Bearing the Name

My unusual name caused me much pain with name calling in my school days. This poem was inspired when I realised in my 40’s that I had a beautiful name and I re-owned it proudly!


Bearing the name.


At infants school it used to be Susan Janet or Sheila who were picked

But never me.

The group that gathered in the corner house

That belonged, it seemed,

To Wendy,

Were select.

Chosen, I thought, for their smallness,

Their dainty feet and hands

So able to manage the tiny cups and saucers that held the tea

That Wendy served.


I was too big.

My hand span, so good for the piano that I did not want to play

But so clumsy with the tea sets made by dolls.

And Mother said that being tall was good

But never told me why.

And no one seemed to share the biggest thing of all,

The name I had been given that made me odd.

And I knew of nobody, in my school or anywhere

Maybe throughout the world

Who had the name of Chrystabell

That surely I bore alone.


At juniors’ the friends were Ann, Elaine and Jenny

For presents they had purses and hair slides with their names.

On holiday we looked and looked in gift shops over Devon

To find a mug or hair slide that may have borne my name.

Rosemary my sister, and even brother Paul

Could have owned a key ring or a mirror

Emblazoned with their title

But for me, the need for special order,

A huge pencil case…in wood…

With pink roses and CHRYSTABELL, in blue.


At senior school the teams were picked

By Linda, Mary, Sandra

But nobody chose Chrystabell

Her name just didn’t fit.

And when it came to needle work and naming in embroidery

The head band for next terms cookery ……

It took me all the year!


So Chrystabell became “Christine” as people found it easier

And “Chrys” to be more friendly,

More acceptable to all.

For years it was my title, and my desire for acceptance

Forced me to shun the name that parents so proudly gave.


Then I grew into myself and owned my name as Chrystabell

Not Christine, Chris or Chrystal but the name I had been given.

Meaning Christ’s beloved one and making me feel special

I resolved to use it and own it without shame.

And I am glad that here in my world of middle adulthood,

Among the Ann’s and Margaret’s there are few who share my name.

And to be unique with a name that causes comment

Makes up for the all the years of rejection from the team!


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