This feels a little like my first day of school when I was five, which I loved. I was so happy to finally be with the bigger kids. I had wanted to start school a year before, when my brother started, but of course I wasn’t allowed. But finally I got there.
This is of course, my first post for Canvas, and that is equally exciting. I’m not 100 per cent sure quite what to expect but I know some of the ‘kids’, and am very happy to be here. This has been something I have wanted to do for a while, but the time wasn’t quite right. Now it is, and so I’m here.
I do something a little different from most bloggers. I use my own name. No pseudonym for me. While there are definite advantages in using one, and for most people it makes good sense, for me, using my own name is too important.
Remember playing hide and seek, as a child? I admit I hated it because as I was usually the youngest, I always had this fear that I would be off hiding in some cupboard and the rest of the kids would decide to end the game. They just wouldn’t tell me, and I would be left in that cupboard for the rest of the day wondering why they had never found me.
I was only just a teenager (fourteen) when I began another, more sinister, ‘game’ of hide and seek. It would stretch on for some fourteen years before there was any hope of the ‘game’ being over. Two men (not linked to each other) simultaneously stalked me, while I hid.
I became pretty good at the ‘game’ of hiding. I knew to always look over my shoulder to see who was behind me, I learnt to scan a crowd to check who was, and wasn’t, in that crowd. One of the men rode a motorbike and I could spot that bike from a distance. I knew which friends it was safe to visit at their homes, and which were not safe. I learnt who would watch my back, and who could not be relied on to do that. I learnt who my real friends were. I learnt never to answer the phone, never answer the door. I knew that once I left home at 18, it was going to be pretty necessary to keep on the move, so that I would never be caught up to. I had to be one step ahead, always. And while I had friends who did what they could to protect me, I realised that no one else was affected by this, and so no one was going to help me end the ‘game’.
This ‘game’ of hide and seek ended when I was nearly thirty. By that stage I had fled to the other end of the country and changed my name. Oh, and I had married someone (as part of changing my name) but married him mostly because I was terrified that if I didn’t, he would eventually become another stalker. By that time, everyone was a potential stalker to me.
I was also very sick. My mental health had finally crashed under the weight of the ‘game’ and I was diagnosed with depression, Anorexia Nervosa, and not surprisingly, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). That’s what one (very long) ‘game’ of hide and seek could do to me. I’m sure the effects on the other ‘players’ were not quite so dramatic, although admittedly one had a diagnosis of schizophrenia and his stalking efforts would escalate as his level of mental health went down. Unfortunately his mental health workers were entirely uninterested in working with this issue (another story!).
PTSD has a habit of going on and on, so for years afterward I still felt stalked, even though I wasn’t. The trauma in my mind simply kept repeating itself and I still didn’t feel safe. Even now there are things I do to protect myself. It’s just natural to me, although I guess it’s a strange sort of natural. I had spent years not wanting to be me. I didn’t want to be Cate Reddell, because these men had wrecked my identity for me.
But as I started to heal, after a whole lot of treatment, I wanted to be me again. The first step was to change my name back. To take back what was mine.
And so writing in my own name is really important to me. I am allowing myself to be me. Does that make sense? I don’t want to spend any more of my life hiding, so the last thing I want to do is write under a pseudonym.
I know there are some risks involved, but you won’t find my photo on here and you won’t recognise me in the street. The benefits of being proud of being able to be me again, far outweighs the risks for me. I recognise it’s not like that for everyone, and I totally respect that. I’m not in any way saying that others should do what I’m doing. But for me? It’s perfectly right. No more hide and seek.
I am Cate Reddell, and I’m really happy to be joining the Canvas team.
© Cate Reddell and A Canvas Of The Minds 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cate Reddell and A Canvas Of The Minds with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Reblogged this on I Was Just Thinking. . . and commented:
We have a new author over at Canvas! Come read all about this brave Kiwi — no, not the fruit — and what, for her, is in a name.
Mmmmmm I HEART kiwi!!!
Oh! Not the fruit? Well, then….
LOL. Kiwis are great! 😀
Hi Cate! Sorry you had to endure that. Stalkers suck.
Thanks Jenny. You’re right. They do suck. Unfortunately too many people think stalking is a joke. That is so sad.
As I already told you, I was totally convinced you were already a Canvas author. That goes to show you.
