What’s in a Name?

Recently someone from my past noticed I did not have my husband’s last name listed on my Facebook profile. He’s the first to say something but I’m sure many people have wondered.

It seems on Facebook, anytime you change something people immediately start wondering about your relationship (or mental health) status.  I think it’s a lot more interesting that people imagine the drama, than live in reality.

Here’s the reality…

Sometime after I left my job as a teacher (and during a hateful presidential campaign), I changed my name to Lisa Marie. I did this for multiple reasons, none of which had anything to do with my marriage.

I left my job and was preparing to use my voice in a way I never could when I was teaching. I was creating a blog to advocate for teachers and I planned to use my social media to promote it. I didn’t want my last name, one students and administrators knew me by, to impact my advocacy. I also wanted to preserve it in case I’d return to teaching one day.

As a woman who’s honored her husband by changing her name (twice), I’ve experienced the good and bad parts of a last name.

The good is that there is a legacy in a last name. It takes us back in time and tells a story of our ancestors. We gain knowledge of our culture and pass that on to the next generation. My children carry their father’s name and his culture as well as mine.

Now that I no longer share their father’s name, my children and I don’t share a last name. There is a tinge of anger each time I have to make that distinction.  Aside from my children, many of my accomplishments are in my ex husband’s name. For example, the college degree I worked for has his name on it. Some of my favorite students still refer to me by his last name.

A name that I no longer identify with still carries meaning in my life.  I want those accomplishments to represent me, but somehow they seem to represent him.

The major flaw in a woman changing her last name is her loss of identity.

After literally changing all my identifications multiple times, I’ve learned not to identify by my last name. Lisa Marie is my constant and the hero of my story.

I’m thankful that Brent was proud to give me his last name, but not too proud to understand that maintaining who I am is more important than putting his last name on Facebook.

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