Sunday, September 12, 2010

What's In A Name?

In six days, I am getting married. My name will be changing from one I have known for decades, to one that is brand new. I will no longer be Katie Hawkins, but Katie Truax.

So what's the big deal? What's in a name?

When I think of my family name, I think of strength, of character, of endurance, honor, and integrity. I have to admit, there's a part of me that's sad to lose it. It's a name that came with a sense of belonging. Not many people know that I chose my name. When I was 9 (ish?), I decided that I wanted to be called "Hawkins" like my mom, my sister, and my "Daddy." My stepfather claimed me as his own in heart and spirit when I was just a baby, and took vows to me as well when he married my mother a few years later, but it wasn't until I was in elementary school, did I think that I needed his name as well. Within no time at all, we filed some papers, and legally I went from being Kathryn Lucille Hagler to Kathryn Lucille Hagler Hawkins.

In 6 days, I will say "I do," file some different papers, and go from being Kathryn Lucille Hagler Hawkins to Kathryn Hawkins Truax. I am choosing to keep both the name of the family that has loved me for almost thirty years, and to take the name of the man who is promising to love me for at least the next fifty. On September 18th, not only will I proudly become a Truax, but I will also become a wife and a stepmommy. I will be a daughter, a sister, a mother, a wife, a friend, a therapist, a client, a neighbor, and the list could go on.

So what's in a name? What do you call yourself?

When you go to therapy, are you a "patient" or a "client?" Are you a "peer?" Are you a "partner in wellness?" Are you "mentally ill" or are there "things that you struggle with?" Are you a "victim?" A "survivor?" A thriver?" Are you bipolar, DID, depressed, anxious, autistic, borderline, ADHD, an alcoholic, etc. or do you honor yourself by recognizing that you are a person who may happen to be challenged by one of those situations at the time?

And does it even matter? Would it matter if my last name happened to be Stalin, or Hitler, or Hussein? Would I be any more or less eager to change it? Would different connotations come with thinking about my family name? Would others look at me differently? Would I look at myself differently and perhaps even treat myself differently?

So, in honor of my upcoming transition from Hawkins to Truax, my challenge to you is this: Think carefully about how you name yourself. Question your assumptions about yourself. Who do you want to be? What do you want to be? Do you carry any labels that bring you shame, doubt, or keep you stuck? Do you identify in ways that are less than truthful or don't convey the most honest sense of who you know yourself to be? I challenge you to shed any labels you have been carrying that don't fit or aren't in your highest good. Choose to be mindful of how you identify yourself in this world. Begin creating a truth for yourself that is rich, honest, and filled with positive intentions.

In answer to Shakespeare's famous query, perhaps a rose by any other name might not smell as sweet, but perhaps it might indeed grow taller, heartier, and reach more vigorously toward the sun.

All the Best,