While this may appear trivial to some, it was one of the most empowering moments of my life. Last summer, right around this time, I went to court to legally change my middle name. You see, I grew up in an abusive home (physical, emotional, sexual, and spiritual abusive). While my last name changed when I got married (I was so happy to leave my maiden name behind, not because I was getting married, but to end the association it held), my middle name didn’t. It would mock me on CC cards when I asked for just my first and last name, yet they always came with a middle initial or full middle name.
My sisters had changed their names on various levels years ago, and it was my hope to one day change my middle name. I have always hated it… always… everyone else in my family had “pretty” or “meaningful” middle names, me? Not so much. And even if it had fell into one of those categories, I would have wanted to change it after my childhood.
Last summer, I was about to begin a new job and before all the background checks etc… I went to the court house to petition a name change for the low (and inconvenient price of $183.00 + a time off work + standing in line at the DMV & SSN office). You can’t change it in a day, nope, that would be too easy. You have to set up an appointment with a judge and meet with them to discuss why you want your name change and be approved!
The meeting itself was fairly easy, the DMV manageable, and even the SSN office was decent (or maybe time has made these memories fuzzy, I do remember being excessively hungry at the DMV). Either way, last summer I changed my middle name and I checked it off my list of things to do and life went on.
It wasn’t until I received my official DL in the mail that it hit me. As I pulled it out of the envelope I felt proud, complete and dare I say, me? I chose a name for myself and it was one of the most powerful things I have ever done (with the exception of getting my Masters and saying goodbye to an abusive childhood family). While in an ideal world, I planned to keep my maiden name when getting married, the abuse from my childhood marred that for me. Yet, here at 30, I changed my name to a name I love, to a name that has special meaning to me!
Men are taught at an early age to value their names, all of them. To the point where they know that someday someone else will share it with them. Women are taught that our last names are replaceable and it should be a goal to have that happen. Granted, many women choose to keep their names, yet there is still an over arching theme for women to change their name for the sake of clarity, people’s comfort, the kids sake, etc…
In the end though, I believe that every person should be able to change their name to what they want. There is a sense of fulfilling responsibility and entitlement to oneself in changing one’s name. For me, it helped my inner child to cut ties with a name that held so much abuse. Sure it doesn’t mean I don’t have the scars of that time, but it stands as a reminder that I am NOT powerless anymore. I am in charge of my healing and growth!
I am proud of who I am and finally my name feels like me!
I am me, I am Heather Juliet Jones.