Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Episode 49: What's in a name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet, so Romeo would, were he not Romeo called, retain that dear perfection which he owes."
Juliet said it best.  A name is just a marker that is chosen for us at birth, something that our parents choose for us, something that we don't really think about, because we think it is out of our control. If I change my name, I will still be the same perfect person that I am. And so, as Juliet requests of Romeo, I may doff my name.

As we grow up, we identify with our names, we become attached to them, for the most part. As a woman gets married, in subservience to her husband, she changes her name to his, allowing him to dominate her nomenclature and taking away a part of her orginal identity, melding herself with him. He does not take her name, and stays the same person, not allowing himself to be subjugated, but instead becoming dominant.  It's been this way in our society for at least a thousand years, and women have put up with it. Hell, I've put up with it.  I changed my name when I got married. I thought it would bring me closer to my husband.  Things change.

I've been thinking a lot about my name, and posted a bit to Facebook about a possible name change, which prompted this post.

Now that I am divorcing, I have a chance to go back to my original name. Actually, it's even drawn up in my divorce papers that I will return to Victoria H----, but I'm not sure about this.  My name has become sort of a sticking point for me for as long as I can remember.

I was born Victoria H---- over 35 years ago.  My parents decided to call me Vicky, which changed to Vicki when I got to kindergarten and was asked which way I would like to spell my name.  (I think I simply asked which letter comes first in the alphabet and decided that was how I would spell my name.)  I was Vicki H--- from kindergarten until my sophomore year of high school.  As Vicki H----, I was mostly subservient, quiet, kind, polite, not much of a troublemaker... for the most part.  I had my fits of teenaged rebellion, but Vicki H---- was who I remained for a very very long time.

In my sophomore year of high school, I grew very rebellious and changed quite a bit.  This new identity that I created, this rebellious teenager who wouldn't take shit from anybody was called Tory.  When I moved in with my grandmother briefly during my sophomore year, when asked what I would like to be called (Victoria was too formal), I told the teacher's Tory, and for three months, Tory went to Menlo-Atherton high school.  Tory H----- was kind of a no nonsense kind of girl. I liked her.

I returned to Stockton and my name, changing it just a little bit to Vicky H----. The addition of the Y did little to change me and I returned to the girl I was. When I became interested in computers, my computer handle was Vixen, or sometimes Vixen Vipere, after a old device that my boyfriend and I had used in our writing. It was short for Vixantrayil, a name that I played with like a toy, a character I had created for a book that we had written together. 

When I got married, I took my husband's last name as was tradition and was Vicky L---.  We got married in 1998 and I stayed Vicky L--- for at least 7 years. Everybody still called me Vicky, at least family and friends, but I was in college and Vicky just seemed too..childish.  Vicky, in my mind, was a cheerleader, a sorority sister, a little girl with pigtails and just wasn't who I was anymore.  I attempted to get people to call me Victoria, which seemed much more professional and was the name that was put on all of my degrees. But my friends and family insisted on calling me Vicky... except one person. 

With one person, I confident and powerful and I didn't take shit. He made me feel strong.  For this person, I was Tory again.  He called me Tory for a good five years, and I loved him for the confidence that he seemed to give me.  A false confidence, I am sorry to say, for when he pushed me away, all of that confidence broke. 

With a little time and healing, I knew that I could not go back to being Vicky again and Victoria didn't quite fit right. It felt a bit big for me, so I took the name Tory back and made it my own. I grew confident, I added my middle name to it and became ToryLynn online (although everybody still called me Tory).  I grew into ToryLynn and became strong. I felt confident, I felt powerful, and I felt good finally being who I really wanted to be.  I joined writing groups, I became a big part of the writing community on Second Life for a while, and I felt like a better person. I had found my power. 

Unfortunately, as I gained my power as ToryLynn, Vicky was being left far behind with my husband.  I grew apart from him as I pursued my creativity and my power.  I feel bad about doing that, especially today.  Now, I am leaving him. It's not like I suddenly stopped loving. It is that I grew up and became a different person.

So, now this new person needs a new name.  In some societies, you are given a child name, something that your parents and family call you which is a personal name just for them.  When you grow up in this society, you are given a new name by an elder, or are asked to choose your own, something that represents you.  This new stage in my life is giving me a chance to choose my name and become a new person. The strong, confident, beautiful woman that I know I can be am.

I am reluctant to return to H----- as I don't want to be the child that I was before I got married, and I don't want to keep my husband's last name, since I have outgrown that as well.  I consider changing it to McGregor and becoming Victoria McGregor, which would look good on a book jacket, and Tory McGregor, which sounds awesome, and very ethnic to me.  Back to my Scottish ancestors, honoring my blood.  Another option is Victoria French, my grandmother's last name. Both are options which I find interesting, which I think are good. 

I will try on both for the next five months, and make my decision once my divorce is final.   I will give it a lot of thought.

Until next time, I am just


1 comment:

  1. Whatever you decide to call yourself, I will do my best to address you by that name. I will probably always think of you as Victoria.


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