When my divorce began I didn't have any intention of changing my last name. I honestly didn't think about it very much. I remember when I got married and took his name... it felt symbolic, like I was leaving an old life behind and moving forward into a new life. And then that new life was confusing and painful from the get go. I wasn't rescued from the loneliness, or the shame, or the fear, or the exhaustion that had somehow defined my life up until then. I was 23 and had very little understanding of how deep addiction ran or of what it would cost me to build a life in a community where abuse isn't named, acknowledged, or believed.
No one told me that leaving an unhealthy marriage would cost me my reputation, my people, and my sense of self. I figured it out as it came and consciously chose to keep moving forward anyway. Every survivor has to do the same.
A little while back I read something that said that a woman never gets to choose her own name. She is born into her father's name and, even if she is given her mother's maiden name, it still came from her grandfather. We live in a patriarchal society, so any name she is given comes from a man. If she gets married and takes her partner's name it is ultimately STILL passed down from a man.
I couldn't shake that thought and I carried it around for months before I decided to choose my own name. Symbolically it feels like coming out of this marriage and everything it encompassed, the choice is finally mine. I'm not walking out the way I walked in - lost, lonely, afraid, desperate, codependent, and normalizing dysfunction. I feel like I was someone's property my entire life and now I am mine. Only mine.
I asked my aunts and mom (the beehive) to help me find a name in our lineage that still connects me to the women I come from and they sent me stories and names. I asked my kids, my brother, and my sister which of the names I liked sounded right to them and we all ended up here. There's so much more to it: the woman Greene comes from, the digging into the meaning, the rebirth of it. But this part of the story works for today. I didn't go back to my maiden name and I didn't keep his name. I chose my own name the way I've been choosing myself over the past few years. And it feels fucking awesome.