Calling Myself Names

What names do you call yourself?  How do you feel about those names?  Did you create them, or were you born into them? The names that touch me the deepest are the ones that identify my relationships with people.

I was born a daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece and cousin.  I later became a friend, sister-in-law and aunt, and have, on occasion, been a girlfriend.  (I have never been a wife, mother or daughter-in-law, and I will never be a grandparent) I feel a deep attachment to the names I call myself, and I am reluctant to let them go.

This week, I stopped being a niece, and I have been grieving the loss of that name along with the loss of my Uncle Joe.  Growing up, my aunts, uncles and cousins were at the center of my life.  They provided the framework for much of my childhood. 

My aunts and uncles are all gone now, along with two of my cousins, my grandparents, dad and a couple of dear friends.  I have never been good at letting go of the people I love, and the loss of my role as a niece feels like a kick to the gut.  The names I call myself are slowly falling away.

This is making me think of other words that define me. I went searching for names that illustrate who I am, and so far, I have come up with observer, wordsmith, songwriter, singer, performer, connecter, helper, nurturer, illuminator, artist and friend.

What names do you call yourself?

12 comments

  • N-O

    N-O

    This is a great blog.

    This is a great blog.

  • Denise

    Denise

    Thanks N-O. Thanks for reading along!

    Thanks N-O. Thanks for reading along!

  • Natalie

    Natalie

    I can also think of other names that I call you, and so you may call yourself by these names. . . if it's comfortable: cantorial singer, inpsirer, healer, soother, motivator, friend, teacher, maker of sacred and peaceful space so that others can explore their inner thoughts and feelings and potential.

    I can also think of other names that I call you, and so you may call yourself by these names. . . if it's comfortable: cantorial singer, inpsirer, healer, soother, motivator, friend, teacher, maker of sacred and peaceful space so that others can explore their inner thoughts and feelings and potential.

  • Helen Highwater

    Helen Highwater

    Beautifully written and moving, Denise. You could add communicator to the list.

    Beautifully written and moving, Denise. You could add communicator to the list.

  • alisa

    alisa

    Oh Denise, I am sorry to hear about your uncle Joe. Thought-provoking, moving message, as always.. though you forgot a few of your other names: Creator, Comforter, Kindred spirit, Confidante, Wisewoman, Cat mom! :) and so many more. Also I am reminded of this, if you will forgive the long cut&paste into your comments here.... :D THE NAMING OF CATS The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter, It isn't just one of your holiday games; You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES. First of all, there's the name that the family use daily, Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James, Such as Victor or Jonathan, or George or Bill Bailey - All of them sensible everyday names. There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter, Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames: Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter - But all of them sensible everyday names. But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular, A name that's peculiar, and more dignified, Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular, Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride? Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum, Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat, Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum - Names that never belong to more than one cat. But above and beyond there's still one name left over, And that is the name that you never will guess; The name that no human research can discover - But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess. When you notice a cat in profound meditation, The reason, I tell you, is always the same: His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name: His ineffable effable Effanineffable Deep and inscrutable singular Name. T S Elliot

    Oh Denise, I am sorry to hear about your uncle Joe.

    Thought-provoking, moving message, as always.. though you forgot a few of your other names: Creator, Comforter, Kindred spirit, Confidante, Wisewoman, Cat mom! smile and so many more.

    Also I am reminded of this, if you will forgive the long cut&paste into your comments here.... biggrin

    THE NAMING OF CATS

    The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
    It isn't just one of your holiday games;
    You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
    When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
    First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
    Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
    Such as Victor or Jonathan, or George or Bill Bailey -
    All of them sensible everyday names.
    There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
    Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
    Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter -
    But all of them sensible everyday names.
    But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
    A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
    Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
    Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
    Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
    Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
    Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum -
    Names that never belong to more than one cat.
    But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
    And that is the name that you never will guess;
    The name that no human research can discover -
    But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
    When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
    The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
    His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
    Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
    His ineffable effable
    Effanineffable
    Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

    T S Elliot

  • Denise

    Denise

    Thank you Natalie, Helen and Alisa for joining the conversation. You all are making me smile! I am happy to add the names you attribute to me to the ones I call myself. I am grateful to be experienced the way you describe. Alisa, thanks for the poem reminder. I have always liked that one...

    Thank you Natalie, Helen and Alisa for joining the conversation. You all are making me smile!

