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Posts Tagged ‘Identity’

Before I start to write what’s on my mind, I want to point out that I’m not interested in starting a debate, or a flame war.  I also don’t want to stifle others opportunity to express themselves, so if you have comments you’re welcome to share them.

So what’s the topic? Abortion and Choices.

I think that each woman should be permitted — and given the opportunity — to decide where she stands on this issue. I don’t think it’s a good idea to remove the legality of abortion; back alley abortions terrify me.  But I also know that, legal or not, I would not choose to have an abortion.  I’ve felt this way since I was a young teenager. It’s not because of any spiritual beliefs that I hold. It’s not because of where I define the start of ‘life’. Though those ideas may have otherwise played roles in my stance had there not been an overriding reason.

What is that reason? To answer that question I need to tell you a story. I don’t remember first hearing this story but it was my favourite story as a young child:

There was, a young couple who tried for several years to have kids of their own.  But they couldn’t.  So they decided to start the process of adoption.  They waited and waited and waited. Eventually the husband got a call at the office. There was a baby girl, born to a 19 year old, single mom who couldn’t care for this tiny baby herself.  This single mom wanted this tiny baby to be cared for by a family who was ready to have kids, who wanted kids, who could love her and care for her as she deserves. This tiny baby girl was waiting for a couple just like them.  The husband dropped everything. Called his wife and they made plans. He ran around telling everyone in his office. Rushing home they booked a flight and flew up to Prince George.  The nurse brought this little baby girl, 10 days old, and placed her in the couples’ arms.  It was time for this tiny baby to be burped, so the husband gave it a try, but this baby was so small that he just tap tap tapped on this baby’s back — he was afraid he’d break her. The nurse just smiled, took the baby girl back, gave her a good strong ‘thump, thump’ until the baby let out a strong ‘BURP’.  At first, the hospital didn’t want to release the baby to this couple, simply because the baby had an eye infection. Fortunately, this couple had a cousin who was an opthamologist so the baby was released into their care.   Flying home, they had a seat between them where the tiny baby girl was placed and where she could hold on to both their fingers.  When they got home, their family was waiting: aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents. This baby girl’s family.

That baby girl was me. The young couple: they’re my parents. I don’t remember not knowing this story, as a child I may not have understood fully what it meant, but I felt loved. Special. Chosen.  As I grew older, I understood that it was a different way of forming a family, not the usual. But that didn’t matter. I was special, chosen, wanted by my parents.  They are my parents, my family. My real family. My family connection is about love and choice, there may not be the “biology”, but it’s real and it’s my family. I love them. Dearly.  When I was 3 we got my ‘baby’ brother. That was my other favourite story to hear as a child. But that’s his story to tell, so I will let him tell that story.

This story of how my life began has had a profound affect on my life. It was that crossroad in my life. It was an initial defining event in my life that shaped who I am today. I find I’m continuing to learn what that means. Furthering my understanding of how that affects me, who I am, who I will become and even my core personality.

One profound way it’s affected me goes back to when I was in high school and I’d heard rumours of a girl having an abortion. I realized then where I stood on that issue. Regardless of spirituality, or any of the standard arguments, the reality is that I was born to a teenage single mother.   Yes, abortion wasn’t legal (as far as I know) back in the day — but it definitely happened, and frequently. It was an option. Yet she chose to give me life.  Indeed, this choice was the first profound impact on my life, the first crossroad. Giving me life, allowing the pregnancy to progress.

I realized back when I was a young teenager, that I had a great deal of respect for that choice and it struck me very firmly that as much as it may be difficult to walk that path, if ever I was faced with that decision, that I too would choose life. I could not choose abortion.  As was done for me, so I would do.  This, fortunately, is not a decision I have had to face.  I want it to be known too, I will always stand by any girl friend and their choices in this area; this is simply my choice.

And these choices, back before I was ever aware… how they continue to impact me. In ways I don’t yet understand.

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I’m considering questions of identity, goals, who I am, vocation.  So I’ve posted just below this one a longer post about the question of names and identity and at the end I posed this question:

I have specific reasons for wondering, and I wont go into why I’m asking this just yet, but I will in a later post. For now, I am curious — when you think of ‘who’ I am, what is my name? And, No, please don’t answer Christina. I’m curious if my identity reminds anyone of any other names.

I realize that it’s quite a long post, so here’s the question again. I really am curious about people’s answers.

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I’m not even sure where to begin with what I want to write. Thoughts that have been going around my mind and are connected to this post.  Am I who I am regardless of what someone calls me?  I’m not talking about teasing, or calling a person ‘names’. I mean literally, someone’s name. We all have nicknames. I had a nickname at camp. It was completely different from my name. I was pretty used to it, I still look up if someone calls me that. It’s now my internet handle.  Some people shorten my name from full to nicknames.  As I’m sure you all can guess (based on the name in my blog — at least, for those who don’t know me) my first name is Christina.  I have several nicknames.