You know, it is a funny thing. Until now, I hadn’t realized either that my comment go under SSG and not Claudia. I guess in my mind SSG and Claudia are one and the same. And since all my social networks are connected, I also guess for all purposes, I am using my real name as it didn’t take long for everybody here to start calling me Claudia instead of SSG, and I didn’t even blink.
What’s even funnier (or not, depending on how you look at it) is that Petrilli is not my maiden name either. I – too, fled my country and married a guy, although for a slightly different purpose. But I was and I guess still am, hiding from a stalker. Only that my stalker is my past. My memories. The ghost of my father.
Hmmm, this is turning into a post on itself…
Anyway. as usual I digresss… damn ADD
WELCOME!!! Even if I thought you were a Canvas author already. YAY!
Thank you (again!) 🙂 Actually I never knew whether to call you SSG or Claudia on your blog. Now I do. And you know, stalkers take all types of guises, including ghosts. They’re good to hide from.
I respond to both. Especially if I get treats for doing so 😉
Wonderful! Nice to meet you Cate Reddell 🙂
I use Jared, because that is how my name is pronounced – but not how it is spelt. I am the only person I have ever found on the internet with ‘Jared’ spelt the way it is spelt for me. For me it is more about being sensitive to my kids (most importantly) and remaining anonymous online for my employees. Google “Jared” and you get millions of hits, Google “######” and you get only a handful of hits … and they are all me 🙂
I prefer to discuss my mental illness with my kids when the time is right and when ‘individually’ they have the maturity to understand.
As far as employees go, it is not so much stigma I am concerned about, it is more to do with keeping work at work (they get enough of me!) and my private life private.
Enjoyed seeing your view and so happy for Team Canvas to have YOU on board.
I Jared. Thanks for the welcome. Your reasons make perfect sense to me and obviously being sensitive to what is right for your kids is so important.
I know you and I have talked some about this, and I’ve also just talked about it generally, but my reasons for starting out with a pseudonym were kind of the reverse of most people’s. By the time I did finally “come out”, Ruby was just how everyone knew me. I’m also kind of attached to it because I chose it, I spent a good deal of time blogging with just my username before I came up with it. I feel like, if people really listen to the lyrics of the song from which I took it, they know a little more about the person I am straight off the bat.
Then of course there’s the part of me that’s a bit conflicted, because I do feel like I am perpetuating a myth of shame and hiding for myself, things which are completely non-existent in my mind. So I compromise by having myself “out” with my real name (of course never the last, for my own reasons) and picture on my author page, and that suits me. But I am so proud of you for using yours openly, for refusing to let anyone else, any fear constrict or define you. I guess that’s really what I’m doing by writing with Ruby and being permanently visible as Stephanie — I am making my choices as to how I want to define me.
I can only say I can’t imagine what living in that kind of fear for all of those years must have been like. I don’t know if I would have borne up. I had one brief, fairly intense experience with what was primarily cyber-stalking (someone I knew in real life, though), and I went to pieces. You are one amazing lady, and I am so glad to have you writing with us. ♥
Somehow I nearly missed your comment. I’m new to this… that’s my claim anyway. 😉 One thing I’m realising is that names are very personal, whether they are our own or whether we choose them for some reason. I don’t think there is a wrong way to do it. I like how you use both names.
I enjoyed your first post here, Cate
I kind of use a pseudo. Cat is not my name, but it is what most people call me. I choose to remain anonymous mainly to protect my abusers. I wanted to talk openly in my blog about childhood abuse without jeopardising the identity of other people.
good lord, how awful. thanks for sharing such a personal and terrifying experience that you had to deal wiht.
Thanks Carrie. It’s sure not something I would wish on anyone. I’m just glad it’s in the past. 🙂
Hi Cate, welcome to Canvas. I mostly blog on here being called “Faith”, but am starting to use my real name more often. Part of my reasoning though is because I’m a novice in an Anglican religious order and I wanted to try to keep some things private, or “claustral” as we say in community. But I realised I was naming the order and so it seemed a bit daft not to name myself.
I look forward to hearing more from you in the future.
Hi Faith. It’s nice to meet you. Sometimes we get ourselves so mixed up in trying to be private. It becomes a full time occupation. What you’re doing sounds like it makes perfect sense.
A terribly belated Welcome-to-Team-Canvas! Glad to see you writing with us here – I admire your courage to use your real name. 🙂
Thanks DeeDee. 🙂