    I am happy to add the names you attribute to me to the ones I call myself. I am grateful to be experienced the way you describe.

    Alisa, thanks for the poem reminder. I have always liked that one...

  • Mary

    Mary

    Denise, I am so sorry or your loss. Every loss leaves us changed - but the ones that shift our identity can be so profound. Your writings about names mad me think of identity exercises I have done for groups. We ask people to think about the name they were born with and what it means to them now. I always disliked my name. To me the mame "Mary" was so boring. I grew up Irish catholic so at family gatherings there were a plethora of Mary's. I was told I was supposed to be honored to be named after my Grandmother and the mother of Jesus. As my religious experiences broadened I began to associate Mary as the "goddess" found in earth bases religions. How ironic that one of the most patriarchal religions also has statues and ceremonies dedicated to Mary "aka the goddess". So I think often it is not the name we give ourselves but the story sound the name ... Blessings of light and laughter! Mary

    Denise, I am so sorry or your loss. Every loss leaves us changed - but the ones that shift our identity can be so profound. Your writings about names mad me think of identity exercises I have done for groups. We ask people to think about the name they were born with and what it means to them now. I always disliked my name. To me the mame "Mary" was so boring. I grew up Irish catholic so at family gatherings there were a plethora of Mary's. I was told I was supposed to be honored to be named after my Grandmother and the mother of Jesus. As my religious experiences broadened I began to associate Mary as the "goddess" found in earth bases religions. How ironic that one of the most patriarchal religions also has statues and ceremonies dedicated to Mary "aka the goddess". So I think often it is not the name we give ourselves but the story sound the name ... Blessings of light and laughter! Mary

  • Denise

    Denise

    Thank you for your story Mary, and you are right, it is the meaning we attribute, the stories around the names that are powerful. I remember not liking my name when I was younger. It felt like it didn't fit me, and I didn't like the sound of it. Now, I feel like I have grown into it. I don't have a story around it, and I never seem to remember who I was named for. Jewish people name for the deceased, and the person I was named for is not a story I have retained. You are inspiring me to have a conversation with my mom about it. Thanks!

    Thank you for your story Mary, and you are right, it is the meaning we attribute, the stories around the names that are powerful. I remember not liking my name when I was younger. It felt like it didn't fit me, and I didn't like the sound of it. Now, I feel like I have grown into it. I don't have a story around it, and I never seem to remember who I was named for. Jewish people name for the deceased, and the person I was named for is not a story I have retained. You are inspiring me to have a conversation with my mom about it. Thanks!

  • Harry

    Harry

    here are a few of the beautiful things i think of as names for you... woman-teen-child, inspirer-er, contemplater, imaginator, compassionator, creator, purveyor, lover, aviator-dreamer, and human

    here are a few of the beautiful things i think of as names for you...
    woman-teen-child, inspirer-er, contemplater, imaginator, compassionator, creator, purveyor, lover, aviator-dreamer, and human

  • harry

    harry

    this is only a test

    this is only a test

  • harry

    harry

    i'm sorry about your losses. i dont find loss to be getting any easier the more i go thru it. it wicked hurts each time. but i do think that pain is a way of expressing how deeply we felt about the person to begin with. a testimony of sorts... here are a few of the beautiful things i think of as you... woman-teen-child, inspirer-er, contemplater, imaginator, compassionator, creator, purveyor, lover, aviator-dreamer, and human. thanks for another contemplative blog... harry

    i'm sorry about your losses. i dont find loss to be getting any easier the more i go thru it. it wicked hurts each time. but i do think that pain is a way of expressing how deeply we felt about the person to begin with. a testimony of sorts...

    here are a few of the beautiful things i think of as you...
    woman-teen-child, inspirer-er, contemplater, imaginator, compassionator, creator, purveyor, lover, aviator-dreamer, and human.

    thanks for another contemplative blog... harry

  • Denise

    Denise

    What a tribute Harry! I am touched... I am intrigued by aviator-dreamer. I will think about that. I agree about loss. The pain is a testament. There are always gifts in it too, but it is hard won. Thanks for commenting. Always appreciated...

    What a tribute Harry! I am touched... I am intrigued by aviator-dreamer. I will think about that.
    I agree about loss. The pain is a testament. There are always gifts in it too, but it is hard won.
    Thanks for commenting. Always appreciated...

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