Pull Off The Label

We are not cans of vegetables in a store that require a label to be stacked in the same area. We are people, so why do we need so many labels? There are so many labels that seem to define people that I’m starting to think that it’s made up. I’m black, female, gay, and married, but none of those define me just like those words or similar words don’t define you. One of the reasons you label vegetables is so that when you open them, you know what’s inside. Labeling people tells you nothing about the person inside. Labeling is very broad way of saying “This is me”, but why do you need to say that? It would be so nice if we could pull off the labels and people were just that, a person with a name for identification, and that’s it. “I am Anita” – that’s my identification, and that has nothing to do with who I am inside. We have got too hung up on these labels without knowing the person who is assigned a label. When you meet someone, you should look at the person, not if he is gay, straight, transgender, or anything else, just the person. We have a superficial world that looks too much at looks before seeing the person inside the body. It doesn’t matter if you are beautiful or ugly as hell if what’s inside should count more than what you look like and what label should be attached to your person. Why is it so important that you give yourself a label or a label is given to you? Does that label tell the person about you? I hope not because this world is worse off than I thought if all we are is a bunch of people trying to fit in a label like string beans in a can. When I was a kid, I saw these two people walking down the street. They were gay, I assumed. I wondered why people can’t just love who they wanted, as they were not hurting anyone. I learned as I got older that labels are used as a way to hurt people, and labels are used to define people as a certain sexual being. Again, why do you need a label to describe your sexuality? If you’re transgender, great but I rather know the person inside that transgender body. I don’t care if you’re transgender because that’s not what drew you to me. It’s that person inside that body that I want to get to know and love. I’m just saying I would rather just know your name. This doesn’t just apply to gay people but straight people as well. I don’t care if you’re straight, I just want to know your name and get to know that person inside. We are all different inside, and that is what makes us special. If you were to put all the Anita’s in the world together, we would still be different because of the person inside: there is no need to label that Anita as straight or that Anita as gay, what is the point? I really hope one day that people will stop with the labeling because it’s a false way to define someone.  It would be so much better if we pulled off the labels and just looked at the person. Maybe that would make the world a better place. It might help with all this divisiveness that is going on. It might help people to truly understand the next person without making assumptions. It could put love in the world and get rid of some of the hatred we have for certain groups of labeled people. Please take the time to pull the label off and look at the person inside before you judge. The next time someone says I’m pansexual, ask them who are they really inside without the label.

Bullying Straight Up No Chaser


Think back to when you were a child, I bet there is a fair amount of people who were bullied. We seem to forget that bullying is nothing new. Bullying is about power, it’s about making the bully feel good as much as it’s about making the bullied child feel hopeless and worthless. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that in this age of technology bullying has so much power that it could make a child commit suicide. The computer is not the problem, the problem is that people hide behind a screen and feel entitled and empowered by this sort of protection to say whatever they will – their words are the real issue. I’m one of those who don’t believe it’s guns that kill people, rather it’s the person behind the gun that’s the problem. Growing up, when you were bullied you told your parents, you had a fight or you just hid behind the other children to stay out of sight. Now though, virtual words typed on a keyboard have so much strength that they make a child feel there is nothing else they can do but tie something around their neck and hang from the highest point they can get to. Have we birthed children that have no backbone? Have we neglected our duties as parents so much that we can’t see the signs? Are we not able to hear our children calling us for help? I believe that technology takes away the ability for children to learn how to socialize. These days, when you look at kids, even when they are in a group, their eyes are constantly on their phones so they don’t really socialize anymore. This new generation of kids take it as the norm to be isolated rather than to socialize and make friends with their peers.  

There must be signs that parents don’t see when their child gets to the point where they feel hopeless and alone in their fight. I imagine the signs are there but they are hidden behind a façade of happiness. Maybe they try to be happy. If they are introverted within their family circle, they all of a sudden become extroverted outside of it. A child who doesn’t talk much becomes loquacious, whereas a talker becomes suddenly quiet. There are always signs, but we are missing them because we are so wrapped up in our own lives. No-one can accept the fact that an adult has contributed to the death of their child. Nevertheless, it’s time us parents take some responsibility for sticking a phone or a tablet into our children’s hands as soon as they can hold them. It seems like phones and tablets have become the new pacifier, one that takes away some of the parental duties that kids need the most and which should come in the form of interaction. Interaction is very, very important for a child’s growth as it gives them the confidence to deal with all types of situations. Interaction is a confidence booster that the new generations lack more and more and this lack means that parents see their children but they do not really know them. The distance between parents and children is wide and when parents realize what is going on with their children it is too late. The children have buried themselves into so much grief that pulling them back out would require a miracle. Miracles do happen, but how often? Not too often.

