Oh, what’s in a name, sings Timon to Pumbaa.
Very convincingly too.
And for the most part, he is right; not much, really.
But some other times, there is hell in it. Or redemption.
I have known both.
Right now, my name contains my Safe Place. It means freedom. It means healing. It means a chance at being happy.
I’ve been divorced for more than ten years, yet I still use my married name. Every now and then, someone would ask why. I always say that I hate red tape and it really isn’t worth the hassle of the paperwork and the money and time spent doing it.
At this point, most people agree and the conversation moves on.
But even more rarely, someone – trying to be useful, I’m sure – will say “oh, it is not as complicated as you think. You just fill out a form and that’s it”.
At this point, I stare blankly at them, at loss for words.
How do you explain that you simply cannot bring yourself to bear your father’s name again?
How do you say anything when even trying to hint at the fact that the real reason has to do with my father sends me into the amusement-park-house-of-horrors-mushrooms-induced-bad-trip-like experience* that thinking about my father unleashes?
I just can’t.
All that I have achieved in terms of healing, in accepting myself, in internalizing that my father’s sins are not mine to carry, that I am not a bad seed, that I don’t have to serve time for my father’s transgressions… all of that will be lost if I go back to my maiden name.
I can’t allow that to happen.
So, what’s in a name?
For some of us, the key to a healthy life.
* I’ve heard and read in the textbooks. I have never been inclined to drown my sorrows in alcohol or drugs despite the difficult, painful circumstances of my childhood and adolescence.