This Alcoholic Named Herself

When I first got sober, and was recognizing my character defects of Step 4, one of the other women told me, You don’t have to put on a sandwich board of your defects and walk up and down Main to be real. The thought of having people think they like me but only know my polite public persona has always made me uncomfortable.

I’m the kind of person people love to label with nicknames. For instance, I’ve been called a hot potato because I speak my mind, despite the audience and sometimes to spite the audience. I want people to understand me. So if I’m a hot potato, then cut me open, step back and let me steam!

I’ve also been called: Quick Brick, Red, Daughter #1… but I always preferred my brother’s nickname for me, which was Heidi of the North Woods. (Picture cutoff overalls, white T-shirt, knee socks, hiking boots and a Robin Hood hat with a crow feather)

During the 80s when I got divorced, I could make Heidi my new name…for free. I could also pick a middle name and pay to have that changed. My given name was Linda Lou. What would you do? Heidi Lou? (I didn’t think so.)

I borrowed a baby naming book and covering up the names, just looked at the meanings. I first underlined, God sees and God rescues for my middle name. Having known Him as a child, I knew this was true. Starting life over was a tremendous gift and I didn’t want to forget that. I also liked Enlightened for His service. I was committed to sharing what He would teach me during the rest of my life. Okay. I wanted both.

I went to the lawyer and explained that I would pay for two middle names. He picked up his pen and wrote down Hazel and Orianna. Then he smiled.

You know what people will call you, don’t you? He asked.

I didn’t get it.

Heidi HO!

Perfect! My name makes people smile and I will be inspired by the symbolism. So when people tell me they like my name I say, Thank you. I picked it out! It gives me a chance to tell a little of my story if they ask about that.

As an afterthought, I called my Mom and told her my new name. She got very quiet. (Being considerate is not one of my strong suits. I should have called her first.)

I thought, I guess she isn’t happy that I didn’t stay with Linda Lou.

She sniffled and said, I never told you that I thought of you as Heidi all the time I carried you but at the hospital I caved in and named you after your two grandmas because I thought I should honor them. Now I know I made the right decision.