I have a unique middle name. I often get asked if it’s real. It is.
I didn’t always have a middle name. I’ve had many names that didn’t feel like me and one day I found a name that encompassed everything I am as a human being and everything I strive to be on daily basis.
I was born as a Mindy Navarrette on a hot July day, to a penniless mother in Carlsbad, New Mexico. After my birth I was shuffled between orphanages and foster care homes, until the summer of 1985 when I was adopted into a family with one of my biological siblings.
I was quickly baptized into the Catholic Church and given a completely new identity as Krista.
Just like that, from one day to the next I was a new person.
In kindergarten I was in trouble constantly, because I could never remember my own name. I slipped up often and would call myself Mindy. I never answered to Krista. If that wasn’t enough, I was thrown into a Spanish speaking kindergarten class and I couldn’t speak the language. I was often bullied by my teacher and the kids around me. Everyone thought I was dumb and mute because I hardly engaged or interacted with anyone. I never knew my place and as a small five-year-old child, I felt the constant dread of treading water because I didn’t understand my new surroundings, my new name or my new familial circumstances. Almost every day of kindergarten I left with little clothes pins stuck to my clothing to indicate how much trouble I had been in for that day. Some days I’d leave with as many as 3 or 4 pins.
As you know from listening to the podcast, I talk a lot about my early childhood experience in Catholicism and the weird off-shoot I was raised in. Catholicism never felt like home to me and I was wounded deeply from a lot of the forced experiences I was pushed into as a young child and young adult.
One day when I was about 18 years old, a priest dialed the house from Australia. I picked up the phone:
“Hello..” the distinct Australian accent responded “Hi this Fr. Taylor from Sydney, who am I speaking with…?” I said, “Hi Father Taylor, this is Krista are you looking for my Mom?” to which he replied “Krista…” trailing off slowly in thought. The silence between us hung heavy as he ingested his thoughts and finally spoke up again saying, “Krista, like Christ…what a weight to carry a name as heavy as that.”
You have no idea I thought.
In fact, my adoptive mother did choose that name because it was an iteration of Christ. Which you can imagine when Krista, the incarnated 1980 version of Christ left the Church at twenty-eight…didn’t really go over so well with my family.
I never felt like Mindy or Krista my whole life.
Mindy was a ghost of a girl whose life had been left behind, in a hospital room to parents she would not know intimately. I never met my biological father but I was able to meet my biological mother later in life and I am deeply grateful for having been able to share space with her.
When I was twenty-six, I got married and my name changed again. This time I had a Caucasian last name. I fought tooth and nail to move my adoptive Hispanic name into a hyphenated last name. I was living in a part of America that was very and still is predominately white. I didn’t want people to anticipate a white woman walking into interviews, or car purchases or spa appointments. I hadn’t even received my college diploma at this point in my life and there was something depressing about my name not being on that piece of paper. My Hispanic heritage was all I could hold onto that felt truly and authentically me at the time.
Moving forward five years, my marriage was in the ending process and I had just started speaking my own truth and aligning myself with who I was as a person and what I wanted to do with my life long-term. At the time it felt like all my puzzle pieces were out of order and some were even on the floor. I looked around to put myself back together like Humpty Dumpty. Part of putting myself back together was finding the right puzzle piece with a name on it that sounded and looked like Me.
I didn’t have a horrible divorce, it wasn’t easy but the man I left behind was a generous, kind-hearted, compassionate, grounded person with whom I trusted and respected deeply. He was the first person I trusted with my new name: Xiomara, a name that is of Spanish descent.
Xiomara means strong, spirited warrior.
My internal strength has always been my anchor and connection to myself. No matter what life has thrown at me, no matter how much suffering I’ve endured, no matter how many failures I’ve had and no matter how many relationships and friendships have ended. I am strong to the core of my being and I believe in my own ability to transmute my suffering into strength and wisdom.
I needed a name that would help me embody everything I was and everything I wasn’t.
I am a spirited person. I am a warrior.
My spirit came here to make this world a kinder, more tolerant and verdant place to thrive—for everyone.
My battle is not on a field or in a country. It is in the mind and heart of everyone.
It is to live a life of example through my life experiences that have brought me back to myself and allowed me to uncover my truth and purpose.
Which is to remove all barriers within myself that make it difficult for me to be at one with myself and to teach others how to remove their own barriers. My battle has been to cut away everything that makes it hard for me, him, her, you to love yourself. My blade of compassion works swiftly to remove those voices inside of anyone that says “You are not enough. You are not lovable.”
My blade, like my spiritual practice reflects to you, the divinity within me that is within you.
One of my favorite philosophers and warriors was Marcus Aurelius, he says “he who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.”
Sometimes our names do have to evolve with our life journey so that we can become aligned and in harmony with ourselves. This was true for me and I have never felt more like myself, than the day after my name changed to Krista Xiomara. I chose to keep my first name as reminder of where I came from because our past creates our future but it does not have to define us.
We can do that for ourselves.