Here’s to Me!

Soon I will be 37.  Let me say, 36 has been a hell of a year.  HELL being the operative word.

I started out the year feeling so bad it can’t get any worse.  It was really rather horrible.  In the space of a year I am glad to say that things have improved mightily, but it’s been a long, hard fought road.

And thus is the story of my life, really, one hard fought road.

I know, it sounds awfully dramatic doesn’t it?  It’s not something I particularly focus on very often.  Not because I am ashamed, but more so that it so very personal.

  • I was born three months premature, weighing just 980 grams (2.1 pounds).
  • I am the youngest of four, raised by a single mother and essentially abandoned by a drunken, homeless father.
  • We were poor.
  • I am physically disabled and visually impaired.
  • I was bullied throughout my school years rather mercilessly.
  • I am a gay.
  • I am aboriginal.
  • I am a woman.
  • I battle anxiety and depression, and have for most of my life.

I don’t say these things to start a battle of the Oppression Olympics. I don’t say them to make a point about how hard my life was.  I say them because, as I approach my 37th birthday, it’s good to know who I am.

But what’s that you say?  “You’re not those things! You’re just April, you’re great!”

Thanks, I think.  I get what you’re trying to say.  Not to pigeon-hole myself into boxes and labels and that I am not “just ______”.  That “______ doesn’t really matter!

That’s very sweet and all, except that these things do matter.  They matter very much to me because they have made me who I am.  They are very strong parts (notice I say parts) of my identity, and to invalidate them – even in a well-intentioned way – is to invalidate me.  All you may see now is the upper-middle class public servant with the nice apartment and tiny dog, but that is not all I am.

I am a fighter.  I have been from literally the moment I was born.  I have layers that you have never seen, and sides that you probably never expected.  Does this sound like a dramatic manifesto? Sure! Why not?  I made it to thirty-freaking-seven.  Go me.

Here’s to at least 37 more.