Today, Day 27, is a dialogue about medicinal names, trauma recovery, and family.
I was asked again recently what name I prefer to be called.
I noticed, this time, that the answer I want to give has changed from what it was in the past. But it’s taken me some extended process to determine how to verbalize it.
To all who wonder: You are welcome to call me Max, Mack, MEM, Megan, Elizabeth, Mo, Morris, or another name you may know me by — as you feel inclined.
It is nourishing for me to be called more than one name by people I engage with… a fuller sense of relationship and coming to know complex aspects of one another, for me… although I don’t mind at all if someone needs to pick just one.
Medicinal naming is a creative fluency of mine.
I began to use the name Max, from my paternal grandfather’s childhood name, after being very severely neurologically injured in destruction experienced by my family and communities — at a time, also, when it was dangerous for me to use my given name in internet communications because of the work I was doing with other trafficking survivors.
My grandfather’s name was Moses Mordecai Morris; he was called Max in childhood and as he came into his adult years, he was called Mack.
(This is why this Intuitive Public Radio platform on Substack, where I introduce our audiences to the Intuitive Network through my own experiences, is also referred to as “Mack’s Memo.”)
When Grandpa was a baby, he was called “Baby Maxie” by elder relatives with thick Jewish accents; when my aunt told me about this, she imitated them and pronounced it in a way that sounded like “Baby Megsy,” which intrigued me.
It was difficult for me to be called Megan for a long time, because my experience was that Megan had died — but because of misunderstandings many people have about neurological injuries, death experiences, and certain forms of invisible violence, this major death had somehow gone unnoticed.
My neurological injuries went on longer-term, and Grandpa’s names — Mack or Max — reminded me of the light my grandfather shone during his life, the strength he had given me through stories I’d been told about him, and his community and business successes.
From the very challenging position I was in, I knew I must secure for myself some new iteration of these ancestral successes.
Being called Max also gave me a sense of my own determination (possibility, maybe even probability) that I would somehow grow into function and capacity again — from injuries so severe that no professional knew how to assist or expected me to be able to regain my life — because Max was the name Grandpa was called as a baby.
Injured neurology is essentially “baby-state” neurology; so I had (and have) a long hard mission of repair to traverse to be able to begin to reclaim my life and vocation. (What a joy it is to be able to write this post and have this conversation.)
While my other grandparents, likewise, have powerful and meaningful roles in my world, Grandpa Mack was known particularly for his caring, relational connections in economically successful, community-oriented business.
This realm became especially important for me to repair myself to engage with, because survivors of injuries like these are typically entirely excluded from (and unknown in) business or economic worlds…
…at the same time as increased awareness in business and marketing communities is essential for solving the problems occurring at these survivors’ intersections.
I never got to meet Grandpa Mack, as he traveled on from this physical plane before I was born, but his presence in the family (as I’m sure one can tell from my lengthy response) made a significant impression.
In this way, he’s helped me rebuild my interpersonal relationships, my economic prowess, and my sense of family and community bodies.
There's a new and emerging landscape, now, about my medicinal naming.
Often, when people have asked me what I'd like to be called, I have tended to let them know that Max or Mack are best — short for Megan Elizabeth Morris. (Syllabically and energetically, I find each of these to be a great redux.)
But it's true also that Max and Mack are like titles now, because of all that has happened.
The meaning they have for me is a mantle that goes beyond my great love and respect for my paternal grandfather and for all my ancestors; these names have crucial meaning in the context of the Intuitive network and the work we are doing together, still unrecognized by so many and so fundamentally life-saving for all.
An enormous amount of rehabilitation has proceeded since the original days of this medicinal naming.
The name Megan is no longer painful for me now, the way it was — because of what we've achieved, and because of how much of my own self I've recovered after experiences so violent that nearly all the people in my world couldn't know about them or be in contact with someone who needed to express the truth of them.
The name Megan, now, today, after moving through the hardest of times, is a great strength.
Megan Elizabeth is what my mother and father named me, a name tremendously dear to me.
The name Megan connects me to the little girl I was before my world became so violent; the precocious, magical, colossally verbal child initiator and strategizer with the wild mop of dark curls who flowed and created and thrived in the love and nourishment given her by her family.