I truly believe it’s our duty as parents to ensure that in the future technology loses some of the power it has gained so far. We must teach our children exactly what the power of words is. Children must be told of experiences that parents have had, so they know their folks can relate. Parents must find the time to interact with their children on a regularly basis and tell them they understand their challenges and are open to discussing them together. Is that going to be easy? No, it won’t be a simple task, but you have to keep trying. Children have to know their parents won’t be judgmental, but understanding, so they can try to find a solution together. It’s easy to take away their computers or monitor the time they spend online, but that doesn’t mean they will get enough attention from you. Where is the interaction? Parents, you must be ready to bare your soul to your child and keep trying over and over again. A child needs to feel all the attention they feel they aren’t getting from you. A example of what I’m talking about is when your child comes home from school and you ask “How was school?”. You don’t just settle for “Okay”, that is not good enough because what does that tell you? Nothing at all. It will take time and you will get frustrated, but you have to keep trying, without pushing too hard. Don’t give up. I just don’t want to read about another child taking their life over some words they found on a computer screen. Remember that bullying can only go as far as your child lets it and it’s really up to you to equip them with the tools to fight back.

Fibromyalgia Sucks

I am 62 years old and have had fibromyalgia for the last 20 years. Fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disease. When I was first diagnosed, I was told it wasn’t lupus and no other information except to see a rheumatologist. That was the beginning of a life I didn’t want. Then it was test after test and so many different medicines that it made my head spin. One day, about 15 years ago, I was out walking on my lunch break in New York and as I was walking, both of my feet started hurting. I mean, they hurt like I was walking on glass. I struggled to get back to my job. I went to see the rheumatologist and my pain was given a name: fibromyalgia. I was somewhat relieved because now maybe I could get a medicine that would help me. I was wrong. I now know that I was having a flareup, which made diagnosing it much easier. It was tired of being a medical experiment. The years went on. Sometimes I could take the 90 minute ride to work, but there were plenty of times that I couldn’t motivate myself to get out of bed. It was a daily struggle. I got married and there were many times we would have to cancel plans because I just couldn’t go. I stopped making plans. It was better to be spontaneous. Fibromyalgia doesn’t just affect you; it takes a toll on each person that is close to you. My spouse is understanding, but I still feel bad because she didn’t sign up for this, being in the house most of the time. It got to the point that I just didn’t have the energy to go commute any longer, so I retired. She retired two years later and we moved to Florida. I thought Florida would be better because the temperature stays constantly hot. I would have a flareup every time the seasons changed in New York, so Florida seemed like a good idea. Wrong move. I forgot about the humidity, so I’m still in the house most of the time. I can’t take the heat. She tells me it’s okay, but I feel even worse now because we are both retired and we can’t do the traveling we wanted to do when we retired. There is no cure for this disease, so the most I can hope for is what I have right now. I take things one day at a time. When I feel good, we get out and just enjoy being out. It’s wonderful.

Fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disease that causes widespread muscle pain and tenderness. There are other symptoms that are also associated with it such as fatigue, low energy, trouble sleeping, headaches, and tingling in your hands and feet. Fibromyalgia usually affects both sides of your body, such as both of your arms or feet. This is one of the ways I know it’s not lupus, which I was diagnosed with later. 

Treatment for fibromyalgia once it is diagnosed is hit and miss. There are drugs for the pain, such as hydrocodone. There is medical marijuana, which I now use. The doctors here in Florida try to wean you off of pain medicine, with the marijuana taking the place of dosages of the pain medicine. My problem with medical marijuana is sometimes the marijuana is good and sometimes it seems like I’m just throwing money away. Tai Chi is supposed to help because of the gentle movement on the body. I tried yoga once and was in bed for two weeks from all of the poses that I put my body in. I have tried going to the gym many times and each time I end up in bed with a bad flareup. A flareup is when the disease gets ahold of my body and beats it up. I still try to exercise though, but very slowly and I time myself so I can gradually work myself up to at least 30 minutes of cardio. I prefer exercising at home so I can shower and lay down right after without driving anyplace. The plus about exercising at home is that I don’t have to get dressed, so I can look any way I want.

Relationships are hard. I know how I feel when I can’t do something. It’s very frustrating. But for my spouse I feel worse. We haven’t been to any support groups, but now I feel we should. We both need support to understand the feelings we have when a flareup occurs, which as I’ve gotten older, is more frequent. It’s important that you and your partner sit down and talk about everything about this disease. It takes a lot of understanding and patience. Thankfully, she has shown both. It might not always be this way, but for now, I’m just happy that she loves me and takes up the slack when I can’t do my part. I sometimes get mad and lash out at her for no reason whatsoever except I mad at this disease and she’s here. She’s learned to just let me be and I calm down after a while.

You know how your body feels and never let a doctor tell you it’s nothing. Fibromyalgia is hard to diagnose, and after seeing doctor after doctor, you might start to think that what you are feeling is not real. I went through that in the beginning, with doctor after doctor and trying this medicine and that medicine. I started to wonder if I was losing my mind. There is a doctor out there that can help you. You can only do what you can do. Don’t push yourself because that only makes things worse. Be good to yourself.