Send Your Replies to Jenn


Dear Jenn,

I never really felt like my name was my real name. "We" all answered to it, but didn't like it. But in my head, whoever was out just thought of themselves as their name and not our given name. At times, different personalities would get frustrated by people calling them the given name. Normally though, to keep people from knowing about them, they just responded to the given name, and kept quiet. However, I spent one year, willingly, at a mental health group home, to go through intensive therapy, to get extra help. There, things changed a little:) One day one of the male personalities asked to talk to a staff person. A nice female staffer said she'd talk to them. And the personality said, "I ain't talking to no woman." Another time, one staffer kept calling a personality by their given name. That personality had reached their limit with that name, and kept refusing to respond to the staffer. It can be a challenge, but you'll get it figured out.

Debbie E.



Dear Jenn,

I have also felt disconnected from my given name. My parents often used two different nicknames for me, and some of my friends gave me a third nickname. I use a pen-name for all of my internet correspondence, as well as for any writing that I have published. Those inside call me by yet another nickname. I think the fact that I am an alter, just like them, explains all of that. Everyone responds to the body's name, but it never felt quite right personally, because it wasn't "my" name, if that makes sense.



Dear Jenn,

Interesting question. I only have one "outside" name that I answer to...with rare exceptions (diminuitives). But there are many different inside names, and when a particular part of myself does writing or even talks inside my head, distinctive names are used. Sometimes in writing to people who know about my dissociation--like here--I change the name I sign to reflect the specific part of myself that is composing it. But when it's a group composition (typical), then there's an internal debate about whose name goes on the piece.

I've read that some people change their given names to reflect the fact that they have healed or changed from the abuse. I don't choose to do that because I'm proud that I've made it this far and don't want my "insiders" to feel they were not all part of the process.

However, though I'm divorced, I still use my exhusband's name. I don't want to go by my birth name, because that reminds me of my abusers.

I don't know if this answers your question. But it's the best I can do. What is that old joke ? "Call me anything, just don't call me late for supper!"