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Names Can Hurt (022) Transcript

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<voices overlapping, music in background>
Oh! Good morning — oh! Do we have to get up?
Keep it down; I’m trying to sleep.
Yeah, we want to make that recording.
What are we going to record today?
What? What recording?
You know, the one about multiplicity.
You know, the usual — we’re trying to make a difference in the world or something.
Oh, yeah.
Well — I just really wanna help people!
I have no idea what to say.
I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there who have really good questions, and need really good answers.
Why talk to them? It’s not like anybody gives a shit.
Well what makes us an authority?
I don’t really think it matters how long we’ve been multiple, or how long we’ve known we’re multiple — we’re multiple!
<Aliessa laughs richly>

Names Can Hurt. Everybody, this is Buck, and I wanted to do an episode on the power of names. There's a litany against name-calling that's very popular with children: sticks, and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me, or some variation thereof. And I just wanted to point out, it is kind of a litany. What a litany is in spiritual or magical terms. It's a kind of a charm. So really, the implication is that the names do hurt, and somebody's trying to invoke a charm against getting hurt by being called names. So what the implication is, really is that names do have power to hurt us. And if we look through literature, we look through time and we look through our own feelings, we know this is true. So one of the things I want to point out is the power of names within a multiple or plural system. And why we should be very careful not to be calling people names. If names didn't have power, we wouldn't need a litany against it. We wouldn't need to be reminded that names shouldn't have power, or that we can take our power back from names. Calling people names is like a time-honored tradition of hurting people. Why would people do it if it didn't actually hurt? And it's not funny to call people names. Calling yourself names, maybe, but that's kind of self-deferential humor. But calling people by anything other than what they want to be called, or maybe some variations on the name they were given, but usually if they choose it, they choose the variation, not you. Calling people by names is a form of taking back power and control from a person, taking their autonomy away. You're relabeling them. And in current culture, we have concepts like deadnaming and misgendering and so on. So we we have a lot of words that are considered non-PC, and the people who complain about curtailing our language, who think that being so PC is ridiculous, are actually probably the types of bullies who would be calling people names in the schoolyard anyway.

So there's some spiritual and magical implications with the use of names. We have some background in neopagan arts, in shamanic work. We also studied witchcraft and we took, we even took a history class on witchcraft - on witchcraft, on the witch hunts. So it's kind of important to look at cultural reference to name power, so that we can really realize why this is so important. So calling somebody in your system by any name other than when they've chosen is something that should be done with respect, and not done off the cuff or arbitrarily. It should be done in a way that you're at least trying to be empathic and caring about them. You know, if they're unable to give you a name, if they're unable to choose a name at the moment, to give them a name that's respectful, not one that's harmful. So some ways that that we find name power and control throughout history and things is sometimes there are cultural references to having a thing's name actually giving you power over it or control over it. We have things like Rumpelstiltskin, for example we have a, an actual myth where part of it is 'if you know my name, you have power over me'. So it's kind of a an ongoing theme in the fairy and elven world that names have power back in the old myths. When you knew the name of something, you had some level of power and control over it. You see that in repetitions of the name as well. So often, to have that power and control, it's not just saying the name once. Often it's threes. Threes are a magical number. So you say the name three times and now you have power and control over it. Plus, there's another interesting nuance in terms of, I guess it's bordering on the shamanic arts. All things have spirit. All objects -manmade, nature made - everything has spirit. And I guess perhaps a modern equivalent of the shamanic spirit is, everything has energy. Everything consists of energy - the bonds that hold the atoms together, the atomic particles, it's all energy. So all matter is really energy when you boil it all down, right? This is a scientific concept. So shamanism actually recognizes that the air has spirit, the water has spirit, a glass has spirit, a drum has spirit, a rock has spirit, a bird has spirit, a computer has spirit. Everything has spirit, when you name - and by this, I mean, tap into yourself and listen for a thing's name, not just give it an arbitrary name. But when you name a thing, when you listen for it, and you find its name, in a, let's say, an intuitive way. I was gonna say a spiritual way, but in an intuitive way. If you name your car, if you name your computer, when you get that name, when that comes up and boils up in you and you produce its name, you're actually conveying to that thing a little more spirit. In terms of the energy in it, you're kind of helping it coalesce, or aligning its energy in a certain way with the name. So naming a thing, naming an object, giving it voice when it has none, actually gives it a little bit more spirit. Another thing that we find, that runs through our myths that runs through our stories, and that happens in our system, is when we change the name of a thing or a person, it also changes the thing that it names. So this is an important concept with, let's say, dead naming. When a person who is transitioning, or a person who is trans in any way, chooses a new name for themselves, they're taking power back. They're taking a part of their identity back from those who have named them. And possibly mis-named them, you know, or given them a name that's, let's say, culturally inappropriate because a name in and of itself is not gendered. I name is a word. I know we have words with gender in certain languages, but I'm just saying the name itself, really, it's just sounds and the sounds have no gender. But when we change the name of a person, and when the people around them respect that name change and use it, it changes the person that names. If if we have a car, and let's say, you know, it gets a whole new engine, and now the name doesn't fit anymore, we can feel it, we can feel a change. Or your computer gets a new motherboard. It's not really the same computer anymore. So maybe you change the name of your computer.

