What’s your name? What do you call the person to whom you gave birth? Who is the person that you call when you’re in trouble? Is it a family member? Is it a best friend? What about the mother of your husband? The wife of your cousin? Do you have a name for them? What does the name mean? Words for me have become meaningless. The definitions have become a sliding scale subject to the whims of others.
I once was called mommy and best friend by my most beloved. The one that emerged from my womb first. Now I am abuser. Toxic. Worthy of being left.
Kriscia was once a random insignificant bitch. Once she told Manrique that’s she’d love him forever. In 2015 I looked at her Facebook page and eyed the loving response he wrote to her in Spanish. He called her wife.
My mother in law called me baby. She said many women gave birth to daughters, but I was different and she was thankful for it. She said she loved me and chose me as a daughter. She also said I never accepted her as a mother and she was committed to helping her son reclaim his life from me.
My mother told me I was worth 1000 sons and was honored. She also told my husband he shouldn’t listen to me. She told my cousin my children were in danger. The name she gave me as a teenager, heifer, may be the most memorable. She also told everyone who would listen I was a thief.
My husband called me “my love”. He wrote it on letters. On the envelopes of cards. In text messages and stored me in his phone under that term of endearment. I don’t know how I’m stored now, but Kriscia is now stored as “baby”. That used to be one of his names for me.
My five children at home and I have seen the very real game of musical chairs that those we loved and trusted most have played with names. It’s caused us a lot of grief and heartache, but it has strengthened our bond. Today I broke down and they rallied to finish cooking the meal that triggered the tears. They graciously helped me pack the food I was cooking for a friend. My first attempt to reclaim one of my most prized monikers—helpful. But one of my children is playing a bit of musical chairs with his own name.
It seems that when he looks at his name, Nyles Christian Burton II, he is “disgusted”. For the last year and a half he’s been trying on new names. He learned from his father that there’s nothing in a name except empty promises. And in my son’s own words, there’s nothing honorable left in carrying his.