.
What if we instead open up our minds and allow the fact into our world that many of us walk on this planet with a history that sometimes has beaten us down and making us questions ourselves? What if instead of needing an explanation of why this could have happened, we allow space for providing the safe place, love and caring that this person was missing in their past? What if we stopped pretending that the majority of people on this planet had a loving and caring childhood that set them up for success as an adult? What if instead we treated every human being with the utmost respect and assumed that no matter what past they have experienced, they will always need our love and attention for who they are showing up as in this very moment in time? What if we gave them that love?
And what if we also would be willing to support the person, even if we are not the ones that can provide them the love that would make them bloom? Can we still encourage each other to live according to what is right for each one of us at that moment in time? Can we support each other in gaining the skills needed to be the best version of ourselves, even if the other person’s version looks nothing like our own would?
What we really need is not a diagnosis, a label or more drugs. What we really need is a society that is willing to face the unspeakable. A society that is willing to see that each one of us is surrounded by people each day, who struggle from past or current experiences that they do not feel they have the means of sharing publicly or the capability of pushing out of their way in this very moment. What we need is people, who do not judge everyone they encounter, but who send out love and compassion even in the moments, when we simply can’t understand where the other person is coming from.