I want my name back. I didn’t lose it. Apparently I inadvertently gave it away.
I recently found out my ex-husband is using my last name in the name of his business. He set up this entity near the end of our marriage, so I knew about its existence. In our separation agreement, I gave up all rights to it because well, I had other issues and two little people to fight for. The name of a business that just started off was not a battle I wanted to fight. I assumed he would take my name out of the business or dissolve it altogether and come up with a new name after the divorce.
So a friend recently showed me a business card he came across–“Funny,” he said, “Look at this! What are the chances of this–it happens to be your name and your ex-husbands name!” Not funny, I said. That IS my ex-husband, and that is MY name.
So what’s in a name? Think about it–it’s a bunch of letters strung together. But it’s more than that. It’s who you are, your legacy, your past, your future. Your family. Your identity. There’s meaning in your name, there’s history, there’s ownership.
Names are a big deal–and not just for people who tried to corner the Twitter handle of Kimye’s baby’s name. People value a son who will pass on the family name. Women relinquish their maiden names to take on the husband’s family name. Couples spend nine months agonizing over choosing the perfect name for their child. Names connect generations and villages and humanity.
For me, it’s all that and more. When I got married, I chose to add on my ex-husband’s name. I would be Mrs. Ex-Husband’s Last Name socially, and I would remain Ms. Maiden Name professionally. I would also be misplaced in every medical records department known to man–apparently there is no universal agreement on how to categorize a hyphenated last name. When the divorce was finalized, I dropped his last name and was very happy to reclaim my entire personhood.
I had lost myself in my marriage, and I worked hard to rediscover and recreate who I am. I feel violated in a sense that he is continuing to use my name in any format. By using both our names publicly, I feel he is sending a message that we are still partners in a sense. That we have an agreement to be together. But see, I changed my mind. We broke up. It’s disingenuous to pretend to the world that we still have any kind of union. You can’t tell people we’re still together.
So when I see he still owns my name in some sense, I get angry. I won’t lose myself again, any part of me. And I want all of me back. He can’t have me. Intellectually, I know it’s merely a name on a business card that holds no meaning for anyone else. I know there’s nothing I can do about it. I know he really doesn’t own any part of me. I get that. I’m reminding myself that I am more than my name. There are parts of me he no longer knows, parts of me he will never know, parts of me only he knows. If my name is the only part of me he can still claim, I’ll gratefully let him use it because I know I own all of me.