in the end is the beginning
I no longer remember by what labyrinthine path I originally found Fred Clark’s blog, Slacktivist (in those days on TypePad), or exactly when it occurred. My best guess is 2005. I had only begun reading (non-Livejournal) blogs during election season 2004, but quickly wondered how I’d ever lived without them.
The commenters on Slacktivist were so erudite and knowledgeable on so many topics I didn’t know anything about that I lurked there for about a year before I first said anything.
Slacktivist was the very first blog I ever commented on, so that’s where I learned the ropes. Its standards became my standards. It showed me what a blog could do. And as I found my way, I realized I could be a blogger too (not just a commenter).
But first I had to have a name.
I’ve written other posts about my complicated relationships with other names I have gone by. But the short version is: I’ve never really liked my first name; and I changed my surname to something I carefully crafted over a six-month period, some 20 years ago. Even at that time, in 1992, I expected some day I would pick a different first name.
So you might think that the name I picked to comment under at Slacktivist – Laima — would have been carefully thought out, and designed to last.
But it wasn’t.
There was one day that I was finally ready to jump in and make myself known. So I needed a name. I spent 15 minutes debating alternatives before I settled on one. Ultimately I picked Laima because it seemed a good way to reference three important parts of my identity at once: my Lithuanian heritage; my Paganism; and being a weaver. Since it didn’t sound like anyone else’s name , it wouldn’t be easily confused with anyone else.
If I could have known then that I’d still be calling myself a variation of Laima seven years later, might I have picked differently? Or at least put more thought into the process? Hard to say. I am a person who reaches a certain threshold and leaps, without plans. I don’t believe in fate. I don’t want to know ahead of time how everything’s going to turn out. My favorite part of the present and future is co-creating something new, something unexpected, something unpredictable.
And Laima, Laiima, and Laiima Garrabing have all served me very well. I learned so much from being her. I became a writer. I began to believe in myself for the first time. I learned to trust my instincts, even when they took me in directions no one else appreciated. I ‘wrote to heal’ before I knew that was a thing, and in the process, not only gained insight into my own life and various people I used to know, but I healed from wounds I thought were permanent. I integrated, and I moved on.
I was Laima when I moved to Maryland, and discovered I could love where I live. I was Laima when my old life fell to pieces, with health problems and depression and fears that I no longer had anything to live for. I hung on by my teeth through two years of that before I realized it was more of Dabrowski’s Positive Disintegration, and that it was a good thing that my old life had been dismantled. Because it was holding me back. I started to dream about, and then imagine, being someone radically different than I had ever been before.
Laima and Laiima and Laiima Garrabing made these transitions possible. Before she came along, I knew things I wanted for my life, but I despaired that they could ever happen. I could not fathom a way to get from where I was to where I wanted to go.
And yet somehow, I’m now on the threshold of getting there. And seven years’ journey is not, for me, a long transition. Neither is it the blink of an eye. It’s been exactly as long as it needed to be.
Several days ago, my association with The Slacktiverse formally came to an end. I met so many lovely people there, some of whom were my friends for a time, and perhaps some of those friendships will persist. I certainly hope so.
As I move forward, though, my time as Laima/Laiima/Laiima Garrabing has reached its end.
Instead of a pine cone that needs a forest fire to release its seeds, I envision my Laima as an exoskeleton that I had molted, but it took a forest fire to help me let go.
I should have found out as a child who I was separate from my mother, but that never happened the way it should have. I think I’m finally ready for it to happen now.
I don’t know who I’m going to be next.
Many parts of me fear being unknown, not having a name. But how can I name myself when I don’t know who I am? When I don’t even know who I want to be?
I need time to explore, time to try things, time to fail in new ways. I need to surprise myself.
But in the meantime, I also need to go by a name of some sort.
I wrote out a list of every name I’ve ever called myself. Then I crossed out all of those letters from an alphabet. I was left with six letters that have never been within my comfort zone. I will be going by three of them. They do not create a word of any sort; they are just a collection of consonants. They don’t imply anything. They don’t box me in.
So I have something resembling a name, but I’m also free to develop into whomever I want to be.
Good-bye, Lai(i)ma! Hello, Pqw!