What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare
So, what IS in a name?
Some people don’t like their own given name, and sometimes we don’t like someone else’s name. Sometimes we are in wonderment at how someone might have arrived at a particular name, or notice that a name has a funny ring to it, or sounds like it might be from another language than our own, etc. I remember disliking my name when I was young. I much preferred nicknames to my own given name when I was a teenager. That changed as I grew into an adult, but not necessarily for the reasons this post is about… until now.
Our family has another grandbaby on the way — our third. So it’s an exciting time! I was teasing the kids about naming the baby after me — even if it was a boy — or combining mine and mother’s names — DeboRosa. Yeah, I know how it sounds. My former husband says it sounds too much like “ambrosia,” which I still feel qualifies it for the possibility list. (I’m seriously just kidding.)
When I was out for my walk the other day, I was chuckling to myself about that conversation. Then I started thinking about our children’s names. All three boys are named after beloved family members who are not only loved, but strong in character. The lone girl’s name was chosen because it sounded pretty (and it is — almost as pretty as her). Our first granddaughter is named the same way, and our first grandson is named after his father and has a middle name with a very special meaning in Spanish. Anyway, that’s the context for this post.
As I and my thoughts meandered around the neighborhood, it occurred to me just how much I love our kids’ names, and how much they mean to me. I started thinking about the things I mentioned above about my own name, about times when I couldn’t imagine why someone would name a child “that,” or when I heard someone making fun of a name because it sounded “foreign.” I know people who have changed their names because they didn’t like them, and others because the name they were given at birth did not match their gender identity. I know some who have changed their names because they wanted a more American-sounding name. (That makes me sad for a few reasons.) I also recalled some people whose names make me personally feel a particular way — upset, angry, sad, fearful, anxious. And there are still others when I hear them, I feel joy, love, warmth, happiness. But I couldn’t recall ever hearing a parent say that they regretted giving a particular name to their child/ren.
I worked in various positions in healthcare, primarily women’s health for many years. Names were important, and spellings of those names were extremely important. I used to keep a list in my drawer of the peculiar or unusual ones. Some seemed thoughtful, but others still have me scratching my head to this day. Nonetheless, someone cared about those names enough and whatever was behind them to dole them out to a most precious gift.
How do people respond to your name? How do they feel when they hear it? How do you feel about your own name? How will you hear names after this?
When your parent/s gave you your name, it sounded like love in their soul, like music to their ears, a song etched in their heart, or a sweet memory worthy of sharing. It meant something to the person that thoughtfully gave you your name, and they heard something in it, knew someting about it no one else could hear, see, or feel quite the same.
When you set out to cause suffering in another, you double your own and invite more of it. You cannot escape the suffering you put on others until you give up the practice of causing it, and give up your addiction to that savage, satiating feeling you think fixes you when you cause it.
This manufacturing of suffering is a vicious cycle for all involved. Life brings suffering at times on its own, this is a fact. But the manufacturing of it is something else. It’s abuse, for one thing, and manipulation. But more than that, it’s a whole cycle. The one inflicting the suffering circumstances (manipulator, abuser) is already suffering. What a horrid way to go through life — perpetrating hurt and pain on others. I’ve heard victims say that they don’t understand how the abuser lives such a good life, or gets away with their behavior. I can see how it appears that way, but I think this is mostly false.
Once the cycle starts, the target will find ways to avoid the circumstances and abusers will double-down on their victims, but the suffering continues to return to the manipulator and multiplies by a factor of their own and the person/s they’re hurting. One’s own suffering can’t actually be cured or satiated by inflicting more suffering. And if you’re the abuser, frankly, you give up your right to be angry at the change in people caused by your endless refusal or inability to be decent, or their willingness to go to great lengths to stay out of your line of fire. That’s part of the price you pay. So… more suffering.