Tag Archives: Swedish

Identity Crisis

My name is Sharon. I don’t like it much, although I suppose I have more or less made peace with it now. When I was growing up in the 70s the name Sharon, along with Tracey, was renowned for being a common name and even associated with promiscuity. I know now that it is a Hebrew name, not quite as regal as the princess Sarah, but having to do with the plain of Sharon in Israel.

I am sure I am not alone as a woman having identity crisis. Most women change their surname at least once when they marry. I’ve taken that a bit further – I have changed my first name, not just once but several times. Names are tied up with identity and it seems to me that women in particular have a challenge to decide who we are. I’m not particularly feminist, but I do feel acutely aware that my name represents my identity. Who am I? Who do I want to be?

I married early, and my first marriage broke down when I was just 23. I had already changed my surname to my husband’s and I definitely had an identity crisis. My first husband was Swedish and I loved having a Swedish name. I didn’t want to give it up even after we split up. At the time I was also intrigued by all things Celtic, and picked an Irish-sounding name completely out of the air: Shannagh. I even made up the spelling. I used it for a few months and then abandoned it, feeling that it was a little bit ridiculous and that made me a little ridiculous. I do have a vague Irish connection, but Shannagh was just made-up and it made me feel fake.

Then, in my 30s I left the church and went on a spiritual journey that culminated, in the end, in not quite converting to Judaism. I came quite close and I decided to take a Hebrew name anyway – Shoshana. Shoshana means Lily and is one of the names of God: Shoshana HaAmakim is the Lily of the Valley. What I particularly love about Shoshana is that the Lily of the Valley grows in the plain of Sharon. It is associated with the town of Shushan in Persia where Esther was Queen. It is even associated with the Apocryphal book of Susanna who was known for her purity. I’ve been Shoshana most of the time for about 5 years.

Living in this new place, I decided to revert to my own name and new my husband’s name, and make a new start. I’m getting used to it again. It’s also my ‘official’, ‘legal’ name according to the DWP as I discovered when I enquired about my pension as a stay-at-home mum. Ironically that makes me want to rebel and change my name again! I never signed anything to say I would change my surname to my new husband’s name, so it makes me a bit cross that it has been decided for me without my consent.

I did have a little bit of an epiphany though about that. If the husband symbolically represents Christ, and the wife represents the Church for whom Christ died, a woman taking her husband’s name is symbolic of the Church (the body of believers) taking on the *identity* of the people of Christ. That’s kind of beautiful, but I don’t like the State making that decision for me. What business is it of the State?

Just recently though I have started to get interested again in all things Celtic. I’m living in a Celtic country, with its own language, and history, flag, customs and traditions. There’s even a Cornish tartan.

I don’t know what made me do it, but I decided to look up the name Shannagh to see if it was a real name, and it turns out it really is. It is an Irish girl’s name denoting a descendant of Sean and meaning old and wise. Well I don’t know whether any of my Irish ancestors were named Sean, but I hope I’m wiser now. I’m definitely older. 🙂

Jag har haft fullt upp!

It has all fallen apart a bit. I tend to do this. I tend to take on so much that I burn out and end up not finishing anything. (Sigh) The title is a Swedish phrase, which means roughly ‘I have had a full schedule’, or ‘I’ve been super-busy’! 🙂

I have picked up a dozen or more books and started them, but not finished them. In fact, I took a bunch of half-read books back to the library yesterday. I’m trying not to kick myself about the Read52 challenge. I don’t think I could catch up now, unless I get credit for good intentions!

I’m also so far behind in the Bible in 90 Days challenge this time that I really have no hope (or intention, sorry) of catching up. I also got to the end of Job just feeling that I was getting very little out of it this time round. Last year I read through faithfully every day, and marked all the words of God in red, and anything else important (like repetition and themes) in blue, and I really loved it. I saw new things in it and I’m really glad I did it. But this time, I had already switched to listening on audio Bible by the time I got to Joshua instead of actually reading it, as I was finding it so… boring! I really don’t want to feel that way about Bible reading.

So actually I’m juggling. I have a lot of plates to spin – being a wife and ‘mum’ with ME, homeschooling, housework, study, and trying to set up a Ministry / Business. I have never managed to find a great balance between homeschooling and housework – when the children were young, I figured that if I managed to get out of bed and the children were basically washed and fed and clothed and happy, everything else could look after itself.

I have been wondering why I decided to take on the extra spinning plates of study and business. Maybe a psychoanalyst is called for – do I have some need to set myself up to fail? Actually, I think I’m pretty driven, perhaps I need to prove myself in some way (I’m not sure to whom though or why). But being driven and fighting ME is a pretty tough battle. Actually I have heard that there’s quite a bit of evidence that a lot of people who get ME are A-type personalities (I tried to look for a good article to link to but I couldn’t find one).

I have never quite learned to pace myself either. I always seem to need to start something new, take on a little bit more, work a little bit harder. I help out at Scouts and Guides in a limited capacity, I teach (Sunday School, very basic Hebrew, adult Bible Study, although actually I haven’t done any classes since we moved down here as there doesn’t seem to be any interest), I’m now involved with two churches, I study (and now I ‘have’ to be studying my OU course, just about everything else looks more interesting which is another challenge! I’m even trying to learn Cornish in my ‘spare time’!)

I constantly feel on the edge of relapse, but resting doesn’t help anyway. I figure that, if I’m going to feel desperately tired and in pain whether I rest or get on with it anyway, I might as well just get on with it. Thankfully my ME is not severe (although I have had a few bad patches, and poor husband always seems me at my worst as I’m always pretty wrecked by the end of the day). I still don’t want to accept that it is ME to be quite honest. I would much rather have something that’s easily fixable, curable. But I don’t go to the GP anymore. My current one is nicer and more helpful than previous ones, but he’s no help really. When the blood-tests always come back negative or ‘borderline’ there’s no clear direction on how to treat me. So until and unless I can’t, I keep on keeping on. I keep picking up books and starting them. I keep trying to read my Bible. I keep studying and writing and doing my little groups. The children are washed and clothed and fed and reasonably happy. That sounds like a good life to me 🙂

Read52 Week1


This week’s book for my first official read of Read52, courtesy of a charity shop in Plymouth, is “The Kindness of Strangers” by Kate Adie.

It is considerably thicker than it looks in he photo, and I worked out that would need to read just over two long chapters a day to finish it within the week. I have struggled to complete each day’s reading but I plan to read all day Saturday 🙂

I don’t often read biographies (I’d struggle to think of another off the top of my head), but I have always been interested in Kate Adie because she did the same degree as I did… or so I thought!

When I was at UCL, the Scandinavian Studies Department (and especially the Swedish section) trumpeted Kate Adie as their brightest and best, but not only have I now discovered that she actually studied at another university (Newcastle), but I now know that her degree included German as an integral and compulsory component, which the UCL course did not. That rather changes the flavour of the degree, I feel. (Not sure that German would have made international journalists out of us all, but anyway!) 🙂

One interesting aside relating to Scandinavian Studies is that Kate confides that she managed to slip in to the course by the back door, despite not necessarily having the requisite A Level results. When I was at UCL, Scandinavian Studies had become a booby-prize course, occupied mainly by students who couldn’t get into the course they really wanted, which is a shame really, as it is a fascinating subject in its own right.

The majority of the story is of course related to Kate’s journalistic adventures, and she regales with witty, self-deprecating stories of the vagaries of BBC life and the oddities of foreign customs and governments. So far it has been thoroughly enjoyable, funny, interesting and educational. I’m quite pleased with my first pick.