Ewe. That’s right. Ewe. Upon my arrival into this world on Elvis’ birthday 1988, my parents looked at their wailing bundle of black hair wrapped in pink and decided to bestow upon me a name that means “female sheep”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my name and I feel it suits me just fine. I just think it odd that I am named after a ruminant (ironic given my current medical issues) farm animal best known for following Mary everywhere she went (as in Mary had a little lamb the nursery rhyme).
As I have gone through life, I have accumulated many names. Most everyone calls me Rhea. Others stick with Rachel. My father calls me Moose. The bullies from my past used to call me Rumpke (due to the fact that my initials are RMK and RuMpKe is a local garbage company). I am still not sure whether they were implying that I am a landfill or that I owned a garbage company. My aunt calls me Rach. I detest being called Rach; it sounds so abrasive. That is why she is the only one I will allow to call me Rach.
In addition to those names mentioned above, ED has given me many choice names as well. The time I ended up with a B on my transcript for college Spanish, she called me an idiot and took away my food. The time I caused an accident with a Ford F-250, she told me it was because I was useless and convinced me that purging would make everything ok again. The time I wore mismatched socks for half a day without noticing, she told me it was because I was a fat slob and pushed laxatives down my throat…you get the picture. It did not matter what happened, ED was there with an arsenal of demoralizing names; never missing an opportunity to use one or eight of her favorites to hurt me.
Lately ED has been using every name she can think of to get me to return to her ways. This has, again, made me think about the names in my life. Chiefly, how do I know what is one of ED’s names for me versus a name given to me by someone who cares for me? What makes ED’s malicious nicknames different than the ones I call myself? Through a lot of trial and error, I have found that I take more responsibility for my recovery when I happen upon small, tangible reminders throughout the day that refocus my attention on healthful choices and recovery-oriented solutions. The question now becomes: how do I create that gentle reminder without calling myself demeaning names, while still teaching myself how differentiate between healthy names and ED’s names. And how can I turn that into a visual cue?
Answer: name badge stickers. Stick with me here for a minute. “The Princess Bride” has always been one of my favorite movies, and Inigo Montoya’s catchphrase of “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die” has always stuck in my mind. Every time I watch the movie, I imagine him writing that phrase on one of those sticker name badges and neatly affixing it to his tunic. What a way to introduce yourself, right? That is when I was inspired to make my gentle reminder in the form of a sticker name badge—ED’s names versus my names. Whenever I hear a name I question, I can refer to the sticker name badges to see if that is ED’s voice, someone else’s voice or my own voice using that name.
What are some of the names you feel ED calls you on a regular basis? What are some names you feel you should be called or names you want to be called? What makes ED’s names different than your names? And, what names serve better to aid you in your recovery?
I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit. Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.