"If I were to write a biography, it would start like this: I was born in Brussels, Belgium, on May 4, 1929 . . . and I died six weeks later." - Audrey Hepburn
Like Audrey Hepburn, I died when I was a baby. She was revived by her mother when her heart stopped as a newborn. I was revived by my father. When I was at my low points in January I had wished and said terrible things like I wish I had died that day. I have rarely talked about that accident because I was ridiculed for sharing my story when I was a teen.
For several years, my birthname (c̶h̶a̶n̶t̶a̶l̶) was dead to me. I disliked my name for many reasons and wished I could be CeCe (my nickname) or something more unique (like Mallory). My name was so common that I shared it with my stepsister. I felt it was her name and I had to settle for shitty nicknames like chital. I felt second in every situation, in every household, in every relationship... I wasn't even the main character in my own life. I watched me waste away during and the aftermath of my toxic relationship with someone who was deliberately abusing me for his amusement. Cody helped snuffed out that girl's flame, she no longer had a drive to succeed. I lost a lot of things the summer of 1998 and I regret the things I did to protect myself and what I did to ruin relationships because I never once thought he was capable of being cruel. The night I realized what he had done to me was the night I died from my first heartbreak then looked at my future boyfriend and saw the same shady smirk Cody used to give me... the same smirk that I mistakenly thought was a lovely gaze. In 2021 when the flashbacks started to trouble me I knew it was time to legally change my name. I could, I can still hear Cody say that name, he always said it in a singsong way that melted my heart.
When I was a teenager, the worse feeling was when the boys went from saying CeCe to c̶h̶a̶n̶t̶a̶l. That was usually my clue that version I loved of them was gone.
During my time at Canadore, I was Cerelia Lilac to my classmates and my professors. I felt it was a perfect name. I could still use my nickname CeCe. The meaning relates to my birthdate. My birthday is in the first week of spring. Once upon a time, I fell in love again in the springtime.
I felt that it was a new season in my life; I was becoming someone I dreamed about.
I am so very proud of Cerelia, she worked hard and earned her fibromyalgia advisor certification and two college diplomas, during a pandemic nonetheless! That girl earned her name on those papers! After my mental health breakdown, my experience in the psychiatric ward, and my exposure to my traumas, I had lost my connection to Cerelia. I felt disconnected from both Cerelia and Lilac - I missed lilac season because of my chronic sadness. I was suicidal nearly daily at that point (May 2022). I felt I couldn't even use CeCe as my name; I came to a realization that most of the people who sexually assaulted me used that name when we had relationship(s). I know when CeCe's spirit died, I have carried her for decades but I knew I had to let her go now.
Even though I had lost my connection with the name Cerelia, I wish to have my certificates & diplomas with her name written. Cerelia was the girl who always wanted more education, she earned her dreams. I want to honor that part of me. Cerelia is my legal name.
I chose a new name when it was time to start my new life last summer, the name I chose was Shawn. It was meaningful to me; reasons that I am not ready to share, I may never share. I secretly wanted to change my name to Shawn even before I chose Cerelia. I opened my Shawn Hazel Elliott instagram in February 2021, my first post on that profile was on August 5, 2022. I was hesitant to share my choice of name with my partner, I thought he would not approve of my name. I feel that he never warmed to the idea and took months for him to openly use my name, when he wouldn't call me sweetie. It was lonely when he wouldn't call my name.
In my last two years of high school, I wore a blue & white soccer coat with the name Shawn embroidered on the left sleeve and 9 on the right sleeve. Shawn was my nickname at West Ferris Secondary School ('97 - '98) for those who struggled with pronouncing my birthname, they just used the name on my coat. I chose these three names, Shawn, Hazel & Elliott, with such care and so much meaning. Shawn was incredibly brave for taking the leap to move to a new community and begin the healing process.
I feel that Shawn died in the new year. She was overwhelmed with the memories of sexual assaults and inappropriate behaviors. She was labeling and attaching the proper words to the abuse and gross behavior she experienced as a preteen then as a teen. Shawn was suicidal and had fallen into a very dark depression. She had psychotic episodes and came undone around the time she saw a photo of one of the parking garage abusers. Shawn could hear one of the parking garage abusers use her new name. It shattered Shawn. The end of Shawn of was when she held a knife to herself that time, instead of cutting her skin, she grabbed her hair and cut a chunk out. She cried in fetal position in the kitchen until she passed out. Shawn stopped taking calls and messages; Kirk became increasingly more worried with every hour that she would not respond. He showed up, to check up on me and ask me out on coffee date. I am aware of where I cut my hair out, my partner says it's not noticeable but I see that missing chunk of hair every time I look in the mirror. I cry about what happened that day.
I adored the name Mallory. The first time I remembering knowing that name was from Family Ties. Although it was another Mallory that influenced my choice in name change. Mallory is one of the characters from my favorite book series as a youth. Mallory is a book nerd, who loves writing, and seeks approval from her friends, who treat her poorly. I could very much relate to her. I was very much her. I was a wallflower girl who thought she was tougher than she pretended to be.
When a flower doesn't bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower. -Alexander Den Heijer
I knew I was Mallory when I saw the little seedling growing in the remains of the neglected flower that I accidently killed in the fall time. I saw that new flower growing on March 13, 2023. I knew I was going to be okay even though I was in the middle of my most saddest and most loneliest part of my long distance relationship with my partner of 24 years. Boundaries were crossed (several years ago) and not discussed until I had a breakdown and told him to leave. I was no longer tolerating disrespect and I was putting my wellbeing first for a change. We didn't stop communicating through our time apart. He came to visit for my birthday and he moved in once he began working in KW last month. Our relationship, our connection is unique and worth fighting for. I'm working on a piece called Listen and the focus is on my relationship with Kirk throughout my struggles, from the starting point of reaching out for his help to present day situations.
The Seven M's of Mallory
Before I lost me, I was just a girl who wanted to write short stories, listen to music, dress fashionably, be social and drink specialty drinks. I did love my uniqueness. I know who I was and I am trying to recover what I loved the most of about myself and allow myself to grow into the person I wanted to be.
NO FAMILY NAME WORTHY - I ADOPTED MY OWN
Hepburn was chosen because of its meaning: Old English words heah ("high") and byrgen ("burial mound") or alternatively it means high place near the water. Both are fitting because of my view on my mortality and my traumas with water safety.
I adopted Audrey Hepburn's name in honor of my grandmother. I always hated the story that my grandmother had to change her newborn's name because her husband didn't approve of the name. After two weeks.... Must have sucked being a housewife during the baby boom era, cause it wasn't easy in the 2000s. So, I was cheeky and honored her, in my own way, in each of the children's name(s) and in my last name. I had acknowledged January 10th as the date I changed my name: I lost my grandmother on January 10, 1995. Her passing was very hard on me, her last few months were challenging, she had severe burns and was hospitalized the last weeks of her life in the ICU for burn victims. I was the last person to feed her a meal. I beat myself up for not going to visiting her again after January 8th, maybe I would have been able to get her to eat again.