Thursday, May 03, 2007

What's in a Name?

A Name is Power.

In ancient times, they used to believe that you should never utter a baby's name aloud, lest evil overhear. If Evil knew the baby's name, it could use the name to cast a spell upon the child.

Among some American Indian tribes, they had a practice of adopting the names of their spirit guides, thereby summoning the guide's strength and power to them.

If you want to take this out of the realm of myth, you need look no further than a baby. What is one of a baby's first milestones? His first word. When that baby first names his "Mommy", he gains power. He can summon a grown adult to his side with just one simple word. Just two syllables gets him a smile, a hug, a diaper change or a bottle. All his simple needs met, with just a single word.

Now take this to the adult who is seriously ill. You're afraid, but you don't yet know of what. You can't sleep for the worry. You can't eat without choking. You can't ask for help, because you don't yet know what is wrong. You feel helpless against this nameless demon that is trying to take over your life.

But then, someone gives you its name - Depression. You can own it now. It is no longer a faceless demon, but a thing. Now that you know its name, you can ask others, "Have you seen the demon known as Depression? Do you know how to defeat it?"

Now that you know its name, you can summon forth a champion to help you fight it. "Who amongst you has the courage to slay the mighty demon in my name?"

"Go forth, Prozac (or Zoloft, or Effexor) and defeat the demon known as Depression!"

Names have power.

Until you can name your fears, until you can speak their names out loud, you are at their mercy. And they are neither merciful nor swift in the havoc that they cause.

Progress/The Cinder Block Wall

I have made progress (at last!) this past week. Many times before, I have been at a place in my head where it is okay to dress attractively, to wear flattering makeup, and take care to style my hair. But each time, I would hit a point where I would retreat, and not ever "know" why.

This time, I know that the voice in my head, telling me I shouldn't wear that, I shouldn't look like that, is my mother's. And I know she doesn't belong in there. I can take this fear of trying to be attractive and toss it back. It isn't mine. It doesn't belong to me. The girl with minimal makeup, practical clothes, and hair in a clip isn't me.

I am feminine. I like to feel "casually sexy". I like to dress in flattering clothes and wear nice makeup. I like to hear compliments about my skin and my hair. I still love to hear that I'm a great organizer, great assistant, great servicing agent, but I want people to see more of me! I want people to remember my smile, and how I laughed at something silly.

So that is my progress.

But these other fears? I still can't name them. Every time we try to journey a little deeper, this cinder block fortress wall pops up in my brain. And those nameless fears are right there, in the darkness, building the wall a little higher.

The therapist keeps pushing, trying to find a way to help me around, over, or under the wall, but each time, the wall gets higher and more menacing, until it feels like a physical weight in my head.