- 5 years ago
This is not an easy post for me to write. (And even more difficult because this is the first time I am ever contributing to a message board, though I am a frequent enough lurker.) Thank you in advance for your understanding and sensitivity. . . .
My story (my tragedy?) is a novel, so I won’t go into too many details here. But I suppose, to even ask for advice or mere words from experience, I need to at least share the base details, so here goes. . . .
I was married to my husband for about twenty minutes when I realized that he wasn’t the man I’d said “yes” to, that night he got down on one knee. Suspicions were confirmed during our wedding photo shoot, as well as at the reception. And things continued to go downhill from there. Within no time, my perfect, sweet, normal man had become an abusive monster–and abusive on every conceivable level (physical, verbal, emotional, sexual–even financial and spiritual). My life was a nightmare–hellish beyond imagination. I didn’t think I would survive it, to be quite honest with you–or if I did, I didn’t think I would survive as the woman I knew as “me.” I had spent too much of the past year huddled in the floor in a quivering ball, heaving tears long ago dried up, and having my vision black out because of the trauma that was my husband standing over me, screaming at me for HOURS on end, berating me, killing me–I knew I would never be the same again. His moods and tirades were completely erratic, and so–forget walking on eggshells–my existence took place in a veritable minefield. I lived my life in a tremor between his threats and his hostility; I developed a tremble in my muscles and in my breathing patterns that I simply couldn’t shake. Towards the end, I was convinced that–one day–he would kill me. His physical violence had by then escalated at such an alarming rate, there was absolutely no trusting this man anymore. When I tried to leave, he chased me while others, outside, merely watched.
This was all before our first year wedding anniversary.
Since leaving, I have been beset by his continued verbal and emotional abuse–as well as by harassment from his friends, church, etc. He has stolen the money we kept together. He has threatened me–and also threatened the lawyer I hired to handle our now pending divorce.
Since leaving, I have been in near constant therapy. I have been diagnosed with severe PTSD. The night terrors I have–dreams that are actually more like memories of the most horrific events of my life–are incredibly painful. But also encouraging. They remind me how good it was that I left when I did, and how strong I was to do it.
Now, as I look to recapturing my own life and becoming, once again, a complete person, I look forward to changing my name back. There’s only one problem. While my maiden last name sounds beautiful to my ears, my first name–the one given to me by my parents and cherished by me in my youth–sounds hollow and sick. I can barely look at it and think that it’s me. Every time I hear it, I hear it in my husband’s voice (and associate it with particular instances of his abuse, while he was calling my name); every time I see it, the shadow is in his penmanship. I can’t even return to my nicknames. Though they are unique and beautiful, those are his, too; nobody used my nicknames as much or as inventively as my (soon-to-be) ex-husband–and so he took what was once my favorite part of my name away, too.
I don’t really have too many qualms about changing my first name–quite honestly, the prospect excites me a little. I like the idea of naming myself–after he and so many others in his circle tried so very hard to define me and tell me my own opinions and perspectives didn’t matter. And I like the idea that i can choose something that has special meaning. However, I do regret that I would be giving up the name my mom and dad chose for me–as I am very close to the both of them–and I also wonder if a new name can ever be “really” me. Although, of course, I’m having the same existential dilemma with my “real” name, anyway. Even today, as a friend was calling me by that name and as I was searching for it on a list of other names in order to give my signature for a work project, I could not recognize it as mine. It feels like somebody else. I feel uncomfortable, sometimes, with it.
I’m just curious if this is a strange reaction on my part, or if any here have had similar experiences (or know of someone who has). I’ve scoured the Internet, but to no avail. I just want to know if this is something I should wait out? If this is something I should work on? Or if moving on from my husband might also mean moving on from this name? Just looking for some feedback in the midst of so much confusion. . . . What would you do?
Thank you for listening.
Marina (not my real name–but a thought!)