What’s in a name, and do our names really equal our identities? When I got married I never changed my legal name but I did assume my husband’s name. Back then women did not legally change their names we just assumed our new ones and used it. I had my drivers license, health card and passport in my married name but my SIN and birth certificate remained in my maiden name.
Why did we do that? Well way back in the day when women did not have the same rights the we do now we changed our names so our children would not be considered illegitimate and we would be secure. The feminist in me gets riled up when I read this, but that’s a topic for another day. Thankfully those things don’t matter any more.
Women change their names for different reasons now. When we get married we are joining our partner for life (at least that is the dream) so changing the last name signifies the start of a family unit.
But back to our identity. Does changing your name change who you are? I didn’t think it did until I went back to using my maiden name, the name I was born with. After 30 years of using one name, longer than I had used my maiden name, it was weird, it sounded foreign. That did not last long though, when I signed my name for the first time as Fiona Barr I realized it was time to find myself again. To reconnect with the Fiona I was before I got married and then create a brand new me. I was a very different person than the Fiona who got married at 24 and was now 55.
If I go back to the moment when my marriage ended, the moment he made the choice to move out I did something I had wanted to do for a long time, adopt a cat. So after I dried my tears, picked up the things I had thrown I went to the pound and the scraggiest looking cat I could find to give her a home.
This was no ordinary cat, so she needed a very special name. It took me a few days to find the right one. I had thrown out a variety of names; Princess, Rover, Hey You, until I found the right one. Freedom. Her name was Freedom because not only had I rescued her from the pound she represented the start of a new life for me. The start of a time of freedom.
Freedom from having to worry about someone who didn’t want me any more. Freedom from the sadness and the angst that had become my life. Freedom to live my life the way I wanted to.
Then I thought oh I should get a second cat, so Freedom would have company. So here I am two cats and I asked myself, if I was on the train to be that old lady who had all the cats, you know the kind, lives by herself with 30 cats, smelly house, maybe having some strange behaviours.
Then I had started to think about other things I had been doing, why was I making the choices I was? Was something wrong with me? Was I being reckless, I hadn’t behaved this way since I was in my early 20’s before I got married.
Nope, nothing was wrong, I was trying to figure out who I was if I wasn’t Mrs So and So. I was having fun, I hadn’t had any fun in years, the previous 2 years were all worry and fear and sadness. There were bright moments, like the birth of my grandsons and let me tell you that was what saved me. I knew I had to be strong for them. They brought light into what could have been a very dark time and for that I will always be grateful.
It was a long road, I had moments of sadness and loss, insert Grief here. The loss of the life I thought I was going to have. I had always seen my husband and I sitting on a deck holding hands and watching the sunset every night until we couldn’t do it any longer. (I know sounds like the end of a romantic movie). I was grieving the loss of what was to be. I would see couples holding hands while they walked, we had always held hands, and I would start to cry and feel an overwhelming sense of sadness and loss.
Then I had moments of why me, why did this have to happen to me? What did I do wrong? Enter Victimhood. This one can be really ugly because it can so easily turn into that pity party, in fact I had one recently. I had some health issues and was in pain. There was one night when I could not get off the couch, I burst into tears because I had no one to help me, no one to bring me a cup of tea or give me a hug. I could see what was happening, I was getting ready to go into full blown pity party mode with hats and music and then I stopped. I did not want to be at that party, it was not me. I went inside of myself, remembered the strength I had and the joy I had in the life I have created that I got myself up off the couch, wiped my tears and made my own tea.
Transitioning from married to single is not easy, especially when you have spent the biggest part of your life with that one person. During the years we were married we found ourselves finishing each other’s sentences, knew exactly what we needed and gave it freely, that was until we didn’t. Now, that’s a story for a different day. So how do you get to the point where you know who who you are?
I hired a coach to help me understand who I was again and what I was capable of doing.
I learned to meditate and journal, getting my thoughts and feelings down on paper were what got me thinking about what I wanted in this next phase of my life.
I learned new skills. Picked up old hobbies.
I embraced my friends and family.
I learned to ask for help.
I found a home that was mine- no memories of the bad times. It was a place where I could make my memories.
There was more that I did and continue to do. We’ve all seen the pictures and the memes of the cocoon that becomes a beautiful butterfly. That is how I see myself now.
My marriage was not all bad, we had nearly 25 years of love, laughter, adventures but like all good things it came to an end. I often tell people that when he moved out he gave me a gift. He actually made the choice to end our marriage and I’m not sure I could have done that, I wasn’t that strong. Or maybe I was still hopeful that things would change and we would get back what we lost.
Either way I have a new life now and I am happy and joyful and living the best life that I can right now. There are new adventures to come. I may be in my mid-50’s but that is not going to stop me from experiencing life to the fullest.
Hope you enjoyed reading. Send me your thoughts, I'd love to hear them!
Peace, Love and Joy,
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