What’s In A Name?

I had an epiphany a few minutes ago, and I’m totally sick so I wanted to write it out before it left my brain forever. Also since I’m sick, you can bet your last cent this blog post is going to be rambly and messy and make no sense at all.

But anyway– I just listened to this podcast (listen here) about a woman, a few years older than me, who was bullied as a middleschooler, and brought the shame and depression from those years into her adulthood. It reminded me, first of my mom, who’s talked openly about how grade school bullying effected her whole life, and then it also reminded me of me.. in some ways. It stirred up a pot of feelings I’d been largely ignoring since I moved away from my hometown four years ago. Whoa! Four years. It feels like ten.

“The trick is just making yourself.”

We all wish that we could just make ourselves, right? We wish we weren’t constantly being pulled back into horrible memories, forced (by what?) to relive feelings we felt during formative years. Formative years. Those years when we were being formed. Back when we weren’t hard as rock, and able to repel the feelings caused by horrible people doing, or not doing heavy, impactful things.

The woman in the podcast went back and confronted the girls who bullied her in middleschool. She learned that they, too, were victims, and everything was put into great perspective and they all lived miserably ever after.

I think most of the girls I live in terror of, are probably just as scarred as I am. Poor us.

Anyway, I’m so far from my epiphany, where was I.. oh yeah!– so, I was stirring up all these thoughts and memories after the podcast, and suddenly, unprompted by anything (that I’m aware of), this popped in my head:

“..the name [is] the important thing for inspiring the necessary fear. You see, no one would surrender to the Dread Pirate Westley.”

Not thinking about the fact that I had thought about it, I began thinking about Westley. This guy fell in love (twue wuv), set out to reenforce that love, was taken captive, and would have been killed, if he hadn’t 1) been honest, and 2) been chosen by the bad guy to succeed him. In a sense, he was kind of like Joseph (of the Bible) in that way– he was acting out of his survival instinct, and yet was maintaining perfect integrity. And in that process, he was given a new name. (Sidebar– I wonder if Joseph was too, by Pharaoh?..)

Westley operated under the name of Roberts to survive, and gave it up when he regained Buttercup.

I was also thinking earlier today, about meaningful and symbolic practices in our lives. I was doing yoga the morning I got sick (last Tuesday, September 12th, sixteen years ago), and instead of holding my hands, palm-facing-down, I held them up. In yoga, when you hold your palms facing down, you’re releasing toxic energy, and when they’re up, you’re taking in positive energy. For a split second, I wondered if I would’ve possibly been able to bypass this damn cold if I’d released the toxic energy in me that day– but I know that symbolic behavior is only as effective as we believe it is, and I had no thought of toxic energy that day, so.. pointless thought.

Anyway, thinking that thought (that symbolic behavior is only as effective as we believe it is) made me think that I really ought to do something about this name I’ve been carrying around since childhood. Actually, I have a shit-fucking-ton of names I’ve been carrying around since childhood. I think the main one is Fearful though. More like Terror. Panic? I think Fear once served me. It helped get me through a difficult period of my childhood. The direction Fear points in is always very soothing.

That reminds me of another quote that’s always stuck with me, from White Oleander:

“Love humiliates you, but Hatred cradles you.”

And of course, what is Hatred but Fear. And also of course, that’s not true, but it definitely feels like it’s going to be. I haven’t invested my willpower to believe in something intangible in a long time. I pretty much solely believe in the symbolic nature of Christianity nowadays. I’ve never given much credence to the yogi spiritualism that so many of my exes have practiced. But I feel like it’s important to make personal symbolic statements, literally just for myself to look back on, with assurance and gravity.

The last time I made a statement like that, I was.. 18, I believe.. a Summer infatuation had dumped me, I was enjoying chain-smoking and living a fast-paced lifestyle mostly outside of my parents’ eyes. Had that terrible car accident and had to stay at their house for months. Realized most of the people I’d been hanging out with were flakes, and felt truly, truly lonely. And then, one day, I was taking a walk (smoke break) and just had a moment of clarity, and all I can really say about it is that God kissed the top of my head and said that it was just we two who mattered, and I could let go of the rest. I was so relieved, I felt like I had to do something in the moment, so I built a little structure out of sticks, leaves, dirt, and rocks. And that was my symbolic statement, that I imbued with this dense feeling of certainty. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

Anyhaaaaw, I wonder what I ought to do this time. I’m so sick, guys. My lungs are so full of chunk, I have to gasp for air every once in a while because I’ve been breathing so shallowly, I get light-headed. WHEN WILL THIS COLD PASS.

Aight. Done here. If you read this post (which I have not), and it struck any chord with you, please, feel invited to send me an email. I would love to talk with you about it.

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