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.