Many people have asked me about changing my name after the divorce…Why would I want a name different than my kids’ last name? Wouldn’t it be easier to just keep my married name? Does it bother my kids? Why would I even care?

And they never really fazed me–the questions, that is–until today at the dentist’s office. There’s something about a complete stranger making a comment that insinuates something negative about a personal choice that does not sit well with me. I restrained myself and did not give the hygienist in question the tongue-lashing I envisioned, but it has been bugging me all day.

So here it is. I went back to my maiden name after the divorce was final because–for me–it felt right. Yes, it makes me different than my children. Yes, it would have been much easier to leave well enough alone. Yes, my kids ask me about it.

However.

My divorce was about me being strong enough to say–out loud and in front of everyone–that I needed to step outside of my little unhappy world and try to make my life something better. I had morphed into a person I no longer recognized during my marriage. It’s not my ex’s fault–it’s far from his fault. It’s just the reality of how my life evolved. I had become this person who embodied so many traits that I don’t respect in other people; the next logical step was to lose respect for myself.

Going back to my maiden name was a symbolic way for me to declare–really, loudly and publicly declare–that the divorce wasn’t just a piece of paper that would get lost in the pile of other papers that clutter my desk. The divorce was a reclaiming of myself, of my spirit, of my life. It is the first step in rebuilding the respect in myself that I know I deserve.

I don’t want to revert to the person I was before I was married. Going back to my “old” name doesn’t mean that I don’t love my kids or that I would rather live a “single” life again. I hope that I’ve learned and matured and that I will take those lesssons with me as I try to get back to the essence of me that I’ve lost over the past 12 years. It’s that simple.

And if that hygienist wasn’t armed with sharp instruments and suction devices, I would have told her just that.