At some point when I was a child my parents explained to me that my name, Jason, means healer. I remember my brother and I would often discuss this meaning as well as the meaning of his name, Michael, who is like the lord. He would insist that Michael was a superior name to Jason because essentially, it was on the same level as being named God or Jesus. There isn’t really much of way for an educated adult to argue with this logic and as a child I had very little to use against it. All I could really say in the end was something like, “well, my name means that I am like Jesus too because I can heal sick people.” These arguments were petty and my explanation would always be enough for both of us. Sometimes though, we also thought about it in more realistic terms. My name probably meant that I was destined to be a doctor who would literally heal the sick. This prospect didn’t seem negative since I was already somewhat aware of the nice salary connected with being a doctor.
It wasn’t until years later when I was in high-school that someone older and wiser re-framed the meaning of my name for me.
There was a point where I was going through some rough patches that, coincidentally, were directly connected to the recent issues I have had in my life, and I was talking to this friend about the difficulties I was going through. She asked me if I was aware of what my name meant, because that was important. I told her I was and I told her what it meant. Immediately she got excited and physically leaned towards me.
“That is amazing! Do you understand what that means? That means that your parents gave you a blessing from birth so you could get through this. Jason, you are a healer. You are capable of moving past these problems. It is your identity.”
Strangely, in my whole young life I had never considered this reversed understanding of my name. I had never realized that it also meant I was capable of healing myself. Maybe equally as strange is that I immediately thought of Claire.
Claire is a character from Heroes, which is a Television series my college roommate and I became obsessed with during our freshmen year. The show is all about normal people in society who suddenly evolve to a higher level and develop abilities. Fundamentally, the basis of the show is very similar to the premise of X-Men. But anyway, Claire is a high-school cheerleader who discovers that she has the ability to heal. This means that she can cut off her appendages, jump from skyscrapers, run through fire, and really do anything harmful to herself with the ability to quickly return to her original state. She is in a very real sense, invincible.
As a direct result of watching Claire and the other members from the Heroes cast develop their abilities, my roommate and I began to pretend that we and our friends were developing similar traits. We created a whole imaginative narrative about our lives and the lives of those we associated with us. One specific moment in this fake narrative was when my roommate had his wisdom teeth removed. Very shortly after the surgery was done, his stitches fell out. This of course meant that he was taking on Claire’s abilities and his body was rapidly healing itself. Similarly, I had a wisdom tooth removed a while later and when I went back to the dentist for a follow-up a week later he said with wonder in his voice, “It is as if it was never even there!” In our imaginary world, I took this to mean that I as well had developed Claire’s power. My roommate and I were becoming healers, we were becoming invincible.
But, there is a drawback. Every time Claire completes one of her impossible feats, she still feels all of the pain. She can’t stop feeling.
I still felt pain too. I still feel pain.
Recently, my world has caved in around me. Everything I really believed in and trusted–regardless of whether it was rational or intelligent– betrayed me. Now, I have been forced to reevaluate everything about who I am and what I believe. It isn’t pleasant, it isn’t comfortable, it is incredibly painful.
I have realized how unhappy I really am underneath the well maintained image I have worked hard to develop. The person that I have been portraying hasn’t been honest, at least not wholly. In many ways I have been deeply hiding within a false persona, someone that I always thought was ideal regardless of whether he was really me or made me happy. I have realized how much of my identity was derived from others and how I have created most of my value from the traits I admire in them.
So who am I?
I don’t know.
My name is Jason. It means healer.
Right now, at this little low point in my life, I’m trying so very hard to focus on understanding exactly what that means.
I’m trying very hard to be more honest and a big part of that has to do with the person I present to those I associate with. For reasons that I understand and likely wouldn’t make sense to many other people, I removed the piercings I had. They were part of the “ideal” person that I have endeavored so hard to become. They were ways to draw attention to myself, to convey a certain idea of who I am. I have realized though, as much as I loved those little metal studs, that that person who really loved them, that person isn’t me.
I just took them out a couple days ago now. I haven’t thrown them out and I could probably attempt to put them back in. Though honestly, I don’t really know if it would be possible anymore.
You see friends, I am like Claire. My body heals itself and it does it quickly. New skin has already begun to grow over the holes where those piece of metal once were. Soon the insides of those holes will begin to grow back and in a month there will probably be little more than tiny surface scars where those holes use to be.
Perhaps, in a way, I am really invincible too.