Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Name Limbo

I'm stuck in name limbo. No, dear Catholics, not that Limbo, just a generic limbo. I got married about five months ago and changed my name in accordance with tradition. And I like my new name. I am incredibly lucky that I married a man with a "normal" name, easy to spell and rarely mispronounced (though oddly it occurs). I went from having a rather ordinary and common maiden name to a non-ordinary but still recognizable new name.

But now I'm stuck between names. When I see my maiden name, I recognize it as my own, yet part of me feels no association to it anymore. When I see my new name, I get excited that people are recognizing this new part of me, but part of me doesn't see "me" in the name yet. I am getting better at signing the new name, reminding myself less and less each day that I'm different now.

There is a sense of loss, a part of me that will always miss my birth name. It's not a tragic loss, a "ripped right out from under me" feeling, but more like a nostalgic longing. It was the name my family gave me, a part of my heritage, a history of people connected by namesake to me. It was the very first thing I ever learned to write in cursive, and it was probably the most practiced thing I wrote. Then again, lots of people have that name, and I was rarely related to any of them.

And there is a hesitancy to take a new name. Don't get me wrong, I love my husband, I and am proud to share his name. But does taking a new name fundamentally change who I am? Do I need to make a point to embrace the name? Do I need to have a funeral service for my old name? What changed? Yes, my name changed legally, but what really changed? Anything?

Have you ever changed your name? How did it make you feel?


Skunk said...

When my named changed for the same reason, I was very excited (also because that meant my last name was no longer to be confused for my middle name or part of my first name, since I had a "name" last name)! It was a task to sign the new name, but it's more natural now. When I see my maiden name, it makes me a little sad, but mostly like "that was me then, this me now, but both are still very much me, just at different points of my life".

Overall, I'm thrilled that my name has changed, and every time I see it, it makes me incredibly happy! :)

Skunk said...

I kind of LOVE the idea of a "funeral", but that would imply that our old identity is dead, and if that were the case, the men we love wouldn't have married us in the first place! Maybe it could be a piece of art, showing how the old name morphs into the new name... I suddenly feel the need for a pencil and sketch pad. :)

cm0978 said...

I am still my maiden name (actually I strongly identify with my mom's maiden name). After 30 years, I don't think of myself as my married name. The name rolls off my tongue easily, but it doesn't define me. I am still my childhood name.

Anonymous said...

I can relate to this post! I took my husband's name as my last name 28 years ago and I still feel like it is "his" name. At times, I wish I had kept my maiden name, but when it comes down to it, does it really matter?

What is a name anyway? To me is is kind of like an email address or a website, it is just a way for people to find and connect with you.

Since I work with people everyday who find it necessary to want to change their name, I have found that a name is just a name and nothing more. It isn't hard to get a new one!

MissKris said...

I once wrote a check to my mother-in-law with her maiden name on it instead of her married name which, of course, is mine, too. Boy, where was my brain THAT day?! We both got a good chuckle out of that, hehe! After having a maiden name that is one of those Scandinavian impossible-to-pronounce ones and marrying Dear Hubby whose last name I thought would be so easy...HA!!!! Hardly ANYONE can pronounce it right on the first try. You have my email addy...it's right there. Do you know how many people put a "T" in there or say "SK" at the beginning instead of "SH"?? Argggghhhhh1 But at least it's a lot less letters than my maiden name was. THAT I like, haha!