The thing I hate about my name is the fear attached to it.
It’s not a hate or a dislike but a consuming terror.
Terror, because my name trails behind me like a parasite.
Like a leech it clings to me and drains me, but it’s not my blood it wants.
At every introduction it sucks, with each and every stutter, a bit of my confidence.
And it leaves behind shame like a mosquito leaves behind venom,
A reminder that it was there,
Like a gnat in a spiders web, my name is perpetually trapped, tangled in my throat.
Hello, I am-
I struggle against my stutter to push out the word.
It’s the first word I learned to write,
And the assortment of letters given to me as identity,
But still I find myself, hating it, struggling to say it more than any other word.
My voice is trapped behind its two harsh syllables,
and all that escapes from my introduction is a declaration:
But what is it that I am?
I am not the silence that follows
In the seconds my name takes to escape,
Full of pity or confusion or awkwardness and eyes uncomfortably avoiding mine,
And I am not the hate I feel for myself, aware each burning moment is one too long.
I am not illiterate or incompetent,
But like that silence, I am fighting to be heard.
-I am Mary Elizabeth McLoughlin.
Because my voice has escaped and it’s free,
Free to show you who I am beyond my uncertainty and imperfection.
An identity that is not confined to four letters.
Mary in Hebrew means sea of bitterness,
And on bad days I struggle against its waves.
I thrash as the water rises, but I don’t let it drown me.
I can’t let it drown me.
Because the biblical meaning of Mary is rebellion and that’s what I choose.
My names rebels against my stutter and a world who doesn’t care to listen.
The thing I love about my name is it cannot be silenced.
Like it has danced from the lips of countless Marys before me,
It weaves its way out through my throat though it constricts around it
Compelled by a voice that demands to be heard.
It escapes to show you the kindness and strength in me from Mary Elizabeth my godmother
And the faith and unconditional love from Mary Elizabeth my grandmother.
Because my voice is a warrior and it wields their name.
I am not the four letters of my name
And the ugly breath that tries to free it from my throat,
but the people whose lives they’ve followed
And that Mary flies from my spirit with no hesitation.
Because that voice belongs to Mary Elizabeth McLoughlin, and it will echo.