So changing the nameeither can be sourced in the change of the thing itself, or can actually institute a change within the thing. Now we're gonna get into a little bit of ageism here - diminutive forms of names. So I have a story. I go to many networking events, or I used to, anyway. Used to go to a lot of networking events in the business community. And one couple was running luncheons. Really the wife was running the luncheons, but this couple was running luncheons. And the man's name is Joe. That's the name, the form of Joseph that he chose and preferred was Joe. And obviously, my chosen preferred name is Criss. We stepped out of the luncheon to get coats, was on the way out or putting coats away or, you know, like, either taking them on or putting them off. It doesn't matter, it was so long ago. And Joe is standing like two, three feet away from us and says, "How are things going Crissy?" And we were just like, say what? So we looked at him and we said, "Things are going okay, Joey." And he said, "Point taken." We immediately proved to somebody that they just diminutized us. They just disrespected our choice of our form of name, and disempowered us, or attempted to disempower us, by making us young and little and small and cute and girly. So we immediately basically cut him off at the knees to. [Laugh]. We lowered him by a couple of feet by calling him Joey. Diminutized forms of names can be a cultural norm, but also, they do underscore the disempowerment of children. Not saying we shouldn't do it, I don't know, I'm not going to judge it. But I am going to point out that, that really when we use a diminutive form of a name, it's really disempowering. In fact, even the word demean has, you know, to diminutize people, to diminish to make smaller, in and of itself. Just the diminutive form of a name is already pointing out that we're robbing them in some way, that we're making them smaller and less powerful than they were. So diminutive names can be disempowering. Now we may have littles in our system who prefer a diminutive name, they've chosen it. And that's different than just naming them with a diminutive. Somebody chooses a diminutive, they think it's cute and they want to own cute, and that's fine. But when we apply it to people, we cute-ise them, we make them less powerful, that's not fine. So there's, there's the fine line between respecting someone's choice and robbing them of their power. So we need to be very careful about how we name people.

Nicknames, the nicknames that come with names - let's say Richard. Richard, such a great example. There's so many different forms of Richard. So if we choose to call a man Rich, then there's that implication that that little tiny tickle in the back of the head that ties Rich with the word rich, and there may be some people who don't want that tie. So they may not choose Rch as the shortened form or the nickname form of Richard. They may instead choose say, Rick, instead of Rich. And then there's also the other form of Richard which is Dick. Which, in today's culture, I mean, it's difficult for somebody to even get a phone to properly put the word—keeps trying to find another word, because there may be people who choose Dick as the nickname form of Richard for various reasons. Could be historical, maybe that was their grandfather's choice of nickname. It could also be because of that veiled power behind the name, where Rich may have other con—connotations, maybe Dick has others. So there's these choices of nicknames that can influence the—both the person's mindset how they hold themselves, but also how other people relate with them. We have this subtle connotations that run underneath these names, based on other words in our language, and, and the meaning behind those words too. So nicknames can bring their own connotation. And also, choosing amongst many nicknames - having a very flexible name like Christina, which has so many different forms of nickname - is kind of crazy. We played with so many of them when we were child—children trying to find one that would fit. And we didn't want Chris because that was what our parental units called us. So the—we wanted something kind of towards the gender neutral, which Chris is, but we struggled with it because we were called that for years by our parental units. And it wasn't until our friend misspelled our name, or chose a different spelling for our name, that we had our V8 moment and said, "Oh, that's it. That's perfect." And, you know, so it's C R I S S, instead of C H R I S. And believe it or not, we still insist to this day that we can tell when somebody is pronouncing it with or without the H. So there is a subtle difference in how people say it, we think, when there's no H in there. So when people acknowledge the lack of H, it sounds better to us. So there's a personal choice and a power that we took back from our parents by owning the phonetic Chris, that's with H. By owning it and changing it to Criss without the H. We took back our power from our parents by changing our name, and insisting on it being spelled differently and, and regarded differently by people. And by making it a gender neutral name we made many of the people in our head much more comfortable. We had played with so many diminutive forms, Chrissy and all different kinds of spellings of Chrissy and Christine. And we didn't go to Tina because that was another abuse problem. That was in our godparent's family called us Tina and they were the sexual abusers. Or the ones we remember being sexual abusers - we'll talk about that another time. So in short, really, when it comes down to it, just like in a schoolyard, name-calling is bullying. There's just no two ways about it. Name calling, giving people names, is bullying in some way. When when Joe called me Chrissy, he didn't realize it. I'm not saying he meant it. But on some level, he was robbing my power from me, and that's bullying. He was making me smaller than I am and taking something away from me. And it's a power and control grab. So when I turned around and called him Joey, he felt it immediately. And that's where it, it becomes obvious. Okay, you may not notice it when you do it to someone else. But if somebody does it to you, you know, right away, "Whoa, hey, wait a minute."

