17 June 2012

My Real Name Is . . .

NOT the name on my birth, or even my baptismal, certificate.  All my life I've understood that Mary Jo as a label doesn't really tell you anything about what's on the inside - and obviously fails to adequately or imagistically describe my outsides as well.  My evidence?  People keep calling me by other names!

Often even folks who know me well, people with whom I've worked for years, friends, and random others call me Joanne or Marion or Mary Jane or Mary Anne or some other such.  And in doing so, they aren't "nicknaming" me (I've asked them) or even consciously aware THAT in uttering those words they were mis-naming me!  Hell, I even had a therapist - one who was TRULY helpful and who saw and honored me (inside and out) in every moment, but who occasionally said "Well, as you and I both know Mary Jane . . . "

When I was little my grandparents (my dad's mom and step-dad) called me Jish.  I actually like that - and liked it even more when I discovered recently that the word has meaning.  A jish is a Navajo medicine bag or bundle - the place where the healer places the ingredients and totems, the familiars, the tools needed for ceremonies of healing or spiritual seeking.  Yet even this, a word I can definitely get into and would feel a desire to live up to as a name, presents problems.  I ain't Navajo, or any tribe at all except northern European white people (at least as far as I can tell in looking back about six generations).  So - to appropriate the word feels like stealing - like I'm trying to worm my way into a culture and a world view that is not mine, by any right of birth.  It kinda feels - when considering using the word - as if I'd started to dress in dashiki, let my hair turn to dredlocks, as if that would make me a person of color.  In actual fact - for those who may read this and do not know me - I am one of the WHITEST women in town.

Perhaps I'm not that inside, or in outlook, or in desire - but a name has to work for the outside as well as the in.  Perhaps I just lack courage in this area - the courage to just not worry about names any more than I worry (most of the time) about weight or hair color or other externals.

Or perhaps I'm just busy fighting against something that, in the end, doesn't matter all that much.  Or even feeling at odds with my name when it may well have something to teach me - since it's SUPPOSED to be a combo of the names of my parents:  Manuel and Josephine.  Guess it could have been worse.  Guess they could have switched the words around to Josephine Mary, or elaborated on Daddy's name - Manuela.  Maybe, in the end, it's just something - this sense that I am mis-named and that my REAL name is still out there somewhere - that I need to spend some more time with and learn from - as with all else in this amazing life.

[This entry arises from a "Writing From The Soul" prompt.  As usual, when I take up these prompts, something both interesting and challenging rises up out of the writing and I learn more about myself.  I thought to share it as a posting, just to see what y'all would respond to - also because I was feeling guilty that I hadn't written a post since May!  Hugs Mary Jo [Jish?]]