The Duality of Michea(ae)l

I have a confession... my name isn't really Micheal. Well, it is, but it isn't. I'll explain!

The Duality of Michea(ae)l
Notice anything different? 🕵🏾‍♂️

Honesty Hour

I have a confession... my name isn't really Micheal. Well, it is, but it isn't. I'll explain!

Micheal is such a common name and I low-key hate it. Not the name Micheal and not that my name is Micheal but that there are so many other people named Micheal too. According to my mother, that's why she spelled my name "Micheal" (e before a) instead of "Michael" (the most common spelling). She told me she chose this unique spelling to deliberately set me a part in a sea of Michaels. Unfortunately for her, most people don't pay enough attention to detail to notice such a subtle difference and despite my Mom spelling it "Micheal" on her copy of my birth certificate, whoever entered it with the State spelled it "Michael" - so, that is how my name is "officially" spelled and my mom just never had the time, money, and/or energy to get it changed. Regardless, my mom has always spelled my name "Micheal" and she taught me to do the same.

My unofficial birth certificate.
The birth certificate issued by the hospital.

When I went to school and spelled my name the way my mom taught me on my assignments, my teachers would reprimand me for spelling my name wrong and make me spell it 'Michael'. Then, I'd take my homework home to get signed by my mom & she would reprimand me for not spelling my name the way she taught me, lol. Ever since I was little, this seemingly small split in how I knew my name created a small split in my personality and behaviors. It created a duality that has followed me all the way to present day where who I present to the official, formal world is "Michael" but who I truly know myself to be on the inside is "Micheal". "Michael" always felt like the more presentable part of my identity. The part that is well adjusted to the outside world while "Micheal" has always felt a bit out of place. "Michael" is the thinker - logical, rational, practical, & reasonable. "Micheal" is the feeler - emotional, empathetic, spiritual, & artistic. This early lesson in contradiction — being forced to juggle who I was at home with who the world expected me to be — mirrored the broader complexities of my identity I'd grapple with into adulthood.

I'm willing to bet that you've felt conflicted about your identity at some point too. Until we become more consciously aware, our identities are things we've inherited as opposed to things we've created. And for most of us, our identity starts with our names. A big part of the beef between my mother and father when I was born was that my father wanted me to have his last name, "Hunter," while my mother didn't think he deserved it. My father's three other children all have the last name "Hunter," but my last name is "Irby," which meant that whenever I spent time with my father's side of the family, I felt like the odd man out. I felt that I wasn't really a part of that side of my family and certain experiences I had with them further exacerbated that divide. One experience that comes to mind immediately is a situation where I was with my father's mother for the weekend with her and my younger half-brother. I was probably 10 or 11, and my younger brother was probably 8 or 9. He was upset with me about something, and to get revenge, he lied and told our grandmother that I'd sprayed bug spray in his mouth. My grandmother responded by telling me that if I didn't behave, she would have to take me home.

I remember how deeply hurt I was by this entire situation, in part because my brother had lied on me, but in larger part because the response to this lie was that I would effectively be excommunicated from the family. The threat of being sent away for misbehavior was deeply wounding, not because of the alleged act, but because it symbolized my conditional place among the 'Hunters.' I'm sure it wasn't my grandmother's intention at the time, but her words made me feel like I wasn't a part of their family. I was an outsider who was just temporarily visiting and who could have his access revoked at any moment. And that experience really set the tone for the type of relationship, or lack thereof, that I've had with my father's side of the family ever since.

It Was Written in the Stars

I've spent most of my life very skeptical of astrology, but my sentiment towards it changed drastically when I was led to a video on YouTube last year. In the video, a woman was describing the personality traits of Cancers, and I was moved to tears by how deeply seen I felt by this person who didn't even know I existed. It was insane. I honestly have never felt so understood by anyone in my life as I did through hearing the words of this blonde-haired stranger through my computer's speakers. That experience alone gave me conviction that there must be something to this astrology thing and prompted me to start studying astrology a bit more. Through my research, I learned that my ascendant sign is Gemini, which provided even more much-needed context to why I've always felt and expressed myself the way I do.

The video that blew my mind and really opened me up to Astrology.

My identity has always felt divided in half, if I'm being honest, which tracks because Geminis are known for their duality—having split, almost opposing personality traits. Sometimes they appear extroverted, outgoing, and social, while at other times they are introspective and to themselves. This dynamic describes my past social behavior and my present social behavior to a tee. I used to identify as being an extrovert, loving going out, being in the mix, being known, being seen, and being a part of the scene. But these days, you'd be hard-pressed to find me out anywhere after sunset, especially not places where there's loud music and/or a large group of people. I'm a very deep thinker—I've always enjoyed my thoughts, which unfortunately makes me very susceptible to overthinking. But I'm also a very deep feeler. Both my Sun and Moon signs are Cancer, and I must admit, I am, in many ways, a stereotypical Cancer. Feeling has always felt more true to me than thinking, but thinking has always felt safer to me than feeling, so my whole life I've oscillated between choosing what seems safe and what feels true.

