I recently watched a show about cults, & this episode featured the Heaven’s Gate cult. The entire story is interesting, but something said during an interview with an anti-cult lawyer really got my attention.
He was talking about how in cults, many people are forced to change their name to something very different, & Heaven’s Gate was no exception. He said something to the effect that many cult leaders require this of anyone who wishes to join them. It is a way to shed their old identity & take up a new one. Interesting, no?
It made me think of something. Many of us who have suffered narcissistic abuse have changed our names. I’ve done it. My parents always referred to me as “Cindy”. Now I ask no one call me that, & call me “Cynthia” instead. Other people may take this to a more extreme place & legally change their name to something entirely different, sometimes even changing their last name as well.
In any case, I think this is a good idea however it’s done.
When narcissists are involved with something, that thing can be tainted somehow. As an example, if you dated a narcissist who loved the same restaurant you love, after breaking up, you probably won’t want to visit that restaurant anymore. The same kind of thing can happen with your name. My parents never, ever called me Cynthia. My mother always said she loved the name Cindy, & C-I-N-D-Y is the only correct way to spell the name. As a result, Cindy feels nothing like the person I am, but the dysfunctional mess that I used to be. The person my parents created. By choosing to go by Cynthia, I took their power away by essentially killing off Cindy. As far as I’m concerned, that person no longer exists & will NOT be resurrected under any circumstances. Cynthia is the person that I’ve created, & the narcissists who have been in my life have absolutely no part in her.
If you’re reading this today, I hope you’ll consider what I’ve said. Whether you opt to alter your given name slightly, change its spelling or legally change it to something entirely different, it really can be a healing move. It empowers you by giving you control over something you should have control over. At the same time, it also helps you to shed the person that the narcissist in your life tried to turn you into. I can tell you, after years of being Cynthia, when I look at old things with Cindy on it, such as papers from when I was in school, it feels very different. When I look at my old name, even in my handwriting, it feels as if that is someone else I once knew & quite frankly, never really liked.
One final thought.. if you do opt to do this, if possible, I really don’t recommend telling the narcissist what you have done. If he or she is still in your life, then they will ruin it for you, & you’ll be right back to square one. You making a change to your name in any way will offend the narcissist, because it’s something you decided to do & followed through doing all on your own, without his or her input. Because of this, that will gain disapproval & anger. It’s better not to let the narcissist know this. My parents died without knowing I asked people to call me Cynthia. I did once tell my mother I preferred Cynthia, which shocked her, but I always signed cards to my parents Cindy, as she preferred. I knew who I was, in spite of them, so it wasn’t a big deal. It was a small price to pay to keep the peace in that area.