A Name is just a Name, or Is It?

I took a lot of care when choosing my own children’s names
It was important to me that they had names that meant something strong and positive
They are another story for another time…

I know Why I was named but due to my young life experiences
all of my three names have held very negative connotations

Recently whilst discussing my innate ability to help others my therapist suggested I was a human rights activist
“No – more of an advocate”
‘What other descriptives do you think of yourself?’
“Warrior” popped into my head
and with that our talk wound its way down a rabbit hole which has turned my perceptions of my names and myself upside down
In a good way

I have always hated my second name
My parents had friends
An elderly childless couple
They named me after her
I have always hated the name but joked it out by saying at least I saved my brothers
His name was Percival!
They were reprieved from that – they really do need to thank me for bearing the burden 🙂

But when my therapist began leading me to explore further
I knew Hilda meant Battle or Battlemaiden
And even though we both have similar Shetland / Scandinavian roots she did not know about the Valkeries
So we began exploring the stories,
The Valkeries carried the chosen dead from the battlefields and carried them to Valhalla for Odin
They were fierce, determined, caring,
Hildr was one of the named ones
she was recorded as being of importance
The name was written
With my Scandinavian roots and my lifelong battle to overcome the effects from my childhood abuse this really begun to resonate with me
Maybe a spelling change could change my perception on my name?

My first name also has held a negative tone for me
I was named after my father
I was supposed to be a boy – Raymond – his second name
But I was born a girl so I was Raewyn
This is a made up combination name
and is uncommon outside of New Zealand
and generally it is found in my age group
In fact statistics show it doesn’t appear as a birth name after 1971
There was never a specific meaning
White doe is the closest I ever got and that seemed very twee to me

Once I began facing the demons of my past I really struggled with my name
I hated that he was responsible for it
That it tied me to him
Or I felt it identified me with him

Here in New Zealand we are encouraged to give our mihi or introduction when greeting
And within that we disclose our ancestral journey
Identifying our forebears, our origins,
I so struggled with this as I did not want to identify with him in any way
A Maori friend helped me to process this in a way
that really helped me identify in my present past
not my damaged past
So I could mihi safely

It wasn’t until I became friends with international friends who commented how unusual my name was.
In fact a young American friend messaged me a few years ago and asked if I’d mind if she need her daughter Raewyn
I was honoured
It was then I began to realise how unusual it was
special even!
And since marrying my American and traveling there with him
I am embracing it more positively and confidently
In fact I had a lot of fun with their inabilities to pronounce or spell it when I say it 🙂

Then whilst down the rabbit hole I began some researching and discovered that in the 1890’s when the suffrage movement was in full swing here
1893 NZ was the first self governing nation to give women the right to vote!
Anyways there supposedly was a woman named Rae Wynn who was involved in the suffrage movement which could’ve sparked people honouring her by calling their babies Raewyn, Raewynn, Raewynne,…

I also know that my paternal grandmother who carried that name must’ve been an amazing woman
So I try now to look beyond that previous generation and identify with the women in my family tree from before who were pioneers
Women who must have had so much strength & resilience

It feels good to be discovering strengths and positivity in my name
Empowering even!

My maiden name has left a very sour taste in my mouth
I struggle to identify with anything pertaining to my father
I married at 21 so I have carried a different surname for over 43 years
That has eased my aversion
But I still become very triggered when forced to fill out paperwork with that name
Or if I am identified as part of the family who carry that name

Names are important
Never underestimate the power of your name
And if you meet someone
Never Ever Assume you can shorten their name
Or use their familial nickname
Unless you have their permission
Or I might have to send my Valkyrie to deal with you 😉

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