Despite my sweetness and light lately, I realised something important this week: my name is a huge trigger for me (my proper name, not my nickname on this blog).

I’d been puzzling for a while why I hate it so much when people say my name, or even when I see it written in an email or something. And why I inject hatred and anger into those emails, even where there is none.

My therapist thinks it’s because when I hear (or see) my name, I ascribe my father’s voice to it – his harsh tone, his accent, the gravel in his voice, everything.

I’ve thought of changing my name, but that doesn’t seem like such a smart thing to do. Actually, a total pain in the proverbial when you consider all the stuff you’d have to change, and the documents you’d have to carry around to prove you really are who you say you are – banking, health insurance, driver’s license, etc etc etc.

My therapist says this might just be a phase, and may be it will pass. I hope so. It’s really hard living in a world where your name makes you wig out whenever you hear it, or see it in print.


8 thoughts on “Names

  1. Oh Kerro, I can really identify with this. I HATED my name, hated hearing it, hated reading or writing it and especially hated saying it – I eventually worked out that one of the reasons I found making phonecalls so difficult was because of having to identify myself with it.

    I did change my name eventually, though I thought about it for a long time before I actually did it, because yes, there is a lot of paperwork and hassle involved. I kept my first name, because there were people I liked who knew me as that (though I do know survivors who have changed their names completely) but I chose for myself a new middle name and a new surname. And I’m so glad I did, it was a really important, powerful and symbolic step for me. Now that person with the old name seems like a stranger or a ghost, and I feel more like my *self* than I ever have. I like my new name, I like the way it looks, I like the way it sounds, it feels like it belongs to me.

    That may not be the right choice for you, and it’s not something to rush into because it has such implications, both practically and emotionally, but whatever way you find to deal with this, take care x

  2. I changed my first and last name legally many years ago now. I recommend it. I wanted to get rid of my father/abuser’s last name and also to be able to write about what happened without fear of a lawsuit. My new name fits me way better than my old one did, and I also got rid of the baggage associated with my old first name, like remembering being taunted about it in school, treated badly by people who knew me under that name and such. Over time, I’m more okay with my old first name now, and when relatives and such slip up and call me by it, it feels fine, but it’s not my ‘real’ name anymore in a certain way. If you want to change your name, go ahead, it was a good experience for me. Getting the id and such wasn’t such a big deal. A bit of cost associated, and some paperwork, but not too bad.

  3. My name can be said many ways, mainly depending on your religious beliefs. If someone should happen to say my name the way my Nan used to (Catholic version), I have such a bad reaction it’s incredible. So, I do know what you mean about hearing your father’s voice when you hear your full name… One solution is to change your name, another is to “go by” another name. Several people I know use either their middle name or a shortened version of their birth name in everyday life without changing their name officially. This means that they keep all the legal issues under control, and just need to fill in the “Preferred name” section of the legal/business forms.

    Do you have an idea what you’d like to use as an alternative name?

    Take care,

  4. Thanks everyone for your comments. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this. I’ve thought of using a nickname – though my real name isn’t easily shortened to anything and the nicknames I do have are quite informal (or plain crazy). I’ve also thought of using my middle name, but it just feels weird. As tempting as it is to change, I’m not going to rush into anything.

    Thanks again.

  5. I’ve already changed my firstname 🙂 and I’m really glad that I have done this. I hope that I can change my last name soon too, but this is much more difficult and expensive 😦
    I HATE my lastname 😦

  6. This has been really interesting to read. I hate the name that I was called in childhood too. (It’s a common diminutive of my first name) When I got to uni I tried to get people to call me a completely different name – Jessica – love that name! But it didn’t work. I did however start to introduce myself using a different shortened version of my name and that worked. I was very lucky to have a long name that can be shortened in a few different ways. Now there are only a couple of people who use my childhood name and it always feels weird when they do so.

    Once in therapy my T accidently used my childhood name…I felt like throwing up. We discussed it and if he ever uses the name now, it’s purposeful and is used as if he’s referring to a separate little person.

    There must be a psychology thesis in thus name thing somewhere.

  7. Me too. I get triggered real bad and it is hugely because abusers used it and an sex abuser gave me the name. I use my nickname all the time now and introduce myself to people I don’t know by my nickname. I plan on changing my name legally. Just haven’t done it yet.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.


  8. Just providing an alternative explanation… this may have little to do with hearing your father’s voice. Or it may be more than that. I usually ascribe this to “not being comfortable with me”. Period. Nothing more or less.

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