What’s in a name?

brenda-lee.jpg My mother named me after country music legend Brenda Lee. This is the name on my original birth certificate, or so I’ve been told. I haven’t actually SEEN a copy of my original birth certificate. I was not familiar with Brenda Lee but I was obviously curious after finding out who I am named after so I did a little searching around. I listened to some of her songs in hopes of gettting to know both my mother and myself a little better.

Finding out your original given name is so strange. I know I won’t be able to do the feeling justice here but I will try. You go about your life developing a sense of identity from day one. Life experiences shape your personality but there are fundamental constants that remain with you, never changing. Your name is one of these things. When a woman marries she usually takes her husbands last name and even this takes some getting used to. However imagine if you will that as an adult, after living your whole life as one person, you discover there is someone else that is ALSO you. This entirely different identity that you left in a courtroom somewhere never to be heard from again. Then one day this forgotten identity is handed back to you and you think; WHO THE HELL IS THIS? You’re telling me this is who I am but this person is a stranger! How can you be a stranger to yourself? Good question.

I am Mia but I am also Brenda. The name Brenda doesn’t seem to fit at all. I tried it on while looking in the mirror, saying it over and over again. Trying to find some connection to this other person that I am. It didn’t work. Brenda Lee remained a stranger. Why wouldn’t she? I mean we are talking about a person that was left behind 39 years ago! Or was she? I struggled to find some connection, ANY connection with this revisited person who is me just as much as the person I am today.

I haven’t thought about the name Brenda Lee for a long time but yesterday I heard a song by her on the radio and it got me to pondering the meaning in a name once again. I googled and read some things about Brenda Lee in hopes that perhaps I would find some sort of understanding about my mother that had been previously missed. Some connection or bond that I might somehow stumble upon since she is not offering either.

Most of us have pasted song lyrics on our blogs. Songs are powerful and can speak to our souls on very deep levels. I often wonder if anyone even bothers reading the lyrics to the songs I post or if there may be even one person who is touched by the lyrics as much as I am. In this case though I think there may be people who will understand.

I don’t live these lyrics consciously because I am Mia but somewhere inside of me there is a completely different person who very MUCH lives them. Imagine the natural bond that occurred (that must still exist somewhere) between my mother and her child-me-Brenda. These lyrics spoke to Brenda, touched Brenda, and for a moment I remembered this person that I am but do not know. I mean they’re not profound lyrics or anything but just an honest depiction of how Brenda feels. I think perhaps there is a part of my mother who feels this too. A girl she left behind with Brenda but who is still there……..somewhere.

Alone Am I

by Brenda Lee

All alone am I
Ever since your goodbye
All alone with just a beat of my heart
People all around
But I don’t hear a sound
Just the lonely beating of my heart

No use in holding other hands
For I’d be holding only emptiness
No use in kissing other lips
For I’d be thinking just of your caress

All alone am I
Ever since your goodbye
All alone with just a beat of my heart
People all around
But I don’t hear a sound
Just the lonely beating of my heart

No other voice can say the words
My heart must hear to ever sing again
The words you used whisper low
No other love can ever bring again

All alone am I
Ever since your goodbye
All alone with just a beat of my heart
People all around
But I don’t hear a sound
Just the lonely beating of my heart

Then there was this song which also spoke to Brenda. Perhaps she is not stuck as an eternal child. Perhaps I have let her grow up along with Mia in some form. I suspect this song would also apply to how my mother felt when she was found, being forced to pay attention to the girl who relinquished her child. I think there is a girl with another name in herself that she left behind too.

Emotion

by Brenda Lee

Emotion
What are you doing
Oh’ don’t you know
Don’t you know you’ll be my ruin
You’ve got me crying, crying again
When will you let this heartache end

Emotion
You get me upset
Why make me remember
What I want to forget
I’ve been lonely, lonely too long
Emotions, please leave me alone

You worry my days, yes you torture my nights
Never a dream, those old dreams
Never turn out right
Emotion
Ah, give me a break
Let me forget that I made a mistake
Oh, can’t you see what you’re doing to me
Emotions, please set me free

You worry my days, yes you torture my nights
Never a dream, those dreams
Never turn out right
Emotion
Ah, give me a break
Oh let me forget that I made a mistake
Oh can’t you see what you’re doing to me
Emotions, please set me free

What’s in a name? For me it is someone I am still searching for. It is the name of a person who longs to know she was brought into this world by a mother who loves her and longs for her on some level. The name of a person who still, after all this time is searching for her mother. Brenda Lee for a moment I actually felt you! But unfortunately you still remain an intimate stranger. I hope we can get to know one another better because you and I are the same person. To get to know you is to get to know me.

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14 Comments

Filed under Adoptee Family

14 responses to “What’s in a name?

  1. MaeDay

    Ahh, Brenda Lee, been a long time since I’ve heard someone mention her. (liked her very much in my teen years)

    Every Christmas season I play her LP , ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’…1964 release. Just wouldn’t be Christmas without listening to that album.This season I’ll remember someone who was named for her, that will be a nice thought.

  2. I have that song on a Christmas tape and I love it too. Christmas is my favorite time of year.

    Thank you for the nice post Mae

  3. I got a copy of my original birth certificate this year. My name would have been Mary Ruth. Doesn’t feel right to me at all. It is such an odd feeling to finally get that information.

  4. Suz

    Ah, what good timing for this post. Just had this conversation with a friend. I will have to post about it.

    But I agree and understand (if even from the other side of the fence)

  5. It really is an odd feeling. I think we grow into our names and that they have a lot to do with our personalities. Names are important. Our birth names in a way represent a completely different person who would have led a completely different life. They are a part of us but it’s an unfamiliar part.
    Although, I have friends who have changed their adoptive names back to their original names but in all of these instances it was changing a very “western” sounding name back to a name from their country of origin.

  6. I knew you would relate to this post Suz. I actually thought of you (and others) while reading the lyrics to Emotions.

  7. suz

    yup. i related. even posted about it. thanks for the creative inspiration.

  8. I never felt right about the name my adoptive mother gave me. I don’t understand why it’s on my original birth cert. There is so much I’ll never understand now that both mothers are dead. I took things into my own hands and chose my own name. But it’s a very disconnected and lonely feeling I can’t explain. The two song lyrics by Brenda Lee are so fitting.
    “You get me upset
    Why make me remember
    What I want to forget”

    How can a natural mom shut off from herself and from her child? How can she choose denial over love? Do you have any answers?

  9. My name is a combination of the name I was born with and the name I was given after the abandonment.

    I was once engaged (didn’t work out) and me and the ex really got into it about me not wanting to take his name. No f’ing way was I going to lose my name again. Not ever going to happen.

  10. What a great post! My mother told me the name she put on my OBC, and the name doesn’t seem to be “me” at all.

  11. Ellen

    Out of all the information I got about my pre-adoptive family, the fact that I had a different name at birth flipped me out the most. Thank you for a very thoughtful post.

  12. Stephanie

    I was looking for some old song lyrics and came across your message. How great to have so many people to relate to! My birth certificate just read “Baby Casey”, and when I look at it all I can think is that I was the baby born with no name. I am glad to be a Stephanie (Steff), no other name would suit….and I am just glad my Dad didn’t name me Hezekiah as he had planned!

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