My proper name is Margaret. Yup, another Margaret Mary… Most folks think I must have been named after a nun at my Mom’s catholic school except my Mom hated Catholic school and I was named after her sister who was the maternity nurse who helped deliver me… Aunt Margie, that is. As such, my nickname was also Margie. I was a chunky child, a chunky teen and, unfortunately, now I’m a chunky adult. I have struggled with my weight my entire life though there have been “normal” weight spurts and even a 10-year stint where I can say I was actually thin! However, going back to my childhood, weight issues and a name like Margie earned me a mean and taunting nickname… “Large Marge”. I always hated my name for this reason… And because it’s very old fashioned, in my mind… I always felt like the maid in that old black and white television show called “Hazel”. You know the one I’m talking about?
In chatting with my oldest sister, Cathy, during her recent, much appreciated and way-too-short visit from Boston, she told me that her friend had adopted an abused dog and the veterinarian said, “the first thing you should do is change the dog’s name”. Now, my husband and I have rescued a number of animals and never changed a name. We always thought that changing the name of an animal that already knew it’s name would be sorta cruel. Like suddenly calling my daughter Olivia, “Mary”??? It just didn’t feel right. I mean, clearly, “Queenie” already knows her name.
Psychology 101! Right? I not only took Psych 101 but I earned my bachelor’s degree in Psychology. So, why hadn’t I thought of that?
We immediately voted on a new name for the new life our dog was about to embark on (pun intended)…. Molly! And, it suits her perfectly! (Honestly, we didn’t like the name “Queenie” anyway. Too trite.) I have to admit, her name change has made all the difference! She is never reminded of the abuse she suffered and, as such, Molly has not flinched once when we bend to pet her, obeys when she’s told what to do — or not to do (except that peeing thing) — and happily greets me at the door when I arrive home. She’s a new and different — AND VERY HAPPY — dog!
Just like me when I realized I didn’t have to be “Large Marge” anymore!
So, what’s in a name, you ask? Good names, good people, good associations, positive associations — like new ones that we’re amenable to as opposed to those old ones that make us flinch in mental or physical pain — boost our sense of safety and, therefore, our self esteem. They help us relegate past hurts to the past where they belong. Dumping negative associations whenever possible can help us make a fresh start. That’s a wonderful opportunity for man and beast. I should know….
I am forever MAGGIE… and her new dog, Molly!