The Unnaming By Kristen Roderick

I am so please to introduce Kristen Roderick this beautiful Monday morning! She is a woman after my own heart. Bending and folding through time to better understand herself and other women. Her writing is fresh and raw. It’s boldness opens inside of me, shedding light of understanding. It leaves me wanting more. I know you’ll enjoy her.



The Unnaming Kristen Roderick

The Unnaming

My Name once shaped my identity, determined how I dressed, the people in my life, my conduct, my choices, and helped me to survive. I stated, “This is Who I Am” by presenting a job title, a role, an affiliation, a business – as though this definition was my contribution, my only way to have a place. I owned it and I was proud of it.

And yet, there are times when our Name eclipses who we are. Crowds the process of becoming. And we need to let it go. Let go of the safety net that is our Name.

Perhaps it is our cultural inheritance – a legacy of fear of being orphaned with no Name to call our own. In a world of carefully measured progress, “I don’t know” for full-grown adults is not an option but a crime worthy of rejection – Lost Souls whose potential dwindles with the memory of what once was.

As I am further away from the Name that once defined me, I am learning to be comfortable in the unknown. Initially, I felt ashamed, with no response to the inevitable “what do you do?” In The World Out There, there is a sense of being invisible, powerless. Over time, though, I am coming to accept it like the shedding of a skin, getting used to the feeling of being naked, exposed.

Unnamed and naked

When I first left my job, I considered going back to university. Throwing myself fully into the education system seemed like a good option. Explaining to colleagues that I am leaving to go back to school is a respectable choice. It’s easier than saying I’m leaving to heal. It’s easier than confronting my life, full on, to face the emptiness that replaces a job and career.

Time for healing, time for unlearning, time for re-defining, time to allow the dark, murky space of the unknown to envelope me until a new truth emerges. There are no words, no language to explain this. This country has no Name.

My plans for going back to school haven’t worked out, and my dreams at night confirm that school is not my path, at least not for now. I’m realizing this is all part of the letting go, where institutional authority has no place.

My education won’t be found in the lecture hall, but I am finding it through my prayers to the goddess, in the circle of women who support me, from the wizened elder in my dreams, and in the words and stories written in my journal – those intimate bits of wisdom, forever a part of me.

Alone with the pieces of an old life that will never fit back together again the same way, I am constantly in a state of flux – the push and pull of my feelings trying to keep me here, or pull me out. But the hierarchy of unspoken milestones and social roles cannot define me in this place. Authenticity doesn’t find us that way.

Longing in my heart

The recognition I once sought from others can never truly fill the longing in my heart. It cannot relieve me from my struggle; it cannot make me whole. There is something else worth waiting for.

A new paradigm, a new story, a new home, a new mythology is unfolding. A new life is coming, and it has yet to claim its Name.

Kristen Roderick is a writer, social researcher/evaluator, and community convener. She is interested in the use of stories in the process of empowerment and social change, and in storytelling in the transitions of women’s lives. You can find her at her blog, or on Facebook at She lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband.

Do you see parts of your life being deconstructed-even your very identity- to make way for the new? 

20 thoughts on “The Unnaming By Kristen Roderick”

  1. Thank you for sharing Kristen’s beautiful words and thoughts here Jodi. It’s funny, last week I applied for a Masters degree program and then realized I was doing it not because I wanted to learn what the program offered, but rather, because I wanted it to ‘complete’ me.

    I am complete.

    I love Kristen’s words around ‘letting go’. They were perfect for my heart this morning.

    Louise Gallagher recently posted..What a difference a day makes.My Profile

    1. Yes – I think this automatic or unconscious search for validation is something many of us struggle with, and it’s a hard habit to break! But that doesn’t dissuade us from looking for an inner authority not defined by the rules and opinions of others. Good luck to you on your path!

  2. —The recognition I once sought from others can never truly fill the longing in my heart. It cannot relieve me from my struggle; it cannot make me whole. There is something else worth waiting for–

    Absoltely stunning post….

    Overflowing with wisdom and empowerment.

    Thank you, Kristen & Jodi <3
    My Inner Chick recently posted..Just For The Pure Fun Of ItMy Profile

  3. What a beautiful piece! Thank you, Kristen, and Jodi, too, for hosting.

    Another aspect of what you’ve written about, Kristen, is the way that saying “I’m in transition” became sort of code for “Oh, she doesn’t have a job/career.” And really, do we need to be in transition, anyway? Can we just be wherever we are for however long we want?!

    When someone asks what I do, one of my favorite replies is, “I do so many different things, where do you want me to start?” Then the conversation might go into totally random territory, e.g., “I’m a wannabe race car driver. And Spice Girl.” Or, “I’m a dreamer.”

