What's in a name...?
I’m not talking about what’s between your legs this time.
I’m talking about my name. I’ve had a few over the years, and different hair to match.
Caroline D’Arcy is on my birth certificate.
Legally, my name is Caroline Vickers.
You can tell what age I met my friends by what they call me:
If you met me in the last seven years, I’m Caroline.
At sixth form and university, I’m Caz.
Secondary school, I’m Cazi.
In primary school, I was Caroline.
I didn’t feel any relevance to this until chatting to the wonderful Louise and her name iterations; and then this morning, a client sent me a text: ‘How did you get so wise?’
My answer: by slowly putting myself first.
There are a thousand meanings to that statement: tuning in to my authentic voice, listening to who I am as a person, not trying to fit in, not relying on external references for validation and balancing the ego and inner self.
But I also noticed that each time my name changed a new iteration of myself kicked in…
I was Caroline D’Arcy until I was three and Mama D and Papa V got hitched. I was a very happy and contented child who was a little shy but knew she was loved.
Caroline Vickers in primary school, Caroline to my friends.
This is where the ‘stories’ start kicking in, experiences that formed the deep-rooted beliefs that have formed who I am, a lot of them positive but a few that caused doubt and fear, like:
My teacher splitting me and my best friend up because we were ‘too close’ at the age of six; I didn’t understand and I hadn’t done anything wrong, so I believed there was something wrong with me. I became aware that I was bigger than some of the other girls (still a perfectly healthy size) but made the connection that I was being separated because I was fat.
I didn’t make the top tier in gymnastics – again in my head - because I'm fat.
I figured out then that I needed to try and make people like me.
When I moved into secondary school, I was super sensitive and shy (yes, shy…).
I was filling in an application for a pen-pal (pre-Facebook, kids, pre-Facebook). One of the girls in year Eight laughed at me, ‘Why would boys want you?’ – my translation - I'm fat and ugly, I’ll never be good enough for boys to like me.
Then Caz landed.
Year 8 and I was hanging with older, cool kids. I developed and felt more me, but learned that I had to fit in. They were all thin, moshers, rebels, a little on the bad side, having sex, and that made them ‘happy’ and ‘popular’. Well, I could do most of that… and so I started to ‘fit in’ by mimicking, mirroring, being as like them as I possibly could.
When I was eighteen, I fell in love… some parts were great, but in others, I felt I was secondary to my friend. She was thinner and I knew he had liked her first, whereas I was too fat, I made myself sick, I drank and partied because that’s what we did, I fitted in, we had our gang - yet I never felt good enough. He had a temper, I believed I deserved it – I’d never be enough for boys to treat me with respect.
When I was nineteen, my Grandma became seriously ill. Not understanding what an empath was (I feel other peoples feelings), I confused her feeling of shame and disgust as her body deteriorated as my own - I believed I was disgusting.
When Caroline emerged… I had left my first relationship. I got a grown-up job in corporate health and safety. The return to ‘Caroline’ was more for professional reasons, but my life was my own again.
The meaning of sex had changed for me. It wasn’t about me, it wasn’t my choice when I had it, it was the only way I had, other than buying drugs, to get him to calm down. But it was a way to get boys to like me.
Let’s just say, I got boys to like me. I particularly liked married men. No emotional attachment. Just sex, ‘intimacy’ without the risk of getting hurt – I wasn’t good enough to deserve a man who would respect me.
A year or so later, I found out I had developed cervical cancer. Fortunately, it was picked up early and removed surgically. (Go yet your smears/paps girls!)
I believed I deserved it; I was disgusting. I disassociated from my body even more.
The shame that I had put my mum through this was almost unbearable.
The only way I knew how to deal with it was through drink and numbing it all away.
This is where the partying picked up. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of it was incredible fun, living the Didsbury life, amazing friends, trips to Ibiza - but over time, I just became more and more numb.
It took another relationship full of the same patterns for me to realise three things:
- I bloody love sex, I’m damn good at it, but there I don’t know where I can find out more about it easily and it all seems cloaked in shame
- I must really hate myself to stick with this one.
- Something has got to change
This was the catalyst: psychosexual therapy, life-changing retreats, incredible coaches, mentors and guides and finally leaving that ten-year career in health and safety (you know, because we should have a good, secure job to be good enough) to train in Sexology.
Then, during the intensive part of my course, Caroline D’Arcy appeared. Originally it was to do with keeping my family separate (I still believed they would of felt ashamed of what I do; I couldn’t have been more wrong). It felt good, it felt right, I felt like me again.
That really is the lowlight reel. But this isn’t a sob story, we all go through shit, that truly is life.
The power is to see the gift in the shit.
I am grateful for each and every one of these things, and every other thing that is not in my awareness. Without these lessons, I couldn’t be who I am now.
So yep, Caroline D’Arcy is here to stay.
I feel like a goddess emerging:
strong, open, loving, sensual, happy, connected, peaceful. I love my body.
All feelings that were completely alien to me three years ago.
I am healing physically (from parasitic infections, weight gain, exhaustion), mentally, and spiritually, I am learning not to fight who my authentic self is.
One of the best parts?
I get to help others on their journey now.
I feel wise (still daft as a brush, I found a candle in my fridge yesterday). It’s an ongoing journey of course, and there is excitement in every next step.
But I could only get here by putting myself first.
If you have disconnected from your sexual self, if you feel guilty about putting yourself first even though you are exhausted, if you feel shame around past experiences and feel numb in your relationship and life;
I know a fair few things that that may help.
If this resonates, I am always open for a chat to see if I can help. Reach out, drop me a message.
Or just keep perving at all my good stuff on here and join the party when you feel the time is right.
Big love, and a massive sigh of relief and contentment. It feels good to share.
Caroline D’Arcy. xx
p.s. Have you joined our Tribe?? In the IM Woman Tribe Facebook group, we talk frankly and openly about how our bodies actually work, myth-bust years of damaging cultural advice and strive to love and accept our bodies exactly as they are, right now. Plus, you can access ‘personal training for your libido’ programmes and get to know all of Caroline’s tips and tricks.
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