“If it isn’t Nutty Naughty Nasty Natty.” I had to laugh when I heard this greeting. My god-father hadn’t said those words for 25 years. I had grown up and had long ago moved passed the crazy nicknames of childhood. Or so I thought. It started as “Natty ding batty” most likely before the terrible twos and three’s and by the four’s it morphed into the addition of naughty and nasty.
My aunt was the first to call me the puler. She would say “Natty’s puling again.” Leave it to an eccentric old aunt to pull that word out of the now-obsolete-words-dictionary. I never knew until I was much older that puler (pew-ler) was one who whines in a wailing mournful way. What a great sounding word, it kinda sounds like a whine as it rolls off the tongue.
My nicknames continued to morph as I grew. My family moved to Alaska when my mother died a few months before my 9th birthday. In one summer, I lost my mother in a horrendous crime, moved to a new state with a father I barely knew and lost my dog. When I started 4th grade I forgot how to read. I guess the naughty and nasty grew out of the land mines in my path.
I was called gnat for a while but always pronounced guh-nat because I must have been a pest. Well, that is certainly a much shorter name than the 4N’s my god-father used.
I thank God for Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her book “Little House in the big woods” saved me. I suddenly found a world I could wrap around me like a cocoon to leave the realities of an abusive house. In one summer I went from 1st grade reading to 12th grade reading. That is a sure indication of the need to escape into the worlds that I read about. I tuned out everyone. The names became a dull noise in my life that I thought didn’t bother me. I went with the flow because I had learned how to continue the story after the book was done. I lived in my imagination.
My nickname morphed into Natalie Noodle Nose. Or Nude, if it was a friend talking. I once wrote a blog here called living under the radar. I thought I was surviving. I thought I was going with the flow and would laugh it off. One day my brother called me Bitch. Between the boys that became my name and I remember thinking “they want a bitch? I’ll be the best one they’ve ever seen.”
Maintaining a mental bunker takes more energy than I had so I found out that rage was easier and gave me a strength I used to harden the walls that kept me safe. The funny thing about rage is that soon it becomes a cage and I become a slave to a master I couldn’t control.
God had a way to find the cracks in my wall and bit by bit His Grace broke through and I let go of the chains. Jesus loved me, and I knew I was safe to leave my bunker-turned-prison.
The thing about wounds is that a piece of shrapnel can be hidden for years. Almost 8 yrs later I was attending Trinity Bible College and met a new student that had come from Alaska. She knew me. I barely remembered her. She was from “those years” when I walked through the land mines in a fog. She laughed and said “Hey, it’s Natalie Noodle Nose.”
Nasty Natty rose up like a bitch to expose shrapnel that needed to come out. I turned to her, looked her dead in the eyes, and in a voice I didn’t recognise said “If you call me that again, I will kill you.” I turned and walked away stunned by the rage that choked me. Also ashamed that when I said those words, I meant it.
Oh dear God, where did this evil come from? I ran to the chapel and wept. How could I say that I loved Jesus and had a murderer’s heart? A name that I had not heard in 7 years cut me open like a scalpel to allow God to remove the shrapnel that remained.
I did find her again and asked her to forgive me, just as God forgave me. I once had a self-righteousness that made me think I was above the “big” sins like murder. I am afraid to admit that I am not. I am capable of more evil than I know, and am thankful that God has saved me. I still walk through the minefields of this world, but He is with me. He still needs to pull out shrapnel when others around me blow up.
Perhaps one day, when all the shrapnel from this life is finally removed, I can once again be the happy Natty Ding Batty I once was before I stepped on a land mine.