Okay, so I want to to finish this point on the bullying. So name-calling is bullying and it really hurts people. It ostracizes them, it isolates them. Sometimes the choice of words actually scapegoat them and and assign blame to them for things they didn't do. Or didn't mean to do. But it labels them. It's The Scarlet Letter. Okay, the A for adultery. They got pin on to the woman in The Scarlet Letter. So it's a scarlet letter, it marks them. It makes them stand out and apart. And it can actually directly cause them harm, to be mislabeled, misaligned, named. There is actually power to names, and the litany against being called names is a litany because it's trying to invoke a change in that power dynamic. It's trying to kind of work like a magical shield against that robbery. It's trying to protect someone from. It is actually a charm. It's a, it's a magical attempt to protect yourself. We may have lost that in history, but it really is still there. It's interesting when people name themselves. There's a point in a child's development, when, when a child is called by a diminutive. There's usually a point somewhere, probably between the stages of 8 and 13. Probably somewhere in the middle more often, but somewhere in there, or so, that a child actually turns around to the adults in their life and demands their name back. They actually will find a more adult nickname, or their actual given name, or maybe another name if they're trans or just not happy with their name. But they find another name they can own. They, they actually refuse the diminutive and turn around and say, "I'm not Joey anymore, I'm Joe." Or "Call me Joseph. I want to be Joseph from now on." That's a big turning point for a child. It's a self-advocacy moment. And it should be respected. Now, you know, people slip up. And, you know, once you're used to calling somebody a name for however many years, 8-13 years, it's not easy to change their name overnight. And people do slip up, but it deserves an apology and a correction when people slip up, it's not acceptable to slip up. It's just hard to break a habit, it's not something somebody should do on purpose to misnamed people, or deadname them.

So this translates over to plural systems in, of course, where we name people who are not fully in the here and now. We have a entity, we have an energy, we have a set of traits or identity, that resides somewhere in our plural system. And we, we need to talk about it, and maybe even talk to it, address it in some way. But we don't have a name for it or a label for it. So sometimes we dig in our bag of tricks, and we pull out a label and we stick it on this energy or this entity. And it's not always the most kind of names. So actually, I think I was assigned really, more than I don't think I actually said my name is Hed when I first appeared. I think I was assigned the name. But it was assigned as a name and not a label, which is good. It was, it was a name with a reason and some thought behind it, which is good. And it, it was name, like it's not spelled H E A D it's spelled H E D. It went along with the label for my twin sister, which was Hart. H A R T, not H E A R T. Hart was named after a deer. And we've kind of kept the deer thing in the family since then. Hed was not particularly, that was a play on head and heart, because I was guarding mental, mental and verbal abuse. And Hart was protecting our emotions. So it was a play on head and heart, but it was names. It wasn't labels, per se. It was names and I didn't mind. And as far as I can tell, I didn't mind. As I aged up I changed my name. When I reached 13 I was Rane, R A N E, which is a play on reindeer back to the deer theme. And now Hart has aged up to about 14 or so and is Faun. Again another dear name, F A U N. A weird spelling of it, but Faun. And then I aged up before she aged up. I aged up again to 24 and chose Buck. I chose a more masculine—we joke around if I age up again it's going to be Stag, right. But I chose him more masculine and, and I guess mature name for myself when I aged up again. So for me, I feel like changing my name is a celebration of having jumped up another 10 years. And for Hart, she got a little jealous that I kept aging up. And so she aged up to 14. So she's, she's my twin sister, sso she's kind of lagging behind, but she's like 14 years old, and now she's Faun.

