by Evalena Rose, M.A.

We use labels to define ourselves. Most of us have thrown off many labels of family and culture, yet we take on new ones: poly, mono, slightly poly, mono with threesomes, militantly poly, and another 20 choices. Gendered, bi-gendered, transgendered, gender fluid, ungendered. So many options, and with each comes a recognition of a part of our identity. Yet, having worked so hard to gain our freedom to be who we are, we risk getting trapped in the new label.

That which grants freedom may be the next enslavement. People get attached to their label and think it is them. I’m a healer, a helping person, an independent person, a recovering addict, a single mother, a sometimes dad, and more many identities each day. It’s as if self-concept is a costume we take on for each circumstance and set of people.

Fine, as long as we don’t take it seriously! As long as we don’t confuse people with their labels, or lose our autonomy in our own. I’ve seen so many self-defended lesbians come to enjoy men, and heteros enjoying men and women equally, where before they had to choose and stay in that one choice. When we see our labels on a continuum, and pick one up only long enough for the phase where it serves, then they are useful as mile markers, guide posts.

The trick is to release each one in its time, and let our identity float, be in the flow of evolution until we arrive at another signpost and live that label for a while. Identify, enjoy tribal belongingness, release and move on, be surprised by the next identity, and enjoy its gifts.

From the sweet new identity of finding a beloved, we can go to requiring them to match our label for them, to be what we expect, and to act only how that label acts. Our freedom to love open-heartedly, can degrade into a love that limits, that restricts and suffers. When the focus shifts from what the other needs to be to asking for what you want, energy becomes available to create the most fulfilling now.

In many life passages, I’ve recognized that I don’t know who I am. I find comfort in feeling I don’t need to know, that Goddess knows, and I’ll be informed when it’s time. The state of ambiguity between one way of being and another, with enough surrender, can be a fruitful and productive state when anything is possible There is room for the Universe to work its magic.

The older I get and the more I study and learn, the less I know and, most mercifully, the less I need to know. I loved Don Miguel Ruiz’s teaching at his brief appearance here: ‘You don’t have to believe anything.” You can believe and you can suspend belief in anything, including your own definition of yourself and the world. Ah, freedom, once again!