I am so proud to wear my new last name.
For the first time in my life, I am proud of the name I bear, and the family I represent.
It has been a long time since I used a last name that was not my legal last name. That name, my mother’s maiden name, was never truly mine. That name was given to me by my grandma, who couldn’t bear to use my legal last name… my “father’s” last name. I believed that maiden name was my legal last name all the way through adolescence, until I applied for my Learner’s Permit and I, for the first time, saw the truth. I went by my “fake” last name until college, when I decided it was too confusing to try and correct every faculty and staff member I encountered. I opted for consistency over pride.
After 8.5 years of bearing and representing my “father’s” last name.. I am no longer bearing the last name of the man who destroyed my family. I am no longer representing a drug addicted murderer who has been in and out of prison, and who no one in my family (even on my paternal side) keeps in contact with, or even cares about. I am no longer burdened by the last name of a man who had two daughters by two different women, but has never once tried to make contact with either. I am free.
Don’t get me wrong, I have been at peace regarding my “father” for a very long time; however, wearing his last name from 18-26 years old was not fun. Having the first name “Ashley,” I was constantly surrounded by other Ashley’s, and therefore, being addressed by my last name. For example, when I joined my sorority in undergrad, I was one of six Ashley’s out of 55 members. The only thing worse than seeing that name on my legal documents, was being called it out loud. Thank God, those days are behind me.
I now proudly wear the name of a man who is an exceptional son, father, and husband. I now represent a lineage of public servants, with my husband and his late grandfather being police officers, and my father-in-law being a firefighter. I wear the name of a man who puts me and our kids first every day… a man who would never do to us what my father did to my family when I was only 4 month old. I am no longer embarrassed by my monogram, or expected to explain to my high school friends why my last name “changed” when we graduated. I am married to the most amazing man, and have been accepted into an incredible family. I will proudly represent my new family until the day I die.
Family can cause a tremendous amount of pain, but remain optimistic, as good things come to those who are determined.