What’s In A Name?

I’ve met a great deal of adult daughters of narcissistic mothers who have changed their names.  Some have legally changed it to something completely different while others, like me, have only tweaked the name they already have.  One thing all of us share in common though is no matter how it was changed, it felt so freeing!!

My mother always called me Cindy.  It always felt wrong somehow.  So about 15 years ago, it finally occurred to me that it is my name, & I can do with it whatever I like.  I began asking people to call me Cynthia, as that feels more comfortable for me.  Oddly, I was met with a great deal of protest from so-called friends who said I’d always be Cindy to them & they refused to make the change.  (Happily for me, all of them are out of my life now for various reasons.)  Since then, when meeting people, even introducing myself as Cynthia, some still call me Cindy, so I decided on a compromise- spell it Cyndi, which is the correct spelling anyway.

It feels so good to have made this change, as little as it is.  I feel this way- Cindy is the person my mother made.  The dysfunctional one who had no purpose in life other than to try to please her narcissistic parents.  Cindy is now dead.  Cynthia is much more functional, in spite of the C-PTSD & has her own mind, likes/dislikes & boundaries.  I feel like changing my name has helped to detach me from the dysfunctional, awful person I once was.

Something rather funny on this topic- when we adopted our little cat, Minnie Rose, her name was Baby.  She didn’t answer to it at all.  She was also extremely timid.  It took me a few days to come up with a name that seemed appropriate for her, & once I started calling her Minnie Rose, her entire demeanor changed.  She became much more confident & happy.  She likes the name so much, that she will get mad if I call her Baby even just as a term of endearment.  lol

This may sound odd to you, but I’m telling you, it does make you feel different & better to change your name after surviving narcissistic abuse.  Name changes have happened since the beginning of time, too, & God Himself changed some folks’ names.  Remember, Abraham was once Abram, Sarah once Sarai, Israel was Jacob.  When God changed people’s names in the Bible, the people changed accordingly.  God changed their names when he brought them into a better place than they had been in.  He did the same for me- I have healed so much since changing my name.

If you haven’t done so, why not consider making a change with your name?  Even if it’s just going by a nickname, it will change how you feel about yourself.  You have the right to make that change if you are so inclined, so why not exercise it?

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12 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

12 responses to “What’s In A Name?

  1. I started going by my middle name when I was six. I didn’t know it yet, but my mother was obsessed with the name Rebecca. I have an older cousin with the same name because of her. Everyone who knows me calls me Lisa and it feels like a kind of freedom from her chains that I chose my name.

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  2. Interesting post! I always hated my given name and last year I changed it legally to a first name I picked out and the middle name to my father’s choice of names for me (which I didn’t like for a first name). I can’t tell you how much I love my name now and enjoy hearing people use it. I wanted to do it for a long time and finally decided I couldn’t stand to hear that name for another day. Getting people accustomed to the change has been challenging but it’s going well now after a slow and torturous start. I think most people just think I’m crazy for doing it but I don’t care what they think as long as they honor my choice.

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    • Good for you! 🙂 That’s a brave thing to do, legally changing it, but I’m sure well worth the effort. I understand that torturous start.. it’s strange how some people just don’t want to call you a different name. As if it affects them directly somehow. Very odd!

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      • Yeah, saying, “You’ll always be Cindy to me” and refusing to call you by your preferred name is really disrespectful and rude. What do they care? It’s funny how people get all tied up about some things. I have to admit it felt a little strange at first, and still does on occasion, but I like the symbolism of naming myself and disconnecting from my mother that way. In a lot of cultures (Native American, for example) people will choose a new name when they come of age (become men or women) or after a rite of passage of some sort. I believe there are some religions that rename or add names after a certain age or rite as well. It’s not that odd, really.

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        • Agreed.. it’s very disrespectful & rude for sure! Why people care about such things is beyond me. My narcissistic mother is hung up on the spelling “Cindy” & is vicious about anyone using “Cyndi”, even though that is the correct spelling. (I never told her I changed mine- just easier not to deal with her drama) I thought it was just her until I started going by Cyndi to those who refused to call me Cynthia. Nope- lots of people are hung up on spelling. Same name, pronounced the same, just spelled a bit differently. Why people get their panties in a twist over it is beyond me!

          That is very true..some cultures & religions change names when young men & women reach a certain age. Like I posted too- God changed people’s names too in the Bible so it certainly can’t be a bad thing. I don’t understand why it’s such a big deal to some people when it’s really a pretty common practice.

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          • It really is much more common than most people think. My therapist’s sister changed her name to something like Sunshine or Moonbeam. A lady I know goes by Susan and I had no idea that wasn’t her legal name. Turns out it’s something like Cathy but she hates it. People get married and change their last names all the time. That’s ok to do. I find that harder to remember than a new first name. What we call ourselves does matter. To us. But it is not of anyone else’s concern. Your mother thinks she owns you, as do most narcissists. She doesn’t as you know. Renaming yourself gives you power and I applaud you for that.

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            • You’re so right. I know a lady who prefers being called by her last name, using it as her first because she dislikes her first name. Never knew that until she told me. It makes her happy, so what could be wrong with that?

              Absolutely.. what we call ourselves is very important. If others don’t like it, well, that’s their opinion only.

              Thank you so much! I also applaud you for changing your name as well! Any bit of power taken back from a narcissist is a very good thing.

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  3. That’s a very interesting story about your cat! I admit I did not take my husband’s last name. I still have my maiden name (which is also my mother’s maiden name). I really wrestled with the idea when we signed our marriage license. I just couldn’t do it. His last name came with so much baggage I did not want to inherit. I didn’t want them to think they owned me just because I had their last name. It sounded like a prison sentence, not an honor. Not to mention they had always treated me terribly and the last thing I wanted was to “be one of them”. My mother’s family, on the other hand, has always loved me unconditionally and we have strong roots that I’m proud of. It sounds terrible and the opposite of what marriage is supposed to be, but I didn’t want to trade those things for one another. It’s still something I feel bad about sometimes because I want my husband to know I support him and do submit to him as the Bible tells us to. But I can’t let them decide what my identity is and my name is a big part of that…

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    • Isn’t it though? Minnie Rose isn’t the first cat who’s chosen her name. My Poo Kitty chose hers too. She was supposed to be Angel- it fit her lovely looks & demeanor, but she didn’t like it. I started calling her Angel Poo & she liked it more. Eventually I dropped the Angel & started calling her Poo, then Poo Kitty & she really liked that. lol Interesting how smart animals are!

      I could’ve written what you said about taking your husband’s last name! I felt the same way, but let my husband & father push me into taking his name. I’ve regretted it since, which is why when I write, I hyphenate my surname with my maiden name. You are much smarter for not taking your husband’s last name! You would’ve hated it- trust me. How did your husband feel about you not taking his name?

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      • At first he said he wanted us to start a new family and new chapter with that name, saying it was about our new family and not his parents. But I didn’t really feel that was true, especially at that time when we were getting married. I think he’s still expecting me to change it one day, but for now he’s gotten used to me using my maiden name. I think he better understands why it’s part of who I am now.

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