Updated: May 31
The relationship you have with your name can hide some kind of trauma
At the beginning of this year, I decided I wanted to do something about my interest in analytical psychology.
All the paths were very long, but if you think about it, what learning doesn't take time?
I think my English students' illness has been passed down to me. Are we all too impatient to learn what we are passionate about or are we too impatient because we are not really that interested? I guess this could be an analysis for another day.
During my search, I came across a very interesting programme taught by the Centre of Applied Jungian Studies (CAJS) and fell in love with it almost straight away. In this online two-year certified course, students become familiarised with the theory behind Jungian psychology, but also how it can be applied.
This is a perfect match for me, as I am trying to make sense of the psychology behind Gothic texts and horror productions to help my followers enjoy more what they read and watch while at the same time understanding their own unconscious mind.
The only person I have seen walking this path is Matthew Brenan, professor of English at Indiana State University, who wrote the book The Gothic Psyche: Disintegration and Growth in Nineteenth-Century English Literature, which I have only managed to access parts of.
So here I am attending this course every month, where beginners and experts alike meet in a secure and respectful place.
At the end of the first module The Unconscious we were given two exercises to do during the month, one of which was to think about our relationship with our name.
And this is what I want to talk about in today's entry. I want to tell you about the importance of embracing the story behind your name and help you figure out how much of your relationship with it has made you who you are today, and why I consider this so Gothic.
Are you ready? Let's begin.
HOW YOUR FIRST MEMORIES IMPACT YOU
Working with one of my students recently we discovered wonderful information behind the story of her name that she had not thought about before. Learning more about it has helped her move forwards with the book she is writing, and we did all that by using the Jungian breadcrumbs.
I cannot tell you her story but I can tell you mine, so you too can turn the negative memories connected with your name into positive outputs.
As a child, I had a book that made me feel pretty anxious just by looking at the pictures. It was Alice in Wonderland.
In my child's mind, I thought that the book represented me because I shared names with the main character, but that land of wonders was more like the land of nonsensical nightmares I couldn’t decipher. I found it histrionic.
Was I maybe picking on the writer’s brain, a Victorian man who liked to take photographs of little girls in not many clothes in the era of moral and physical corseting? I will never know, but one of my favourite pastimes nowadays is reviewing books through the psychoanalytical lens.
Since I didn’t like the story, I started disliking my name. This worsened when after answering the question of the name, the kids in the playground always replied:
– oh, “¿En el país de las maravillas?” (in Wonderland?).
I disliked that Alice didn't have a mum and disliked the characters in the story, beginning with the hare that makes Alice fall into the famous hole and never answer her questions. I found him particularly rude and stressful.
The suffocating size change, the stoned giant maggot talking in riddles and then a queen of hearts also made me really anxious.
All this explains why eventually I replied to an innocent child the feared "What's your name?" question with an “It’s none of your business.”
That day I rejected my name, and for many years I decided to ignore that the Alice in Wonderland story even existed.
Thankfully, my adult me can appreciate the dark riddles and understand that the story is the product of Victorian times and Victorian times were very prolific in Gothic productions.
Many years later, someone bought me a new version of the book as a Christmas present. I was so angry inside. In my head, I thought this person should have known better. I believed that getting me that book meant she didn't really know me as I thought she should. But that was in fact my problem.
That horrible moment when Alice falls down the rabbit hole
EMBRACING THE SHADOW AND BUILDING A BRAND WITH IT
Things were about to change when during my degree in English Philology, I was introduced to Gothic literature. I automatically fell in love with the genre and my writing persona started to find its voice. All my childhood fascination for scary films and stories started to make sense too.
The more I read the more I had clear where I wanted to go. But learning more about “the Gothic” was a forbidden love affair for me. I couldn’t carry on with it because of the lack of choices that universities offered at the time and as a mature student, I couldn’t go back to a country where I could enrol in Gothic Studies. The online option wasn’t even contemplated back in 2005.
However, that didn't stop me from investigating on my own account. I became an independent scholar without realising it, not without the full support of my sister, who encouraged me to pursue the Gothic dream. "If something is not there you can build it", she said.
Although I put my heart in a wooden box and keep the key in a safe place until better times, I have been building my brand ever since, even parallel to running my own language school with my husband in a small town on the outskirts of Barcelona.
Sadly It was when my husband had an Ictus that I went back to Gothic Land. His near-death experience brought anguish to our lives and the monsters of my mind freed the Gothic heart locked in the box.
I was scared, I was worried, the world was crumbling all around us and the only thing I could control was to write, build and hide in the Gothic world I had been constructing all along.
That’s how I started writing stories of fear and ghostly experiences mixed with the investigator’s need for bringing back ancient folklore. It all started moulding this new persona that was going to be “Alice in Gothic Land”.
One day, while working on why I hated the story of Alice so much, I came across an article on Lewis Carroll and his story. This finding brought light to that old childhood feeling and made me understand the source of my original rejection. I had finally embraced my destiny.
Suddenly it was all clear to me: every ancient tantrum and disappointment that my name had brought into my life had had a purpose all along. It was all meant to be. It is Alice’s seeds from the Wonderland story which set the path I had to follow to free my Gothic self.
And just like that, I started accepting and embracing my (not so liked) mentor. Like Alice, I followed the synchronicities and asked all the questions that lead to deciphering my unconscious mind, and that started to shape my new identity.
HOW TO START WORKING WITH YOUR NAME
The first thing I recommend you do if you want to start connecting more with yourself is to think of what gets triggered in your head when you hear your name.
Is it the story of who decided to call you that way and not another? What do you see when you hear your name? Is there a character or another person that comes to mind when you hear or read your name? Does it bother you how people pronounce it?
These are some of the questions you can ask yourself to reflect on your identity. What anguishes this exercise makes you aware of is a good start if you are on a journey of self-recognition where you feel you need to shine light into your shadows.
Don't fear what you might find: awareness is good to do something about what makes you uncomfortable.
Cas in Supernatural feeling awkward one of the first times he has to lie about his identity
In this entry, I have explained how our relationship with our names can take us on a life journey of self-recognition.
How you feel about your name and how others perceive you through it can make you take different paths depending on how you connect with everything that has to do with your name.
I have also told you the story behind my brand name and why listening to all the messages has taken me, for better or for worse, to where I am today.
And finally, I encourage you to take action. Get that notepad out and start feeling your name.
What are your thoughts? Have you ever wondered about how much influence your name has had on you? Let me know in the comments.
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As an independent scholar and researcher, your support is crucial to help people like me to make the world a better place by creating awareness.
When you become more connected with yourself you will connect better with others and will lead a happier life.
Until next week, stay Gothic my friend!
Thanks for reading,