"Alisha, what's wrong?"
It happens every time he says my name. I pause for a minute, as if I need a moment to recognize who he's talking to. He calls me all these other things, and I answer to them without a second thought, but when he says my name...
I'm writing my way through this month's #thisisagoodbody challenge over on instagram. I'm getting real and honest about the things that hurt, and by holding space for them I am, hopefully, eliminating their power.
And it's hard work. The work that was supposed to be just about eliminating shame from my body has leaked over into other areas of my life, and this little project I joined just for fun and the desire to join one of the monthly yoga challenges has turned into this thing that's changing me.
Opening up the can of lies I believed about my body means opening up and digging into the past. I thought the shame would be localized to one area but instead it spread. The shame I held in my body was the shame I felt about abuse, addiction, death and every other trauma. The feelings I had about my body weren't just specific to my body but also the body of Christ.
I've written and cried and practiced and danced and groaned my way through this month, reclaiming freedom. My heart, finally open, has begun to feel and I find often I am weeping for reasons I don't fully understand.
Jodi Picoult says in one of her books that you can tell when a person loves you because your name sounds different on their tongue.
Years ago, my name was spoken in a way that wasn't loving. That sound, the way my name was said, what follows, it rings in my head. And I never really noticed it. I would complain about not having a nickname, lay in bed at night and dream about trying on new names: something exotic and fun and different, a new girl without a story.
I'm in the process of reclaiming a lot of things in the name of freedom, but one thing I'm just realizing I need to reclaim is my name.
My name comes from the name Alice, meaning noble. That's what I've always been told, but I always kind of squirmed inside the meaning of my name. Noble felt too big, too clunky a meaning to pull around with me anywhere.
So, like I always tend to do, I did some research.
Alisha is also a Sanskrit name, meaning 'Protected by God.'
I saw this meaning and tears filled my eyes. I could blame it on my overactive tear ducts lately but I'm not totally sure that's it. Something about this meaning hit me in the heart.
Protected by God.
Even then, in the dark days haunted by abuse and addiction.
Then, in the moments when I forgot how to cry and even my name sounded like a threat.
Then, when I stood over a grave and wept for the forgiveness that felt stuck inside of me.
Protected by God, even when I lay prostrate on the floor, crying to a God I wasn't sure I believed in anymore, so severely wounded by His body, ready to give up all hope and end it all.
Even then, even now, protected by God.
When the man I love says my name, beautiful and safe in his mouth, it takes some getting used to. It reminds me of all the hurt and pain that for so long was and still is attached to that name. But in the process of reclaiming it, claiming my identity, when he says my name I reach for his hand. I am safe. I am loved. I am protected by God.
Then, now, and always.