A rose by any other name…

Kittie Phoenix is not my legal name. I’m sure anyone with even half a brain would realize that. So how did I come up with that name? Like any writer, I have a story to tell.

It started on Facebook. I had joined before meeting the man who would rock my world and love me gently into becoming his wife. I went by my legal name. Scores of people were sending friend requests. I would graciously accept. Then I met my hubby, and we married.

Part of the pre-marriage agreement was I would legally hyphenate to include his name and socially just use his name. I updated my Facebook name to the hyphenated version. I got a few fewer friend requests, but all was still right with the electronic gin joint of Facebook.

You meet all kinds of people on Facebook. One of the people I met was from Germany. She’s got the most awesome green eyes (I think), and the fairies loved her as a child because the pixie dust of freckles is all over her cheeks. Sadly, she went through a really rough time. A friend of hers (not mutual) gave her an unusual name in a foreign tongue that embodied all my German friend could be. As a lover of language, I was mesmerized, intrigued, and veritably sucked in.

I started to think about Native Americans. They have a test they face in their teenage years to prove they are ready for all the responsibilities of adulthood. At the end, if successful, they take a new name that reflects who they are and who they will become. So rather than wait for someone to give me a new name, I picked one.

Kittie Phoenix—  Adventure, excitement, with a hint of playfulness… Unique…

So at the beginning, it was just meant to signal to the universe that I was finally on the road to becoming who I was meant to be, I was finally accepting my own skin and getting comfortable in it. In essence, I would no longer pretend to be something I wasn’t; the grand charade was over.

Kittie had two meanings. One related to how cats act. They come and go as they please. They choose whether to express and accept affection. They are bold in expressing displeasure. The only thing they answer to is their internal computer telling them what needs they were created to have. Kittie was also a private joke with my husband. *blushing and not going there, wouldn’t be prudent*

Phoenix had to do with the mythological being. Just as my choices earlier in my life had left me in a ridiculous pile of rubble that seemed endless, my choices within the past few years had fueled a rise from ashes that I pray lands me far better off than I ever was before.

Over time, I found I rather enjoyed using the new name. It confused everyone who had ever had a set image of me in their heads and never thought I would change. I don’t like mind games, but it is nice to challenge the status quo once in a while. People started connecting to me for me not for who was connected to me by genes or society. I got more ideas than I ever could have imagined. My friend requests went down; I started exercising more control over my Facebook image.

So when my friend in Germany went back to her name, I chose to keep mine. And as time went on, the connections became even more meaningful. I got fewer uninvited friend requests, and I was freer to choose who I wanted to follow because the choices were somewhat more limited. I read about lives that were so devastating compared to mine. I could hear, in people’s own words, the uncertainty, pain, and fear that they lived with day in and day out. Although they only had words and some of those words were the hardened rocks of real life and the school of hard knocks, they powerfully used those words to get help and give help through simple support. And I found that I could share their joys and pains, even if by just saying, “I don’t know, but I can listen.”

In effect, each Facebook connection involved voices–giving a voice to those who have none or who don’t know how to use what they’ve got and hearing the voices of those teetering on the edge of a slippery-sloped precipice trying to give a primal scream to tell the world it needs to stop for them to catch their breath.

So, I apologize to the fellow blogger who already took the name “Kittie Phoenix.” I didn’t want to steal your identity when I was on Facebook, and I don’t think I did. I just chose to be a different flower in the garden of life, and I am still a flower, just calling myself by a different name.

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