The day I changed my name.
I feel like I have neglected this little haven of mine. I could blame it on the business of summer, kids, family, moving, work….but I won’t because the truth is, my head has been spinning. My sessions with my “special friend” (we will call her “friend”) have been getting more intense but more scattered. I was getting closer to the realities that I had been repressing and it scared me more than I care to admit. Then came the day that “friend” asked me to think of what exactly I needed to be able to come to terms with and accept the things “of which I do not speak.” As I drove home that night, I knew exactly what I needed.
- To say it out loud. I can no longer keep referring to these experiences as “it.” Saying it out loud would cement it in my mind that I was not making this up.
- A safe place.
- Someone I can trust. Someone with whom I feel safe enough to literally eviscerate myself and spill these awful things.
It would be another two weeks before “friend” and I would meet to discuss my homework. When we did meet, “friend” suggested we schedule this special session where I would bare my soul. In my mind, I thought, “Haven’t I already been doing that? I have cried and ranted, and blubbered for the past 6 months. Was that not soul-barring enough?” Apparently, it was not. So we set a date. I told “friend” that I felt like I had just scheduled my first pap-smear. The utter dread was hanging over my like the little boy from the Snoopy cartoons (Pig Pen, maybe?) Driving home (yes, there is something about that drive that just gives me too much time with my own thoughts) I suddenly realized that my “first pap-smear” analogy was not even close to being accurate. I felt like I had just scheduled my own rape. I had just consented to being stripped down to nothing, to be open and bare in a public place, to expose these fears and hurts that I just cannot brave saying.
The next two weeks were hell for me. “Friend” had told me to let her know if I decided to back out. Of course, I couldn’t imagine that I would EVER chicken out. Time, however, would tell a different story. My kids got on my last frayed nerve. My husband made me want to scream every time he opened his mouth. Or breathed, really. I began to wonder if I could go through with it. Then the USPS package containing the study book “friend” told me to order…The Wounded Heart- confirmation that this was really happening. The last 3-4 days leading up to this appointment, I felt panicky. What would this session even look like? Was I going to have to say everything EVERYTHING?? Was “friend” going to ask questions? Would she sit there and stare at me? I confided in probably my best girlfriend in the world (a friendship we will discuss here at length some day) and told her what was planned. She urged me to go, much as I thought she would. I took it as a sign that this was indeed something I HAD to endure no matter what.
The day finally arrived and I felt vomitous (if that isn’t a word, it should be) walking into the office. We did our usual ending ritual (scheduling, etc) as soon as I got there. Then “friend” asked if I wanted to sit outside in the lawn chairs she had set up earlier that day specifically for this little meeting. I consented just to change scenery in hopes that somehow this would make things easier. We sat in the chairs for a few minutes, shooting the breeze, and then “friend” fell silent. It wasn’t until the end of the session that I realized I had spent most of it curled up in a ball on my chair.
I forced myself to let the silence ride. I do not like silence. It makes me uncomfortable. I wonder what the other party is thinking, especially of me. But “friend” just sat there. She didn’t look at me. She did not speak. I don’t know why or how but that emotional dump trucked backed up and the word vomit began. I said things that had never left my thoughts. I told things that no one else knew, even “friend.” I cried a little but not nearly as much as I had thought I would. The anger, however, flowed. The questions at God and others raged as they left my mouth. “Friend” knew just when to ask a question, to gently prod me further, to loosen up the awkwardness that stood in the way of me fully emptying myself. Still, she never looked at me.
Time flew by and I realized I was calming down. The exhaustion kicked in and I felt like I had been hit by a train but I could breathe unlike the past few weeks. “Friend” asked me a question. “Can you make peace with the fact that, even though you don’t know exactly who or remember all the details, that someone damaged your sexuality and hurt you deeply?” To this, I answered a resounding yes. It just made sense for this first time in… ever. Then she asked me what questions I would ask God if I could ask him anything. I felt blasphemous but I asked the questions I had never dared before. Why would He leave me, floundering in my faith, and I was hurt and abused repeatedly? There were other questions but that was the most pressing, the questions that had burned inside my brain for as long as I can remember. There was no answer but neither was there a lightning strike.
The name change….yes, we are finally getting to THAT part. I told “friend” that I wanted to change my name. I have hated my name my whole life. Heck, I even told my mom at 4 years of age that I hated my name and planned to change it when I grew up. Spoiler alert: she cried. She also told me that some day I would like it. I never thought my mom could be wrong but she was. And the two weeks leading up to this session, I hated it even more. To my surprise, “friend” absolutely approved of changing it. No, I am not going to court to change it but rather pronouncing it differently. I guess this is my way of creating a new me. It’s not that I am trying to run away (that was my husband’s take on it- topic for a whole ‘nother rant). I am simply finding a way to move beyond the me that was hurt and scarred and finding a way to live without my past clouding my head every day. No, I will not explain my reasoning to everyone because frankly, some people cannot understand NOR can they be trusted with seeing these places of vulnerability. To them I will stay “old me” and therein lies another reason for me to purge people from my life.
But the very best moment came the day after this session. Attempting to text aforementioned bestie and cram as much detail into the texts as my swiping fingers would allow, I felt so at peace sharing what little I could with her (texting is not the best way to write a proverbial book, FYI). Later in the evening I received the most amazing thought in reply to our earlier conversation.
Sometimes we have to go back to the mess, the pain, the terror. Because, truly, God is waiting in the ruins.
All my love,