The name Megan connects me to the woman I became as a young adult before I experienced the extremity of that violence that wiped out my physical functions and neurology; the one tending relationships, caring for communities, building ambitious solutions, designing living systems, reaching into the intuitive cosmos for sustenance, making art and music, writing novels and knowledgebases, inviting earnest collaborations, believing in the greatest of possibilities.
The name Megan connects me to the woman I am becoming now, with unusual and profound resourcing still yet to share from the work I have done through years of traveling an unexpected wilderness — even after having lost a decade or so of my life to the wartime we've come through.
(Maybe that decade was "lost." …Or maybe it is exactly as it should be.)
The name Megan connects me to my life as it is unfolding in the present, more fruitfully than ever, and the family I am building as I interconnect relationships and resourcing for these survivors who have nowhere else to go for physical safety, care, love, respect, collaboration, vocational recovery, and recognition for their immense achievements.
I am so grateful to have my name back, to have my self back, in this way.
I am Megan; MEM; Max; and Mack — and all my other names.
Family is an important word; a frequent subject of discussion, recovery, resource coordination, and solutions implementation across many groups in the network.
In the worst times, I thought I had lost any chance to grow my own family — to raise children, to partner meaningfully and resiliently with someone who will treat me with respect and never take advantage of me the way I had been taken advantage of in the past.
Yet somehow, I have come to a place where that true kind of life partnering is a possibility; and considering the work we've done at the intersections of healthy intimate relationships and family frameworks, I have an appreciably more powerful position from which to ensure safety and longevity for children I will raise, ancestors we will continue to honor, and my entire (biological, community, cross-cultural, planetary, and cosmic) family body.
As more and more of my brain and body repair function and capacity, my self who is Megan is more and more present, more and more vital to my personhood and vitality as a living being.
She was gone, she was dead. But she's not gone anymore.
She's been growing back, surely and steadily.
She's coming into her resonance again. She's really here.
I find, these days, that I want others to call me Megan... but, often, interestingly, only if they have already recognized me as Max or Mack.
When I process about this, it seems to me it is because if they know me as Max, they recognize much more of the work I've been doing over all these years.
When people who "knew me back then" call me Megan without recognizing me also as Max, it is a relevant signal to me to be aware that they may not be able to process the work I'm doing now and the experiences of the communities of survivors of severity who are my utmost priority.
That's all right; many can't process that work, regardless of what name they call me.
This shares many similarities with the trauma recovery signals and respect cues (preferred pronouns, preferred new names) sought by our colleagues of diverse gender expressions and transitional life expressions who need to know if the person they're talking with is going to respect them, truly, as the person they are — instead of trying to force them into a kind of conceptual box they themselves can't safely fit in.
There is significant value in knowing someone's predisposition toward you because of the name they use for you, or the ways they refer to you.
There are people who might call me Megan and entirely miss the most important aspects of my life and well-being.
But when someone calls me Max or Mack, it is usually because they know me as part of the Intuitive Network, or have been introduced to me in a situation where that work has been highlighted.
In the context of that work, to be called Megan also calls in the previous injured neurology that has been gradually growing back and re-establishing itself over the course of the neurological repair and recovery work I have been so diligently engaging.
In the context of that work, to be called Megan is a compelling relational integration of all the aspects of myself through my lifetime.
And that's what I want.
But wow, I bet you can see how it's a bit tricky to explain.
When you've been called derogatory names or assigned reference labels that degrade, disempower, dismantle, and abuse your own sacred life force and sovereign self… especially whilst being continuously victimized by physical violence and severe neurological injury… forms of medicinal naming like the ones I've described (and more varieties we might discuss) can become especially helpful to stabilizing recovery.
They can bring you back to yourself, to your loved ones, and to the world as they have for me, reviving Megan Elizabeth Morris in all the most important ways.
There are other names people call me, too — because I've asked them to; because certain names are meaningful to me in relationship with them; and because we have come to know one another well enough to know how to strengthen one another by naming one another wisely and well.
Although my varied names have confused new acquaintances at times, still, they have brought me an array of gifts in helping me find my way again when (almost) no one seemed to understand or believe how survival and recovery, for someone like me, could even be possible.
No matter what's happened or what you've been through, renewed life is possible.
If you're following what I'm storying, it may even be probable.
So I'm grateful to the names.
And I'm grateful to you when you notice the names.
Thank you for recognizing me.