This war between my head and my heart has been an overarching theme for most of my life. My head(s) would often get me into situations that my heart couldn't really handle. By college, I'd likened myself to be a "savage." This was around the time that the rapper Webbie made his motto, "Savage Life," popular in the urban lexicon. And since so much of masculinity at that time was based on one's capacity to conquer women, "Savage Life" would often be something my male compatriots and I would say in regards to our nefarious dealings with the opposite sex. My older brother started calling himself "Captain Savage," and I, refusing to be left out or outdone, started referring to myself as "Randy Savage"—a double entendre serving as both a nod to my favorite professional wrestler growing up and a declaration of the fact that my flavor of savagery was rooted in horniness. And though I did a good job of projecting this image of someone who only cared about his own desires on the surface, deep down I always felt empathy and shame for misleading or manipulating women to get what I wanted from them.

Once in college, I kinda (kinda because I wasn't technically in a relationship 😅) cheated on someone, thinking I was living up to the "savage" persona I'd convinced myself that I was, but once I sobered up and realized what I had done, I spent the entire next day, literally like 15 hours straight, crying in bed, grief-stricken, completely devastated that I'd intentionally hurt someone I loved and disgusted with myself for doing it. Pretending that I could easily disregard the feelings of others is a defense mechanism my ego created as a boy to protect itself, but the truth is, I've always cared deeply for other people's feelings. The truth is, I'm really not built for intentionally hurting people and despite how I may have made it look at the time, I promise you that I have suffered for every pain that I have caused another.

Pick a side!

In our polarized society, it seems like now, more than ever, we're expected to pick a side and stick to it. But I feel like this is one of the most inhumane expectations to hold for people because to be human is to be filled with contradictions. The traits we typically judge most harshly in others are usually traits that we hold ourselves. One of my most commonly used phrases back in my college days was "these hoes" when referring to women in general - but in reality, I was the hoe, not the women I was dealing with. I would have never publicly been associated with a woman who was known to be overtly promiscuous, but at the time, my whole personality was based on being overtly promiscuous. This hypocrisy continued even when I started to become more spiritual. Like many other people, I initially fell into the trap of spiritual narcissism - that is, believing myself to be better than other 'less woke' people who were not awakened to the spiritual reality of the physical world. I was using my newfound spiritual knowledge to bypass the very real reality of suffering that the majority of people experience on a daily basis. A contradiction because at the very root of true spirituality is compassion for the human condition. And whether we want to accept it or not, a core part of the human condition is our habit of contradicting ourselves.

In my opinion, we contradict ourselves so much because we don't really know who we are, as the models we've created to define ourselves are much too small to encapsulate the fullness of our being. It should be no secret by this point that I'm a very sensitive person, and sensitivity is typically viewed as a feminine trait. I will admit that sensitivity is one of the ways femininity expresses itself through me. I also have an affinity for love, affection, tenderness, emotion, purples, pinks, flowers, and more of the softer aspects of life, but to be honest, inwardly I feel very masculine. I enjoy being a man, and if I were given the conscious choice, I think I would always choose to be a man in every life. But at the same time, I don't really like male energy or hanging around dudes like that. When it comes to company, I definitely prefer being around women, but that is likely due to the fact that I feel like women allow me to be a whole human, whereas men typically expect me to be a "man", that is, to fit in a very small and defined box of expressions that are typically acceptable for men.

These days I aspire to be a legitimate gentleman, as I feel like that word perfectly encapsulates a man who has found balance in his masculine and feminine energies. A man who can be both firm and soft. Assertive and receptive. Strong and gentle. Secure and open. Disciplined and playful. Convicting and compassionate. Intellectual and intuitive.

So Much In A Name, So Much More In You

There's really no identity in a name—that's why we recycle them. A name is just a label for a being to be identified by others, but a being is not its name. Apparently, I didn't even have a name until after I was born. My mom said she was debating between Rafael and Micheal, and my middle name was almost Saint Clair instead of Sinclair. I find it funny that my mom was determined to name me after a ninja turtle but later realized that the names she was deciding between also happen to be the names of two Archangels. What's even more interesting is that I resonate deeply with the personality of the ninja turtle, Michelangelo, as he is a goofy, fun-loving, creative jokester. And I also resonate deeply with the traits of Archangel Michael, being a spiritual warrior and a servant of the light, protective of his loved ones, and dedicated to dispelling darkness from the world. So, while I do hold my position that there's no identity in a name, our names certainly help to shape our identities. Our names lay the foundation for how others know us and for how we know ourselves.

