What’s in a name? Plenty. It was stipulated in the settlement. At the time I agreed to change my name, didn’t give it much thought, being I was merely gasping for breath while staying afloat during those mediation sessions months prior.
He asked for 3 specific things in our divorce:
- That spousal support have a specific end date with no modifications.
- That spousal support end if I cohabit with another. (non-marriage)
- That I change my name.
Thing is, he didn’t really ask, he insisted, never inquired how I felt or made an attempt to actually discuss his reasons why this was so important to him. And to be fair, I was not in a place where I questioned very much at that time. I accepted his requests, albeit with quiet resentment.
Why did I agree to change my name back to my maiden name?
Quickest answer: acquiescence. Changing my name was my homage – my last acquiescence of my marriage. And there were a LOT of them.
That’s my responsibility. We all have a voice. Some use them more effectively than others. Being how I was raised, combined with genetic make-up, throw in deeply rooted self-esteem issues and you’ve got yourself a loving if not fearful woman, hesitant to speak her mind and raise conflict herself and others.
My grieving would come much later post-divorce. There is no statute of limitations for changing one’s name in divorce. I found this out last year when I was so overwrought I wrote our mediator and copied in my ex. Our mediator assured me that though my name was legally changed, I would still need a notarized copy of our judgement for social security, DMV and all other government documentation. Thus it wasn’t until early this year, 13 months post-divorce I walked into a social security office one day and began the process.
I believe the name change was important to my former husband because of his own hurt and pain. Perhaps he wanted to literally cut me out of his life, name and all. I was hyphenated during my marriage, as I never wanted to give up my maiden name completely. To him, all that was needed was to drop his name and go back to who I was. Yeah, not so much.
For me, the grief continues, in parallel to grieving the loss of my daughters. Maybe I would’ve eventually changed my name, I don’t know. Maybe if not estranged from my girls, I would feel differently. Either way, I would’ve chosen to make the change during my own process, in my own time. Or not at all.
Today I am proud of my given name, though grieve my married name, the symbolic moniker of my former life. I have worked hard to get here, to this place of serenity. I have had to let go of my girls and my married name. It is not due to any heroic triumph nor do I fall victim to letting go. I allow the pain when it comes and am finding my own methodology to all this, still, each and every moment.