What’s in a name….


What’s in a name?

A lot more than people realize. Our names give us our identity and our sense of belonging, which are very important things. However, it is something that people seem to take for granted or don’t even think about on a daily basis.

It’s something that I think about often.

I walk around with a persistent nagging feeling of not knowing exactly where I belong.

Let me explain….

My maiden name is my biological father’s last name. He was never a real active part of my life. As a matter of fact, I haven’t seen or heard from him since 1998 and that was only because I was nice enough to invite him to my wedding. Prior to that it had been over 5 years since I’ve seen or heard from him. I may have seen 10 times growing up and he didn’t believe in paying child support or being a real father. Although, he did go on to adopt another woman’s child and have another daughter with a new wife that he later divorced.

When I was 3, my step dad married my mom and he raised me as his own.  I always kept my bio dad’s last name. That was only because my grandfather, my bio dad’s dad, was very special to me and I didn’t want to hurt him by losing his family name.  My grandfather died when I was around 12 or 13.

I got married when I was 28 and then gained my then husband’s name. I was very happy not to have bio dad’s name not be so readily visible. In addition, I felt a sense of belonging since I had a husband and his name. Three weeks after I was married, my step father was killed. After that, I stopped hearing from his family-as if I just didn’t exist anymore after his death. My half brother that I was raised with (my step dad’s biological father) hears from them but I don’t.

Unfortunately, my marriage didn’t last very long.  After the divorce, I kept my married name because it was very important to me that my daughter and I have the same one.

When people notice my surname and ask me about my family, I’m then faced with saying that it’s for my ex husband so I’m not really related to anyone I share it with. So then the next question is, what is your maiden name? Which is also again followed by more family questions.  That gets very uncomfortable since I don’t have a relationship with my bio dad or his family.  However, I’m still stuck with the name regardless, even though it’s just a middle and maiden name now.

There were times that I would give people my step dad’s last name since that’s where I felt like I really belonged. I don’t feel comfortable doing that anymore now though because that is also followed by all the difficult questions that puts me in a very uncomfortable place.

So here I am trying to figure out where I belong.

I really dislike it when people ask me about my family.

Despite my unsettling feeling, I know that I am very much loved, accepted and a part of the very small family that I do have. That isn’t an issue for me. My mom is remarried and I’ve been blessed again with another great step dad that has given me 2 more brothers, a sister and nieces and nephews. However, with the exception of my daughter, I’m still the lone one with a different last name.

My daughter will be 18 soon and will be off to college next year and starting out on her own. Therefore, the need for us to have the same last name is not as significant as it was when she was younger. So I’m considering changing mine.

I want a name that reflects the family that I m an active part of; so that when I’m asked family questions, I don’t feel awkward and empty inside.

I want the sense of belonging.

My ultimate dream is to finally have that “elusive soul mate” that gives me his name and has a large loving family that will accept and claim me as one of their own. That is something that I have always wanted. It’s great for me to want and pray for that but I need to remain grounded in reality. I’m 45 years old and have been single for 15 years so that may not be in the cards for me. It may be best for me to plan the rest of my life as if that will not happen.

Going back to the thought of changing my name. What name do I choose? My maternal grandparents were very special to me so I’m considering one of theirs. I’m not sure which one would be the proper one to use though. I do have some relatives on my grandfather’s side that I’m in touch with but not many. On the other hand, I m more involved with relatives on my grandmother’s side.

So, which one do I pick or do I hold out a little bit longer for “him” before I make any final decisions?

Much to contemplate…

Thanks for reading

Peace & love,

~Tiff

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