Growing up, my family called me Chrisa.  Many cousins still do. Now my family generally calls me Chris.  Most of my closest friends call me Chris. I like and prefer nicknames because it implies a certain closeness and connection. Though I still introduce myself as Christina — but I do like (and perhaps even prefer) if friends end up calling me Chris.  But what about other nicknames — ones that don’t naturally develop? I had one nickname — Tina — that was never used. Well, one friend in high school decided to be different and called me that. I told the Tina story to one of my running buddies and now, he too sometimes calls me that. At first it was funny, but now it’s ‘normal’. It’s unique and endearing (in my opinion), and even though it would never occur to me to introduce myself as Tina (Chris, yes, that does happen on occasion), I do like it.  I don’t ‘identify’ myself as a Tina in the same way that I do Chris, Chrisa or Christina.  Perhaps that’s because it’s a more unique nickname I’ve never had the time or a reason to develop that part of my identity.

How does one’s identity change or develop as one has a new name? When I used ‘Oasis’ for a summer camp nickname — it meant my identity was that of “camp staff”.  Chrisa to me has always meant ‘family’ (or yes, those who have known me my entire life) — that to the person using that nickname I am ‘family’ to them.  My immediate family uses Chris as do many, or most, of my close friends. It’s the most ‘usual’ nickname I get.

What about last names? When a woman marries, sometimes they choose to change their name. I wonder how their identity changes if they change their name or don’t when they get married. I would expect — and being single I’m just guessing (Married friend — do you want to comment?) — that when a woman starts using her married name it identifies her to herself (and others, I would imagine) as part of that family. Not that she’s no longer a part of her parent’s family but that there is that development of a new ‘immediate family’.

What about completely changing a name, by choice? I have one friend who has done that. I don’t think I can really comment on what experience was like — it’s her story to tell if she so chooses.  But to me, it would be defining in some way. She told me her original name and to me she is so much who her name is now that I don’t even fathom that she ‘is’ her original name.  What about a child’s name? One of my good friends has a son and she’s mentioned changing his name in a couple of ways. Whether or not she does, or is able to is a different question. If she wants to comment on her thoughts on that, here, is wholly up to her. How would it affect her son’s self-identity?  I think my opinion is biased.  I know her son’s still quite young, and part of his identity — relating to his name — will depend on whether or not she teaches him his full legal name, a shortened version, or whatnot.

If, to make a generic example, a child is legally named “Matthew James Brown-Smith” and the child is raised as “Matthew James Smith” or “Matthew Brown Smith” would it affect things at all once (or if) the guardian legally changes the child’s name to whatever he’s using? Probably not.  Would it affect things for the child’s identity if he is raised as “Matthew James Smith” and later on he finds out that his name is legally “Matthew James Brown-Smith”? I think, depending on the person or the situation, it could. Regardless, there are ways to handle the situation — whether or not the name is legally changed, communication will be needed, and that can go a long way to making it easier to handle.  What if that child was legally “Matthew James Brown-Smith” but was raised as “David Charles Roy”?

There’s another situation where a person’s name is often legally changed — adoption. Last name, and often a chid’s first and middle name. In this case, the affect a name change has on a child is probably secondary to the global effect that adoption has on a child (which is certainly not to say that it’s a bad effect, necessarily — I’m the last to say that it’s a bad thing).  And I know that each person’s experience is different.  I suppose this brings me to the crux of what I’m thinking of: How much is my identity linked to my name? I realize it’s an impossible question for those who know me to answer, but if I wasn’t called Christina what name can you see me being called?  I have specific reasons for wondering, and I wont go into why I’m asking this just yet, but I will in a later post. For now, I am curious — when you think of ‘who’ I am, what is my name? And, No, please don’t answer Christina. I’m curious if my identity reminds anyone of any other names.

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What’s in a name?

“That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

But would it? It’s a question many people ask. I know many women ask that question before they get married, my friends have — perhaps not universally, but certainly some wonder how changing one’s name can have an affect on one’s identity. What about when you have a child? Does choosing the child’s name help define who they are? Would naming a boy David make him grow up to be a different person than if he was named Eugene?  What about a girl named Bertha compared with a girl named Jennifer or Michelle or Sarah? Does a name define who we are or would we be who we are regardless of our name? Last name? I haven’t answered the ‘name change’ question with regards to marriage, and I’m not particularly concerned about it right now because I doubt I’m going to come to that bridge.

But it is a question I’ve asked myself on and off over the years and I was reminded of it today when I saw this article today. This isn’t about a person changing their name, but about a place. Yet it did make me wonder.  There will be more about this question in coming weeks perhaps, identity, life direction and all that.  For now though I’m just asking the question and all will eventually make sense.

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