Reclaiming Your Individuality After Divorce
I’ve been divorced for just under 2 years now. Some people have asked me if I’ve considered going back to my maiden name and to be honest, I have thought about it.
It is very weird to me when I see his new wife’s last name the same as mine on any of our child’s guardian/pickup/drop off forms. I always have this urge to put down “I’m the mama” next to my name so they don’t get me confused with the (other woman) new wife.
A name is a powerful thing when you think about it. It’s part of our identity. It’s who we are. The problem with my last name is, that’s no longer who I am. I’ve moved on. I’m no longer tied to him, aside from our daughter.
And therein lies the rub.
My daughter, of course, has his last name. It’s a part of who she is. And I worry that if I were to change my last name, it would not only distance myself from him and the life I used to have, but it would also distance myself (or give the appearance of distancing myself) from our daughter. I never want to do that. We’re still a family, the three of us. Albeit, a tad broken and dysfunctional, and now with a few extra people thrown in. But a family, nonetheless.
And so I’ve decided to keep my name the same. For now anyway. That may change if I remarry. I’ve tossed the idea of hyphenated names around, but I am nowhere close to getting remarried so that remains a thought for another day.
The Power of Ms.
I have specifically implemented the use of “Ms.” when saying or writing my name.
I am no longer a Mrs.
I am no longer attached to a Mr.
Not to say married women can’t or don’t stand for themselves. But the patriarchal attachment is glaring in the use of Mrs. and to be free of that is merely to be free. Ms., to me, implies being my own person. Unattached, I stand for myself.
It also implies that I have some life behind my years. I’m past the Miss stage. I’ve lived, I’ve made mistakes, I’ve grown. I’m not as young and naive as I used to be and as such have earned the adult title of Ms.
I’m not too keen on giving that up unattached, grown-up independence now that I have it. Even if I eventually re-marry, what does being married have to do with my title as an individual? We should be past the days of women as a man’s property. If I remarry, I will be an equal partner, not belonging to anyone. I will still maintain my Ms. title. Marriage should have no bearing on my personhood.
All in all, when I see my title and name, I am proud of it. I am proud of where I came from, the lessons I carry with me and who I’ve become. I have a piece of my past still with me, but it keeps me tied to my daughter. I also have an empowering title that lets the world know I am me. I belong to myself and myself alone. Even though society automatically bestows a title on women dependent on whether we’re married or not, I will accept and take pride in my Ms-hood, henceforth and forevermore.