Unchecking the D BoxBeing back in my hometown after years of being away, I’m playing catchup on everyone’s lives, jobs, retirements, children, grandchildren. Stories abound. And for all the many changes, there are some stories that stay the same.

In asking about an old classmate who was divorced years ago, I’m told that she’s “the same,” but that remark comes with a knowing glance.

“Oh,” I say. And I think to myself that she’s still checking the D box. Sure, she’s single, but not in any sort of wonderful or carefree way. Thinking back to my own divorce, I remember a time that, if I had to check a box, a place to identify myself, I’d say I was Divorced. When getting new bank accounts, name changes, etc., you’re required to check a silly box.

For a while, the D word (or any D word) becomes a thing in itself, like a big, fat mark on your head, your own personal scarlet letter, as if you’re Damaged goods. And the thing is, you feel like damaged goods; there’s a lot of healing to be done. And healing happens in one’s own unique time, whether it’s putting a life back together again or coming to grips with your own Disparagement. Some days all you can do is clear a path for change, because the thing of it is to get out of the box and stop looking at the world through D eyes, as if you’re “other,” as if fundamental happiness doesn’t apply to you because you’re Different.

But one day, the paperwork will end, and with it, goes the box requirement. And regardless of what anyone says, you again have a choice among the boxes.

The day you stop identifying yourself with the D’s is the day you climb out of the Derogatory box. And when you stop checking the D box on applications and warranties and instead clearly state your name and what you want, life takes over again, and you realize you can identify yourself any way you like. You hold the pen.

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing.