Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Declaration of Independence
Yesterday I reclaimed my maiden name.
I had a lot of well-thought-out reasons for keeping my ex's last name after my divorce. Most of them were related to authenticity and convenience and had nothing to do with him. I stick by those reasons and know it was the right choice for me at the time. I honestly had no plans ever to go back to my family name, but the idea crept up on me at some point during the holiday season. All of a sudden, I felt like my married name wasn't an honest representation of me anymore. It suddenly bothered me to carry the name of someone I have nothing to do with - I wanted to be known as part of my own wonderful family. I thought about the important things I might/hope to do in my life: publish a book, adopt a child, even send out another wedding invitation. I realized I didn't want to do them with his name. He shouldn't get any credit for me. ;) Whatever I might do, I want to do it as my root self.
Once I made the decision, it seemed like a good idea to take a vacation day and tackle all the red tape at once. Yesterday was the soonest I could do it. Because my divorce was final almost a year and a half ago, I had to go downtown to probate court and file a legal change of name. I'd never spoken to a real judge in a real courtroom before (confession: Legally Blonde quotes were rapid-firing through my head the entire time). It was a little unnerving, but overall very easy. I then toted my growing folder of documents to the Social Security office, the DMV, and the bank. In the midst of all that, my mom treated me to a celebratory lunch at TGI Fridays. We even split a Vanilla Bean Cheesecake (one of my all-time favorite desserts).
I feel good and happy about this change, but I dread the inevitable awkward conversations. People out of the loop are assuming I just now got divorced (this is about to include a truckload of co-workers and church people). It's awkward to have to keep saying, "It was a year and a half ago, I'm doing great now." I'm sure it makes me come across as blase, when treating divorce lightly is the last thing I ever want to do. On the other hand, if I'd changed my name right away, I couldn't have handled those conversations. I was still too raw and private and would have cried every time someone asked me. So I guess breeziness is better than falling apart!
For a lot of divorced women, changing their names marks the beginning of their renewal process. But for me, it's an outward reflection of an internal renewal that's already happened. Kind of like a baptism of my identity. :) I've already been reborn as my own (well, God's) woman. This is just the public announcement. Hopefully it'll be a door to even more growth and new things!