Name Change: The Last Acquiescence

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:

  1. That spousal support have a specific end date with no modifications.
  2. That spousal support end if I cohabit with another. (non-marriage)
  3. 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.

 

 

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Grieve Divorce, It’s Real

Is it the family times I miss, all of us together or do I miss my former marriage? I’ve thought a lot about this and have come to a semi-conclusion.

I miss the hell outta my family.

My kids are older, young adults now. The great memories of my family, kids growing up, far supersede the negative. While that’s a beautiful thing, thereby the grieving so deeply entrenched as I continue moving forward.

Does estrangement make a difference?

If I were to talk, connect with my kids now, how much of a difference would it make in terms of my grieving process? I think a lot about this as well. Interestingly enough, ex (I really dislike that term – perhaps former…) and I still communicate, mostly about our children. At the same time, there was a time, he truly was my best friend. Which begs the question:

What the hell happened?

After almost thirty years together the reasons are endless. Well, the small ones anyway. More pertinent reasons involve love, acceptance, tolerance and respect. Pretty heavy shit. And somewhere along the road of my marriage, I began feeling very little of this from my former. This is not to say I held no responsibility on my part. Our demise is much greater than behavior alone.

A side note…

I have purposely decided to not write about the man I now love. He is his own man, has his own life and I am not quite ready to share. I’m discovering the further along my own journey continues, so are our lives intersected. That is its own story I will share soon. His story is a familiar one very much like mine. Grieving is a process that must come at its own time on its own terms.

Let the grieving continue. I don’t know where exactly I am in my own process yet I know I’m still grieving. Fighting it is moot. The sad feelings will never dissipate until/unless I allow myself to feel.

How does one know if they are wallowing or merely grieving after divorce?

My answer lies in healing. Awareness is part of healing. And I am acutely aware of who I am now, what my family means to me and where I want to go. And so I carry on, write here, share myself, listen to others. An open mind leaves room for more healing. As painful as this process continues, so am I able to help others. I think that is where I long to be.

Belief is in the Behavior

“What I believe is not what I say I believe; what I believe is what I do.
― Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality

Sometimes a quote jumps out, throws you to the ground and rattles your senses. The above quote by Donald Miller did just that today.

God (not Him) I think I’m really getting it. What I DO, how I LIVE life, this is what is changing in me. It is not what I say. My words, the words written here – the extension of HOW I have chosen to live my life.

For so long, a myriad of years, the focus on what to say, the explanation of my beliefs, thoughts and feelings came first. Behavior nary considered as it never occurred the two were joined together: there is little growth within until one begins to LIVE their beliefs. The hypocrisy of Christianity, always I’ve questioned. I have a greater understanding of why this bothers me so. How one says they believe in a God yet lives their life without a thought of WHY they believe, thus shown by the paradox of their actions.

I think I now understand this in terms of my affairs. It is difficult if not impossible to live a life of beliefs if one isn’t sure what one believes in. I never questioned my choice of having affairs because I didn’t THINK – I REACTED to the circumstances of my life. Belief starts with thought as is must. THOUGHT precedes everything else for how is one to know what to believe if one doesn’t think? There is freedom in thought. I am just discovering the beauty of this. The manifestation of my beliefs are shown in my behavior. There is so much more room for thought, new questions, more insight. The energy picks up, allowing me new opportunities to LIVE my life as I believe.

New Realities, New Growth

I am not certain which hurts more: no contact with my kids or my ex-husband’s disinterest in helping me. My own new realities are coming to light about the man I was married to. He, I’m sure, must feel the same. His trust, the entire core of who he is, destroyed by my actions. I continue surrendering this, though have come to a place where I can only take responsibility for my contribution to my marriage, the positive, the negative. There is a new kind of pain I feel, one which is separate from the estrangement with my children. It is more deep than I realized.

What has come to my attention most of all is his lack of compassion. Or perhaps, the kind of compassion I need. Then again, I find myself still justifying his character, diminishing my own feelings. Kids, do not try this at home. I’m still learning…

Having compassion does not require one to forget hurt, pain that is caused. It is putting oneself in the other’s shoes. I have done this many times. Still not enough. The more compassion I feel for him, especially my girls, I am better able to forgive myself. I had hoped he could do the same. He loved me as best as he could. He is hurt and angry. I am hurt by his lack of care or concern, his dismissal of me. And this is my truth. He has argued this point before and I’ve allowed myself to feel as if it is my problem, all in my head, though it is not. It is my heart that is filled with sorrow, as I did not realize this until recently.

Why am I continually stunned by this? It is not to say he was unloving our entire relationship. Nor was he always distant. All of what happens in a long-term marriage is gradual, an extension of previous behaviors and patterns. I see now that the last three or four years of my marriage were the beginning of what would then become our downfall.

This is not about us, this is about our them, our children.

Time moves forward. My love for my kids grows ever so deeply despite the distance between us. I strive to work together, a new-found partnership with the father of my kids. They are our children. We have raised them as the beautiful people they have become. If I felt I could not approach him for help when married, how am I to approach him now?  We are not able to work together for the benefit of them, working to heal a fragmented family left with deep emotional wounds. I can not force his help. He must want to work with me. If not, nothing I can do. I am, however, viewing my life from new perspectives, willing to continually look at myself, eyes, heart and mind wide open. Below is an excerpt of something I came upon that speaks directly to what I feel….an incredibly profound lesson. Grateful to find this:

“Some marriages do not recover from affairs.  There are scores of couples who realize that the reasons that led to the affair, or the affair itself is too much for the marriage to tolerate.  Divorce happens.  It is a harsh reality.  This by no means serves as an excuse to neglect the emotional well-being of the child(ren) involved.  Regardless if a marriage ends or not, the adult relationship should still be strengthened when children are involved.   Parenting is a partnership.  Even when parents divorce, they are not divorcing the children.   They both still have a commitment to their children that should be fulfilled regardless of the marital status.

The third and probably most important thing that parents can do after an affair is work together for the benefit of the child(ren).   Whether or not parents stay married they still have a relationship; a parenting relationship.  In these cases when divorce is imminent, the cheated on spouse may have difficulty getting beyond their own hurt and sometimes the spouse who cheated does not make this any easier.  If there was ever a time to becomes less self-absorbed it is when children are hurting.  That is not the time to focus on one’s ego.  This is possibly the hardest lesson that any couple healing from an affair has to face.  Their pain plays second to the pain of their children.”  Kirsten Person-Ramey