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What’s In a Name?

July 31, 2013

My earliest conscious memories regarding my name was of never being allowed to go by a nickname…even to the extent that I was threatened to be in trouble if my mother ever heard someone call me anything other than my full first name. Others did not understand this, nor did I. But it was my reality and the reason for it was more serious than I knew.

I remember coming home in the first grade from school and one of the neighbor girls was teasing me by calling me a shorter name. She wouldn’t stop even when I asked her to. I remember being worried (read that as “scared”) that my mother would hear her. My only consolation was that this girl lived a couple of houses or so before mine and ours was up in the back…behind the main house. Thankfully, my mother did not hear.

As an adult, when I asked my mother about that strict rule, she said something along the lines of wanting to hear my name because she had worked so hard on picking out a nice one. She chose that name and wanted me to be called that name…period. She came across as if she had not been that strict in laying down the rules, but I remember. There is a lot this partial amnesic does not remember, but I remember that. It was programmed into me to NEVER use a nickname. It was not until many years later that I began to understand the truth behind that demand.

I remember struggling as an adult…married with children even…to try to be me. It is like I woke up one day and realized that I did not really know who I was. I did not know what I liked or didn’t like. It was a perm gone awry that turned me onto that. I looked totally different. I got teased a bit for the drastic change, but that is when I looked at myself in the mirror and realized that I really did not know whether I liked it or not. It wasn’t what I wanted. It was drastically different. But did I actually not like it?

I tried to look at the woman in the mirror as if she was NOT me. Would I like that hair style on THAT woman? I decided I did, but I felt a bit of disconnect between that woman and me. That woman was not what those around me expected to see, which got me thinking. I decided that I wanted to become the woman God created me to be rather than the woman I was pressed into being. All my life I was always being what everyone else wanted, but what did “I” want? What did “I” like? And even more importantly, what did God create me to be? So, I set out on a journey of exploration. I wanted to find out who “I” really was/am. And what a journey it was!

Right there in the very beginning I was hit with a strong realization. I use the word “strong” because it was something that I knew for sure, although I could not have explained why or how I knew it. I just knew very strongly that I would never be able to be the me God created me to be if I went by my birth name. So, I decided I wanted to be called a nickname, which was really just a shortened version of my first name…half of it to be exact.

I knew my parents would not like it, so I started with my husband and those closest to me. I remember that some questioned what I was doing. New hair style, which I openly admitted was not my intention, but reassured them (especially since the hairdresser was a friend) that I did like it. New name. What was up? I just kept to myself what my realizations were and what my goal was.

Once I saw that those around me were willing to really try to remember to call me by my nickname, I asked my parents to do the same. Naturally, they did not like it. Thankfully, I did not see my parents nearly as often as I saw my husband and everyone else. And then I noticed it.

I had started to change internally, even if not all that much externally. I started to feel more freedom to gingerly explore, and my sense of who I was altered. I grew stronger, more confident and had a greater sense of my worth. And then my parents would come over and call me by my full name. Bam! It was like a switch was flipped and I found myself struggling to keep the ground I had gained. This happened over and over until I learned to turn it off.

Although I did not know anything about programming or my cult family heritage at that time, I did understand that there was a definite connection to my full name and being controlled and molded. It was one of the key events of my life as I moved toward freedom. I never went back to my full birth name and now have a completely different name.

So, what’s in a name? I think a lot! My birth names were given by my parents. They had really nice meanings and had programming attached to them. My current names have wonderful meanings and freedom attached to them. They were gifts from my Creator…my heavenly Abba/Father. I am no longer bound to programming or to the former names. When someone from way back calls me by that name, I don’t like it, but the effect is no longer there. It is more of just an annoyance.

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2 comments

  1. I had a very like experience regarding my first name. When I divorced, I legally dropped my first name and kept neither my family (nor my husband’s) last name. The court hearing was my moment of liberation, and I did a major happy dance in the street outside the courthouse when all was said and done. I belonged to me. Finally.


    • It is very freeing. What is even more special for me is that, the day I filed for a legal name change was my sister’s birthday. I did not realize it until we went down there. It was just one of those “let’s go today” kind of things. We weren’t even sure we would get there in time, but we went anyway. It wasn’t until I had to date the paperwork that I realized the date. That was special. She did not survive, so in a sense, I was doing it for both of us.



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