So we take names pretty seriously in here. And we've screwed up names before. So let me give you an example of a bad choice. A couple of bad choices I can give. So the first not-so-good choice that we made in naming each other was a non co-consciousness suicidal person in here who we call the suicidal one. She was about 8 years old when we discovered her, ish. She started—as she was becoming co-consciousness, she started eating up also. So she made it to somewhere in the teens by the time she was fully co-consciousness. But we named her the suicidal one, we call her TSO for short. Because we don't even like saying the name. See that's, that's where we even recognize on some level that this name was a problem. So we didn't even call her what we had called her. You know, we named her the suicidal one, then we call her TSO. So it's already like a huge sign that there was a problem with this name. So as soon as she became co-consciousness, we're like, "Please take another name." So she chose Hawthorne. So Hawthorne, was once TSO, and we really didn't even like the name that we had given her and we felt bad about it. And then we realized at some point, I think around then, okay - and I'll talk about the other name, which is concurrent with this problem. But we realized almost as soon as we used it, that this was a problem name. That it wasn't encouraging Hawthorne to change her nature in any way, it was just like a constant reminder of the negativity of her past. It was, it was a ball and chain, it was awful to give her this name that held her back. Or at least that's how we thought of it. It'ss, this name is not—it's not bringing out anything good in this person. It's not even encouraging in a neutral way to just have a name, but it's actually discouraging. It's a negative name. Just bad, bad bad bad. So the other name that was a problem. The same time - I mean, we, we had we had me and at the time I was Hed, my sister was Hart. We had TSO, Eve and Ice. So Ice was another problem name. Ice would curl up in a ball and become non-responsive, and so it was the freeze reaction from the F words - fight, flight, freeze, etc. So she had a very demonstrable freeze reaction and was kind of stuck in time and space. And so we we named her Ice and she stuck with Ice. She didn't like it really very much. We didn't like it very much. We couldn't think of another name. And she was—trying to remember. I think she became co-conscious around the same time Hawthorne did. Like not not by very much of a difference. I can't remember which is first, which came first. So Hawthorne, Eve and Ice which they would blend sometimes and form Heidi. HEI, Hawthorne Eve and Ice. So one of the problems over the years was trying to find another name for Ice. We even have a frank comment about Ice getting an application from Almerissa for a name change at Almerissa's desk in the back of our head. So it's kind of like an in-joke that Ice has been looking for a name for such a long time. And it's still took years, even after the comic for her to actually choose another name. And she finally decided to take the name Isabel so now she's Isabeau which starts with an I, so we can still keep the Heidi idea. Not that we could, you know, if you had a different name, we could still keep Heidi. But, but she wanted an I name, I guess. Like, you know, it's like "You guys got the I, right, but the rest of the names gotta go." So it's, it's now Hawthorne, Even and Isabeau. And we're still a little new to that change and have to remind ourselves that it's Isabeau now.

