Label of identity.
As we’re consumed by the perfection of a generation that has formed by social media, we are surrounded by forms of identity. How we portray an identity, how we truly identify ourselves and how we are identified by others perceptions.
How do I cope with a diagnosis for my daughter? Others thought there would be a worry that a diagnosis would make my child be seen as different. Or shall we say ‘identified’ as different.
During this process with Livy, I never even considered this. I never saw my daughter as different with a diagnosis or without. She is simply ‘Livy’. With a proposed diagnosis of a form of albinism. I still wouldn’t allow herself be identified or defined by this.
I myself, do not identify by having a diagnosis of LADD Syndrome, Trigeminal Neuralgia, Hemiplegic Migraine, Optic neuritis or Hearing loss. I do not allow myself to feel any less abled or different to others. Nor do i allow others to define me by my complex illnesses.
It’s fascinating how complex this single word can be. How would you identify yourself? We alter our identity for every job position we apply for, for medical appointments, for friendships and beginnings of relationships, but why? Why do we identify for every context of a situation we face? Within the layers of life experiences, career, hair styles or fashion and makeup choices, qualifications, disabilities, hearing aids, glasses, motherhood who am I?
Who are we?
The reality is, no matter what or how we portray or identify ourselves in a certain way, we are always going to be perceived by a particular identity from others, due to what they’ve been told or have seen, have judged us upon present or from our past.
Before motherhood, others may have associated the most identifying part of me as being ‘deaf’, recently a ‘Mum of three’ then became my identifier, shortly followed by being the ‘one with a deaf daughter’.
When around other families in waiting rooms of hospitals we simply identify a child beyond their disability. By the colour of their hair, whether their twins or older siblings. Not by the fact they’re non verbal and communicate via sign. We don’t identify them by whether they’re a hearing aid or cochlear implant user. Or by the fact they wear or don’t wear glasses.
Outside the medical and deaf field, to the minds of every other person, our identification will be ‘deaf’.
I hope to inspire Livy and other readers to not allow your own or your child’s complex health conditions or rare diagnosis’, become the anchor of your/their identity. Don’t become obsessed by the prospect of various ways others assign your child’s identity.
When all three of my children are together, I do not select their identities as two hearing boys and one deaf daughter. I select the finer things like who was born first or perhaps their likes and dislikes or what activities they enjoy to participate in. But again this is my view of their identity, which means it’s solely dependent on our viewers.
I feel beneath the defining opinions of me, may they be accurate or not, may that be the full in or outlook of how my life and personality presents, I often wonder who am I? What IS my identity? What is the anchor of my identity? Because if at 28 I don’t know who I truly am, how can I merely teach my daughter to never allow her to be defined by her disability, or dictate how she views herself.
If you strip back every layer of labels surrounding our identity, what are we truly left with? The real identity label of our truest form?
As a child facing severe development delay due to disability. I want my daughter to know that, she was born to be fearlessly independent and created with a purpose. I want her to be empowered and wear the cloak of labels outsiders stick upon her with the deepest of pride.
And that’s what I want to try and remind Livy and her brothers continuously. The essence of who they are is deep beneath the layers they are assigned by others.
And as I breathe for a moment taking in the trials, tribulations of this entirely unknown journey I face and the many storms I have seen through which continue to howl around me… I should never doubt myself over people’s labels of me and my abilities. I should never feel overwhelmed by the expectations of myself and what others expect of me. And I should never allow myself to question the strength and resilience to provide and see things through that I truly believe in. Which is ensuring all aspects of my daughter’s life are met to ensure she has an incredibly strong bright future just like her brothers and momentarily I know I am comforted by an achievement and then I’m reminded that this too is my anchor.
My anchor is the essence of my strength, I never knew existed until I became a mum. Until I became poorly with neurological conditions. Until I lost my hearing. Until I overcome a horrid childhood. Until I overcome school bullies. Until I looked back and realised I should identity myself as a striver and Overcomer.
“A person who doesn’t sit back when the going gets tough but battles on. A person who in the face of adversity stands tall; equipped with tenacity and wisdom strives to overcome the obstacles of everyday life. A person for whom obstinacy is a virtue.
A noun to describe this hero?
There’s only one type of person who fits that criteria and that’s a mother.”