I've always told people I kept my married name for my children's sake. The truth is there were deeper reasons.
Let's face it, divorce is an enormous failure.
When we marry, we believe in our heart it will be forever. When we divorce, the denial phase of grief, though appearing to move on, continues to haunt us.
The expectation of everlasting love and commitment is so deeply ingrained in us that when we fail, there is a tremendous amount of denial, in part, because of the shame that comes with it--and, as I learned, shame is one tough mutha to shake!
I chose to limit my shame exposure by not changing my name. Yes, my friends and family knew about the divorce, but there's a wider circle of people in our lives. I didn't want to share my humiliation with the periphery because of the pitying looks people give you when they find out your marriage has collapsed.
I wanted to continue to see the faces of respect and admiration that I received before the death of it. Did my clients and professional associates need to know about my failure? Did my children's teachers have to learn of my inadequacy? Was I a lesser professional and parent because of it?
I misplaced my identity.
Up until my divorce, I had my married name for my entire adult life, and that name was tied to the man I trusted to be by my side forever. So who was I without him and his last name?
The journey to self-discovery was a long one, but eventually what I found was a synthesis of my younger carefree self with a wise and grateful woman--a woman I came to love again. In fact, I love myself more now than when I was with him!
I liked my signature.
I wouldn't embarrass myself by admitting this if it wasn't true! In my previous profession, I signed a lot of documents. Shallow as it may be, it was important to me to have an impressive signature. After years of writing my married name, I had a damn good Jane Hancock! Why would I want to change it? And what in heaven's name would I do with those black satin monogrammed sheets in my closet?
But... she has the same name.
What did it take for me to finally change my name? Yes, my children were now young adults. Yes, the shame was long gone. Yes, I'd gotten my mojo back. But it took one more little nudge to convince me that it was time to go back to the original.
Shakespeare once wrote, "What's in a name?" Well, my married name didn't smell quite as sweet anymore. My ex finally did it. He married the other woman.
So the question was: Did I really want to have the same last name as her? The answer: Hell no!