Over the past 16 months I have lived through a separation and divorce from my husband of almost 28 years. The first thing that I want to say is that I dearly love the man I was married to, however we both wanted to live life in very different ways. We both realised that we could not continue to live together as the tension and pain of each other’s ‘wanting the other to be different’ was constant and causing us both much heartache.
So we decided to separate and then divorce when we were able to. The process of this was done with deep respect, and at times, with a deep love of each other as we organised and moved through this challenging time.
What this has brought up for me is the question of whether I change my name back to my maiden name or stay with my married name?
This possibility has been on my mind for some time, with the following thoughts filling my head:
- Will changing name hurt my children?
- Will it hurt my ex-husband if I seemingly abandon his name?
- It is a lot of work to change my name with having to contact all the businesses that I deal with, telling friends and relatives… the list goes on.
But this morning I lay very still in bed and allowed myself to feel each name – first my maiden name. Immediately I felt a sweetness, a purity and an innocence inside of me. I then felt my married name and immediately felt myself ‘shut off’ the sweetness. This didn’t feel very nice in my body – I felt rather sad, dense and somewhat numb. What was so very marked though was that I no longer felt the sweetness I had held before marrying.
First and foremost, it is not my husband’s fault that I felt this way. It was completely my choice to shut myself off to the sweetness that I held within. It was like getting married flicked a switch inside of me that said – OK, now you have to toughen up, you have responsibilities, you are a wife and you have to care for your husband, your thoughts and philosophies on life no longer matter, you have to take on those of my husband’s… and that my friends were no longer important. I had a husband now and he was the most important thing in my life.
This continued as our married life matured. When I became a mother, the many pressures and expectations this brought reinforced the choice to harden that I had adopted. This continued to be my pattern as I began to be a very hands-on parent during the schooling years, and also an active community member.
All the while there was a resentment and bitterness growing inside of me. The hardened way I was living completely shut me off from accepting any help or support, as I saw such care as a criticism and so pushed away anyone who loved me and wanted to support me. My outside persona constantly said that “I was alright; I don’t need you.” The hardening shut down my ability to be open and honest and to lovingly accept support; I was unable to simply share what was happening for me and most importantly, how I was feeling.
This morning’s experience has brought much understanding as to how one’s life is forever changed, moulded and lived from the choices we make.
Back to the question, do I change my name? Earlier today I would have said hands down, yes change it back to my maiden name, that is when you felt and lived your sweetness to the best of your ability. That by marrying and hence taking on my married name all of the sweetness was buried seems simple, right?
Well, actually no; as I write this tonight I can feel very clearly that the change of name is not that important – what is important is that I have recognised what I did to myself in my belief of how I needed to be in my marriage. That I could clearly feel the choice I made to shut down such a beautiful part of myself and that I can at any time, no matter what name I hold, open up again to my sweetness and everything that comes with it.
It now feels that if I change back to my maiden name I will not be giving myself the grace to heal the hardness that I brought into my life from the moment I married. It would be like ‘running away’ from accepting the choice I made to harden, to hold back the purity and sweetness that has always been within me. As I open again, allowing my sweetness, already there are many moments flashing before me of the way I was living in my marriage and the countless interactions that came from my hardness. As I see each one and read the energy that I was choosing to use at that moment, I am becoming aware of the tension that I have held in my body from living this way. I am aware of this because my body is literally releasing this tension with each memory.
It feels almost scary to let my sweetness out, to let it be seen and felt inside of me. I have not done so since before I was 20 years old – I feel very vulnerable and fragile. But underneath all of this there is a sense of surrender, a ‘thank goodness’ that I am choosing to return to my true essence and its presence that is very palpable. That to know another intimately will become my natural way, because I am choosing to know myself intimately again.
So the question to change my name is not the true question that I was asking: what I was asking is, am I prepared to live again, explore, get to know and share with the world the sweetness, innocence and purity of my essence?
Published with permission of my ex-husband.
By Leigh Strack, Goonellabah, NSW