Yesterday I was having a conversation with my husband when I mentioned how much I hate my first name. Now, to clarify, I happen to think I have a beautiful first name! I love the name “Ashley” and I loved the Gone With The Wind character, “Ashley” but I hate trying to say the word, “Ashley.”
It’s so hard!
Now, it’s not hard for normal people. I know, you can probably say, “Ashley” like it’s the simplest word in the whole world. You can probably say, “Ashley” like most people can say “the.” I hated people like you when I was younger. I’ve gotten over that. You’re probably awesome now.
Why did I hate you? Well, because I couldn’t pronounce, “Ashley.” Do you have any idea how crummy it is to not be able to say your own name?!!! People would say, “Oh, hello, and what’s your name?” to me as a little girl and I would just stare back embarrassed because I couldn’t pronounce it. It was hard! I had a speech impediment. I couldn’t make the SH to L transition. I tried but it just didn’t work. I’d either end up saying Ashhhh…….lee or Assley. As you can imagine, I took A LOT of torment for “Ass-ley” when I was kid. Kids are mean. Bullies are mean. Bullies are especially mean to little girls who have speech problems.
Do you want to know what else was really crummy? My speech therapist. She worked for my school and she would come to my classroom every single day and announce, in front of the entire class, “Ashley, it’s time for your speech therapy session.” I was mortified! Every. Single. Day. The entire school knew that I was the nerdy little girl who loved to read and couldn’t talk. I could say most stuff just fine. It wasn’t that I couldn’t talk it was just that I had problems with the “s” and the “sh” sounds and no, it wasn’t a lisp. It was/is an issue with muscle control in my tongue. You have NO idea how many words include “s” and “sh” until you can’t pronounce them. It’s even worse when you try to make the “sh” to “l” transition and find out that your tongue doesn’t want to switch positions and you end up sitting there like an idiot unable to say “Ashley. My name is Ashley.”
I ended up being called a lot of different names. There were the mean kids (Derek, Craig, Danny…I’m looking at YOU guys!) who called me “Ass-ley” and would also tease me about being fat. I wasn’t fat but it kind of went hand-in-hand with being nicknamed “Ass-ley.” Then, there was my friend Phil from speech therapy who couldn’t say “s” at all and turned them into the “g” sound. He called me “Agley.” I didn’t mind that so much. It was a strange name but we understood each other. Then there was Charlie from speech therapy who stuttered. He called me Ash-Li-Lee which is where my internet alias comes from. He died a few years ago. He was a cool cat.
I used to have to wear a little device in my mouth that would hold my tongue in position while I practiced certain sounds and transitions. It was embarrassing and so miserable. I did it for 9 years. My husband says I don’t talk like that anymore and I’ve either overcome it or outgrown it. I’m still super self-conscious when I talk even though he swears I shouldn’t be. I guess it’s one of those things that you just never completely shake.
I can say my name now, I’ve learned how but I still try to avoid introducing myself. I try to put myself in situations where other people can introduce me. It just makes life easier…