    Anyway, I’m in total deconstruction mode right now, and loving it! I will say, it’s taking me a while to let go of The Name and be open to future possibilities, but I’m very excited. 🙂
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    1. I love this. A friend of mine recently said something similar. We continually define ourselves by “What We Do” in terms of our jobs, at the cost of never sharing who we really are, what are passions are, what we dream of. This brings to mind “The Invitation” by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. Here is the first stanza, and the entire poem is beautiful:

      “It doesn’t interest me
      what you do for a living.
      I want to know
      what you ache for
      and if you dare to dream
      of meeting your heart’s longing.”
      Kristen recently posted..FierceMy Profile

    1. YES! Especially as we move through the transitions of our lives. There is little patience and understanding through these changes on a broader, societal level, and this is when we need it the most. It’s a comfort to know there are more of us going through these transitions than we think. Hugs to you Beverly!
      Kristen recently posted..FierceMy Profile

  4. Lisa A. McCrohan

    This is absolutely beautiful, Kristen, and it resonates deeply with me!!! I just recently left a really prestigious university and a job I LOVED to follow the movement within me to be more present to my children. People “get” that, it seems like an acceptable reason, even if folks would judge it – it’s still ‘valid.’ But there are so many more reasons for leaving — all have to do with tending to my soul, no longer denying the movement within me to take this risk, and opening to the unknown – knowing I’ll be held. So beautiful. My words about this experience are still swimming and stirring in me. It is beautiful to read your words reflecting – giving “form” to what is swimming in me. Maybe I’ll write about it some time this fall. Blessings, Lisa McCrohan

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Lisa!

      It is interesting what is deemed valid and acceptable and what is not – and yet, regardless of our choice, it seems we are judged one way or another. And so it is a comfort knowing there are sisters in this struggle!

      Best of luck to you as you continue to follow your heart!
      Kristen recently posted..FierceMy Profile

  5. Kristen, thank you so much for your powerful words. I have just recently left a job because I am so broken in spirit that I can no longer function, at work or anywhere else. Your words give me profound hope because I see that perhaps there is more to what I have been going through besides just losing my mind and giving up. I am inspired by you and can see clearly that whatever difficulties my family and I might face because of me leaving work, this is a time of immeasurable growth for me. This is so exciting. I am realising that it is okay for me to have no Name right now because the possibilities are endless when we decide to slough off the Names that are not working for us… Blessings

    1. Noleen, thank you so much for sharing your story! I totally understand how a job can be devastating to the Soul, which has a ripple effect in all aspects of our lives. From my own experience, I know it takes a tremendous amount of courage – not only to leave, but to face the unknown. We are not taught to follow our passion, our dreams, or our true calling; we are taught to follow a linear path forward at all costs, and so this journey is truly unchartered. Know that you are not alone, and that the way forward will reveal itself when it is meant to. Much love and blessings to you!!
      Kristen recently posted..FierceMy Profile

  6. Kristen and Jodi, Thank you for this beautiful post. I am at a point in my journey where I am questioning my own identity. Right now it is all defined by people and things outside myself. I am slowly realizing that my mission is to heal, however that manifests itself. So far that identity, My identity, hasn’t completely revealed itself and I am becoming more unsatisfied with how I currently define myself. It’s time! Although extremely difficult, it’s time!

  7. This is just lovely! I felt like I was reading a work of art. It reads like poetry, or musical lyrics. Thank you Kristen.

    And I also see myself transforming as I grow and change. I think this is inevitable if we want more out of life.

    1. Thank you for your kind words Keri!! Yes, I think when we embrace our own transformation (because we are all changing whether we like it or not), we have much more freedom to really choose our lives. Good luck to you on your journey!
      Kristen recently posted..FierceMy Profile

  8. This is a nice post, Jodi. Thanks for introducing us to Kristen. The search for identity is a never ending struggle, no matter our age, we’re never quite certain. Maybe part of the reason is we’re all works in progress. Always changing. I’m still discovering things about myself that are new to me. Funny thing about labels and titles. My daughter just started her first job after college. She showed me her new business card and my first reaction was, why is your title missing? Why didn’t they include it in your card. But then she explained, no one has their title on the card. Not even the president of the company. It’s because they’re all working together as a team. So there are no titles to set one apart from the other. Gave me pause.
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    1. What a refreshing thing not to have a title on a business card. As most of us fight for that title, it seems very progressive. Thank you for your comment Monica!
      Kristen recently posted..FierceMy Profile

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