It's not a coincidence that another word for name is "handle," as our names are how we are controlled on this plane. But it's important to remember that someone calling your name is a request, not a demand, and you're not obligated to answer to any name that doesn't resonate with who you feel yourself to be on the inside. Many people who've undergone a spiritual awakening have changed their names because they no longer feel like the name they were born with represents who they now know themselves to be. And while I don't personally think it's necessary to go that far, I do feel that you should never let your name become a prison. I really respect the women who get married but refuse to change their last names because they don't want to lose their personal identity, but I can also respect being so committed to another person that you want your identity to be merged with theirs. It really just comes down to what feels best and most true to you. You are the only person who will ever know yourself fully, and therefore, the most important names you have are the ones you call yourself.

Growth Challenge

Name Reflection: Spend some time reflecting on your name. Research its origins, meanings, and, if possible, ask your parents why they chose it for you. Consider how your name has influenced your identity. Don't limit this to only your official name, also take nicknames into consideration.

After your research is done, take some time to answer the following questions in your journal:

  1. Do you like your name? Why or why not?
  2. If you could choose any name, what would it be?
  3. What is your favorite nickname and why?
  4. What is you least favorite nickname and why?
  5. How does your name make you feel in different settings? (e.g., with family, at work, among friends) Reflect on whether your name affects your confidence or the way you perceive yourself in various social contexts.
  6. How do you feel when people mispronounce or misspell your name? Reflect on the emotions and thoughts this evokes, and why it matters to you.
  7. If your name has a particular meaning, do you feel it reflects your personality or character? Discuss any correlations or discrepancies between your name’s meaning and who you are.
  8. Do you judge other people by their names? Does someone's name impact your first impression of them?

Further Study

There are many, many tools out there for helping us to understand who we are. As I mentioned before, astrology is something that I've always been skeptical of but have recently had to accept that there has to be some truth behind it because of how deeply I resonate with the traits of my signs.

For this weeks' further study, I invite you to pull your birth chart and just read over it. Again, I totally understand being skeptical and definitely don't think astrology is, in any way, the authoritative source for learning about yourself but I definitely think it's a useful tool for self-exploration because even if you disagree with everything your chart says about you, it will, at the very least, make you think and reflect on how you see yourself. Below is my Sun, Moon, and Ascendant signs - based on what you know about me, do you think the descriptions are accurate? 👀

And you can head over to Co-Star to get your chart!

I'm really a super Cancer 😩

What's Going On With Me + Fun Fact About Me

Since the theme of this month is all about exploring our identities, I thought it'd be interesting to share a fun fact about myself each week. And since this newsletter highlighted some of my contradictions and dualities, I figured it'd be on theme to share some internal contradictions I have surrounding food.

  1. I love pickles but HATE cucumbers
  2. I love pizza but HATE cheese
  3. I don't eat meat, but I do eat fish
  4. I would never willingly eat mayo unless I'm eating a tuna sub
  5. I love to eat but only eat one "real" meal a day

What's Going On With Me

I feel like I've finally made it out of a dark tunnel that I've been journeying through since the fall of last year. I wouldn't call it a depression but more like a process of awakening. The thing about the journey of self-discovery is that it really never ends. To be honest, I thought I'd gotten to "the bottom" of my identity back in 2019 but what I've learned since then is that there really is no bottom to identity. Many of us spiritual people believe that one day we are going to arrive at the finish line of truth where everything will make sense and there will be no more work to do. But what I'm discovering is that there is no finish line. Life, consciousness, and the soul are constantly evolving. And to be content in life is not to reach the finish line, per se, but rather to fully accept and embrace the fact that there is no finish line.

What I can say for sure is that I've evolved, I'm still evolving, and that I really enjoy the being that I'm discovering myself to be. I'm really excited to confront the new devils this new level has in store for me 😈

Diving Into The Depths of Self

The theme of this month's newsletters is "Diving Into the Depths of Self" and in each newsletter this month, we're going to explore a different aspect of our identities with a goal to get closer to the core of Self. I hope that this newsletter helped to lay the groundwork for you to begin to explore your own name, the dualities and contradictions that exist in you, and how these elements contribute to the rich tapestry of your unique identity. As we continue to dive deeper in the coming weeks, I invite you to reflect on the stories, beliefs, and experiences that have shaped you. I'm really looking forward to deconstructing our beliefs about ourselves and getting to the essence of our being together.

With love,

Michea(ae)l Rafael Randy Savage Sinclair Saint-Clair Hunter Irby 😂💜