Recently, I was asked what my name was. I answered, "Andrei" someone asked if that was my birth name. Also recently, I made a meme post where it asked me to state my full name.
I've posted twice at length on the topic (Again links here and here) but I felt like I wanted to post two anecdotes. One is more about how this name change works within me an how I stay true to what I believe in. And secondarily... An example of the absolute pitfalls we go thru on trying to change our life and how we can be a slave to our own ego.
So, here is the extended information on my name.
In 1968 Dr. and Mrs Tapolow named their first child (a son) Greg Adam Tapolow.
I have to admit, I disliked the middle name. And it was all from the simplest reason in the world. Merciless teasing as a child in Hebrew school. I'm not even sure where the name originates. I guess it could be of my maternal grandmother's father Abraham. That's pretty much it. I didn't even suffer from the syndrome of the middle name was only used to signify your were in deep s*%t with your parents. Matter of fact, the first person to pull that was a girl named Beth that I dated when I was 23.
Now, since then I have when giving my name (except in places when asked to state my civil (or legal) name, I use G. 'Andrei' Tapolow. The origins of which are in the above mentioned links.
I bring this topic up today because I was IM'ing with fiannaharpar. I've known her for close to 15 years. At one point she used my civil name. a few lines later I made one of my famous, badly constructed sentences and then corrected myself by typing, "Gah.. english, Andrei... (corrected sentence here). Ironically, I think (with my flakey memory) that she may have been the first person to call me Andrei outside the arena where it was born and used as an alternative name. (SCA)
Which got me thinking. See my college roommate went thru a series of name changes and I never really accepted it then. I'd met him as one thing and even was there as he went thru name possibilities. (Changed for example) Tom Bill Lugori eventually became Ian Thomas Williams. (again, neither are his names, but I continue using them for illustration)
When he came to college it was always, "Call me Tommy, not Tom"... So when the change occurred I couldn't let go of Tommy. Even when he would show abject frustration at me not calling him Ian. So on the one hand, I think it's partially karma and partially respect for the strangeness of a name change that I don't get too flustered when people use the civil name that was handed to me. Hell, many people are horrible at remembering their female friend's married names. After I went thru my realization and change I came across Ian I told him that it made more sense to me. At that point I was using Andrew because I thought Andrei would be to confusing for people. Despite all the karma points I'd added up.. He called me Andrew immediately and smiled. He even was no longer frustrated when I'd slip up and call him Tommy. Because in understanding, the frustration... was now mine :)
But it wasn't her use of my given name that caught my eye. It was the fact that I actually put into practice something I'd been working on that went deeper. I'm going to quote my explanation from the conversation because fiannaharpar is just sort of nodding, so I don't think I'm betraying confidence by posting this without checking with her first.
ME: Did you ever watch "Batman Beyond" the futuristic Batman?
FI: A few times.
ME: There was an episode where they were trying to drive Bruce insane in an old age home. The voices in his head kept talking to him, "Bruce, you know you're crazy" "Bruce, maybe you should just end it all.."
FI: I vaguely remember this one.
ME: Everyone thought he was crazy because he kept talking about the voices he heard. At the end he convinced the kid that he wasn't crazy. The kid asked how Bruce knew the voices were fake. Bruce responded, "You think I call myself Bruce in my mind?"
FI: I like that :)
ME: I liked the episode... Because the truth of the matter to me was, As many people I tell that I'm Andrei. That I've put part of my life behind me and that removing the name is symbolic [of this]. Any time I think, "Come on G***, you know better." I'm lying. I'm lying to people and more importantly I'm lying to myself. Change comes from within, not without
So, I keep tabs of remembering that it's not just a name for me. It's a change in life, of who I am. It's remembering the Andrei and the boy given the name "G***" are separate beings with a shared history. I like to compare it to the character of Wesley on Angel with the character of Wesley on Buffy. You go thru enough and you're not the same person. You may be who you are because of who you were, but enough change... and you are someone else.
Now... this mental discipline doesn't come easy... And at times it is laughable. I try not to utter the name in reference to myself, I try not to think about it or acknowledge it when it is called. Thus my second anecdote.
A colleague of mine was trying to do a form of mental discipline. He was going to go a week trying to refer to himself in the third person. To omit the words "I" and "Me." This was done strictly for the purpose of mental discipline. Now, at the time... I have to admit.. it seemed utterly goofy to me. But then again, I had to deal with Ian for several years.
ME: Hi, Shawn. how are you doing today?
Sh: Shawn is doing well and he is glad to see you.
ME: Um... What is Shawn doing?
Sh: Oh, Shawn is talking about himself only in the third person for a week as an experiment.
ME: (pause)I see.... (longer pause) Well, good luck with that.
Sh: Shawn thanks you.
Now, I have to admit, in the case of my college roommate it was honest, inability to accept a change. In this case, it was an abject desire to screw with him.Partially, because the whole thing seemed so silly, partially because this guy was(is) very devoted to projects like this, and I knew it'd be a challenge to trip him up. Granted, it was also absolute ego that I knew him very well and I figured I could find his weakness.
I thought about it thru the 45 minute meeting we were in and I contemplated if this might be partially motivated by the pride that he could do it. Both of us went thru our Alpha-male ego thru intelligence phase... i figured I had the solution. After the meeting...
ME: Shawn, I've been contemplating this experiment and I have a question for you
Sh: Shawn is listening.
ME: Yeah... Um... How would Shawn, in this experiment, choose to express Descarte's fundamental truth?
(You could see the gears manually shifted to overdrive)
Sh: (Smiling Smugly) Shawn thinks therefor he is. Ha, thought you'd got me!
Sh: (short pause) SHIT!
And in this is what is important to me in this whole transition in my life. I can say that I'm Andrei all I want. I can tell as many people that's what the lay of the land is. But if it's not something inside... if it's not internally part of the whole process... It's not going to work.. At least to me.. it's not going to be 100% real. To quote a rather wonderful musical, I'd just be, "...going thru the motions"
It's easy to say... "I'd like to do X because I think I deserve to." It's another thing to say, "I'd like to be recognized for doing X because here's my track record." This is how I've begun to try to live my life. This is part of where the major system change or OS update is originating from. I think I've done a lot of software patches over the last few years. I think they've all been really good updates. But I think along the way I've finally found a way to actually start re-factoring from the inside... Making the inside understand what the outside wants and making the outside reflect what is really getting changed on the inside.
This is the pre-pre post.
EDIT: As earlier noted