Those are two great examples of named changes in our system that were positive, that really helped. It helped people in our system solidify who they were. Because when you give a name, sometimes there's some connotations to a name. When you give or take a name, when when somebody gives you a name, or you have taken your own. It's a name, it doesn't have meaning to it. When you label somebody—the suicidal one was not a name. That's a label. So we have another example of a label that—actually, two more examples of labels that became names. Because we chose to make them names, not labels. You know, and I'll show you how we did it. Similar to Hed not being spelled H E A D , and being H E D. We made it a name. Even though it derived from—sorry, moving here. Even though it derived from a word, we made it into a name. And you have to be careful about the original word and make sure that the word itself is not offensive. Or change it enough that it's not offensive anymore. So we had Shane. We had this child in our head who sat in a box in the back of our head in the dark. The box was black, had words on it. Or maybe it was dark gray and had words on it, doesn't matter. We could see the words on it, "No, no, no go away." This kid's in the box, the lid, you know, if you get too close, the kid would like duck into the box and pull the lid on. There were stuffies inside of the box with the kid. Couldn't really make out the stuffies, but there was like shadowy stuffies in the box. We needed a name for this kid and we realized the deep shame coming from this kid in the box. You know, leaking in the system. And so we have this kid who's full of shame. And you know, the first temptation is to label the kid Shame. But that's crappy. That's a crappy name. It's not a name, right? We have the foresight to change shame, to Shane, which is in real name in the world. It's far enough off of shame, the feeling that it's not labeling. It's a name. Shane is a name. And it's a nice gender neutral name. We're still not 100% positive whether Shane is a girl or a boy. Doesn't matter to us. But you know, Shane, one day hopefully will let us know, let us in on it. But for now, Shane has a nice gender neutral name. That's an ordinary name out in the world. You can look it up in a name dictionary and look up what it means and whatever. And it's working. You know, until Shane can say "Hey, I like another different name. Let's change it.", that works. The other one is a more recent one. We realized when we were a kid, there was somebody in our head who was pilfering objects from our parents. And we realized why and it's a whole big story to it. But basically, this kid was looking for a magical key to open a portal to another world. This kid was absolutely desperate to get back home. Maybe they're not even a kid,we're not even sure. Somebody in here was absolutely desperate to find a, a key or a portkey. Something, something to unlock a portal to another world. So they would go open up our mom's jewelry chests and look through things and look through the drawers and look for any objects that look like they were out of place. Or had a special feeling to them or looked familiar, anything. Okay? And would borrow these objects for a few days, trying to figure out how to use them. Like, you know, how do I trigger this thing? Where do I put it? You know, is there a place to put it? Is there a box hiding in my room somewhere? I gotta put the key in the box. You know, if I take it with me into the closet, will Narnia be in there? Anything. This kid was looking for a portal home, like, desperately? So when we realized, oh shit, you know, that was another person. We didn't own what was happening. We were watching our body go through all this stuff. We still haven't figured out who, if they're one of the co—co-consciousness cohort, who was it that did all that stuff. We don't think so, we think it's someone else and they're hiding somewhere. We haven't seen any signs of them other than this occasional mysterious Spanish-speaking person, who we're not sure if that's the same person, but we gave them a name. So you know, you have somebody who, I mean, the intention was never to be a thief. The intention was not to steal things, the, the thought behind what was going on was that these parental units had trapped us here, and there, there must have been something to get us here. We were from another world as far as this person was concerned, we were from another world. And we had ended up here, and they must have the key to get back home. There must be a way. So they must have this thing that technically belong to us. So it was a matter of figuring out which object in the house and where they had hidden this key, this thing that would get us home. That was, that was this person's thought. So we named them Magpie. Because magpies like shiny objects, the bird likes shiny objects. And it just was a name that we said, okay, there we go. You know, this, this bird likes to collect shiny objects. It's trying to steal the, it's just "Wow, that thing is so shiny, it must be mine." So, so that was kind of the thought behind it, was like, hey, you know, this person's kind of like a magpie. They go through things and go that that thing there, that could be it, and borrow it for however long. Not intending to steal it or keep it just trying to figure out how it worked and is this really the thing? And if not, would put it back. You know, like after a few days, it would go back, if it was like, "Nope, that's not it. Gotta go find something else." So, for short, we call—well, this—in light of this episode, this is a diminutive, we call her Maggie, which is more name like then Magpie. So sometimes we call her Maggie. But we still haven't even found her. And we don't even know if she's really a her. Although, yes, Maggie could work for a guy to. Like, names don't really have gender, like I said, So Magpie could be a guy, it doesn't matter. We get the sense that Magpie was a girl, but who the heck knows. So that's this all the names that we've had issues with over the years, where you've heard people in the community with some pretty, we think, awful names. Names, we would never want to be pinned with names that are definitely labels. The angry one, you know, the evil guy. These are not names. And they're not respectful. And if you want to have a good relationship with the people in your system, if you want—you and your headmate want to have a good time together in this life, we strongly urge you to consider a renaming ceremony, or just change their name. You can make a big deal out of it, you can make no deal out of it. But like say to them, "Hey, you know, would you like a different name?" And if you're giving them a rude name, and they don't have enough co-consciousness to complain about it and demand a different name, then give them a different name anyway. Find them in different names. The angry guy could be Angelo. I mean, you know, it starts with an A, kinda like angry, but it's a real name. You know, like, give them a real frickin name. Because you're not going to get to co-consciousness if you keep hurting someone. They're not going to be able to come forward as long as you're pushing them away. They're not going to be able to come forward as long as you're triggering panic, if you're bullying them. So, you know, change their name, fix it. And this is Buck, and I've rambled long enough.

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