Thursday, 10 November 2016

What's in a Name?

Names are very important things. I know this because I spent twenty years in advertising building and growing brands. Our names are a crucial part of our identity.

When I got married to the wonderful Mr SM, at the age of thirty-two, I changed my name to his. It was important to me that we became a 'unit', and that any future children would share the same name as us.

We couldn't just add our names together since Mr SM's name was already double-barrelled as a result of some inheritance malarkey several generations back.

Now, Mr SM's name is old and deeply posh as well as being stupidly long. The history of his family, going back more than five hundred years, is listed in minute detail in Debrett's peerage and Burke's Landed Gentry.

But it's not my name. It's not the name that I spent thirty-two years becoming. Even after fifteen years of marriage I still feel like a fake when I use it.

For many years I ran the two names simultaneously. I used Mrs SM socially, and Ms P (my maiden name) at work.

It made me feel slightly schizophrenic (and caused havoc at airports when I'd often turn up with a ticket in one name and passport in another), but my life at that time was schizophrenic: high powered global businesswoman by day, harassed mother covered in baby vomit by night.

Then I quit work to become a full-time Mum and my birth name just... disappeared. I became subsumed by the name that belonged to my husband and my children and, at the same time, felt that the girl I was before the age of thirty-two was drifting away from me.

This, of course, coincided with me drinking more and more, until one day I looked at myself and thought who the hell are you, anyway?

Since I quit the booze, twenty months ago, I've gradually felt more and more connected with the person I used to be. I feel like I've come home.

Then, last week, an envelope dropped into my post box. It was addressed to Ms P. It was the contracts from my agent (I love being able to say my agent, in the same way that, when I first got married, I loved saying my husband).

Just seeing my original name on an official document made me all tearful.

She's back, baby. She's back.

Love SM x

16 comments:

  1. What a fantastic post! Don't you love rediscovering that girl/woman you used to be, Ms. P? I think that is where you find your best self for writing, because that girl was hopeful and happy and had not yet taken a high-dive into a pool of wine. It feels like you're rediscovering your joy for life and creativity at the same time.
    I am doing so as well and still have not yet bonded with my last name of five years. It makes it awkward to monogram things, because I don't recognize the initials. Also, my new last name is alarmingly like my ex-married last name, so I sometimes say the wrong one. It makes me feel really clueless when people ask me my name and I have to hesitate while I try to remember what my name actually is. ; )

    ReplyDelete
  2. I wonder if you are onto something about the loss of identity and a push in the amount of alcohol one drinks. I did the same. When I moved to London from LA I gave up my career to follow my the finance, got married, and set down roots. I lost a big part of myself in the move and struggled to figure out who I was at the time. I drank to fill the hollow feeling of not knowing my own opinions and what I wanted. Wonderful post and congrats on the contracts.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ok! Is this the subtle way to let us know.......the book is well and truly underway???
    Three cheers, SM! And then, another round! (Vocals, only vocals, please!) How very thrillimg - for you, for all of us!

    I never minded my married name; liked it a lot in fact, esp as it was so much easier than the 'maiden' name I shed (and I never truly thought about the full connotation of that term before - how beyond-antiquated!) But I certainly have grown into a different person than the one during my (so disliked) working years. And - with the clearer mind of the past 10+ months, I see changes in myself, including my much more positive outlook.....it's quite thrilling to still see yourself 'becoming something else' at this stage of life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi NorthWoman! The book is with publishers at the moment and more than one seem to be interested, so it looks like it really will happen! Hugs xxx

      Delete
    2. Hi - me too - I actually prefer my married name to my maiden name! And it has been long enough that it trips off my tongue at airports etc. But I never really liked my maiden name, so maybe that is an issue.

      Delete
  4. I haven't got a fucking clue who really am most of the time!!!!

    Justonemore

    ReplyDelete
  5. Even then, I missed an "I". As in "who I really am".

    Justonemore

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! Ha! Love you, Justonemore, whoever you are!

      Delete
  6. Brilliant!!! Brilliant!! Well done you.... xxxx

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yes you are Baby! So excited about your book and glad you are using your birth name. It's important we have our own identities, especially if our main focus is the rest of our family and you have previously been used to an independent and successful life. Your husband fell in love with Ms P and your children deserve to know that person. Have a fabulous weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  8. You don't have any other problems in these days?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not really, Maki. And that still feels like a miracle ;-)

      Delete
  9. I love the way your life is unfolding since quitting the booze. I feel privileged ready your journey. Welcome back Ms. P!

    ReplyDelete
  10. So happy for you! Can't wait to read your book. Marching on with only about 6 weeks till my soberversary! Feeling good!

    ReplyDelete