What’s in a Name?
Say my name, say my name.. Sorry Destiny’s Child but there are a number of people in the population of earth that do not necessarily like hearing their names spoken or appreciate seeing them written and many of those of us are adoptees. I’ve always wondered why I have a disconnect with my name, is adoption the reason? I have come to believe that’s a yes.
This morning I reached out to the adoptee community to ask the question, how do we all feel about our names? The consensus is strong, there is a disconnect or a discomfort or for some even stronger feelings when they hear their names spoken. This isn’t unusual in the sense that there are others in human land who don’t like their names, many who when they hear their names hear their parents chastising them, but for adoptees there is another layer.
Names historically have been powerful amongst many cultures who believe that the name you are given is your identity. Who hasn’t when they have found out they are pregnant, or bringing home a new pet, or are meeting new people, or starting to date someone looked up a name to see its meaning? We are all guilty of at least one of those. The meaning of a name is seen by many as important.
So how does that work for those in the population who have been given one name and then lose it or have had it stolen or locked away in a pandoras box of sorts and have been given another, all without their permission or knowledge? I am beginning to wonder if this part of the adoption story needs to be brought out into the open.
I have two names, most adoptees do, especially those in the closed adoption era. I didn’t know my birth name, the one my birth, first, natural mother gave to me until my adoption records were unsealed. All my life I have struggled hearing my name. I wasn’t the naughty child always getting into trouble, I was the adoptee who was trying to be perfect out of fear of a second abandonment. Was I perfect, no, but I certainly didn’t want to rock the boat! However I know in the general population when people hear their full name they cringe as though they are getting into trouble, that is not the case here.
Why did this come up so strongly in the last day you may wonder. I was in conversation with someone I am getting to know and his mum and his mum was using one of my nicknames, and immediately I resonated with it. I recognise how I am much more comfortable with nicknames than I am with my actual name. If you use one of the nicknames I feel a sense of connection, I feel connected to myself but I also feel more connected to you when you use it. There’s no strange barrier with the nickname, however with the legal name there is. To explain this feeling it is like something coming up against another object but just not penetrating it at all. It is heard and it is felt but it doesn’t come inside. It doesn’t make sense and the dots do not connect.
Why do I have a greater affinity with nicknames? That’s another good question. My first thought with that is that there is an affection but also some fun with those. Maybe there is also a piece to that of vulnerability, of being seen, rather than the documented name… The documented name is who the government sees me as, it is who my employer sees me as, but who do I see me as? Sure that name plays a role, it’s how everyone knows it’s me, but when I hear you say one of those nicknames..
It says you get me.. It says you see me. It says you know me.
Now before anyone gets offended, I like my name, it’s a lovely name and there is nothing wrong with it. I am also not upset with my adoptive parents for giving me the name. It is a fact however that it doesn’t connect with me the way it could.
Is there another name that does? I don’t know.. Maybe I’ll let you all know when I find out! 😉 For now, the nicknames are my favourite and I love it when those closest to me use them. It speaks love. ❤