Turning the Page

Two days ago, I made a big decision: I added a middle name to my facebook profile and became Cheryl Page DeWolfe. Within the first hour three people (including Kiddo) messaged me privately to ask about it. By the morning a few more had asked. I realized I could either keep answering one person at a time or I could just make a post about it.

full text of my Facebook post from Thursday 9 Nov 2017

The responses tumbled in. Lots of “loves” and “likes” and comments that started to make me cry. Most people agreed that it really suits me; several welcomed me under my new name. Someone messaged me and said, “Congratulations on finding the right noise for others who want to get your attention,” which made me giggle. People I never expected to interact spoke up. It was both humbling and uplifting.

As names go, there’s nothing objectively wrong with Cheryl. It has served me well despite being very common for my age group, but it never felt like it fit, either. Now that I have spent considerable time, effort, and money (on counseling) to rebuild myself, I felt even more that it didn’t fit. Still, I made no real move to change it until my partner asked what I’d like to be called.

That moment of being given permission to consider an alternative was all it took. Two hours of stream of consciousness thinking and writing later and I’d come up with Page. As soon as he spoke it back to me, I knew it was the right fit. For a little over two months now, he has called me Page, as have others close to me. He introduced me as Page and I started to do the same as I realized I wanted more people to use it.

As I started to consider the complexity of living with two names, it bothered me, so out it went to the world. People change names for a lot of reasons. I am not the person I was ten years ago, or two, or even six months ago. Page may not have felt right at any of those points in time but it feels right to me now, and going forward.

I know not everyone will be on board at least at first. I know people will stumble, even if their intentions are to swap to my chosen name. I know because I have navigated a lot of name changes around me. Those closest to me have taken about a year — but those are names I say several times a day. I’m not quite ready to make the leap  to a legal name change, but that is an anticipated step in the future. Maybe by the time the paperwork catches up, others will too.