Reasons for Changing My Full Name, Officially!

Well, well, well. This entry has been a long time coming, hasn’t it? I’ve not been putting it off (promise) – I’ve just been busy doing my own thing and enjoying all the recent changes I have made. I’ll talk about those changes another time, but today (as you already know if you read the title of this post) I want to address the reasons behind my name change.

It’s difficult to know where to start, as some of you reading this will only know me as “Marie”, whereas many others will know me as “Mary”. The rest of you will be completely and utterly confused by now, and I don’t blame you. I guess what you call me, at this moment in time, all depends what kind of relationship you have with me, or how long you’ve had a relationship with me.

Anyway, I hope that upon reading this post things become a little clearer to you. I know writing about my process will certainly help close a chapter for me, and I’m so glad to have a community of people I can share this experience with. The decision to change my name officially was a hard one, for a whole host of different reasons. It took a lot of consideration, soul-searching even – and boy would I have loved to have a place to chat about the name change, with people who understood or had been through it themselves.

I’m hoping that the comments section below will become such a place, in time. I think it’s important to connect with likeminded people (that’s the whole reason I started up Make Me Up Marie) and support each other when and wherever we can. There’s also a cool discussion to have on the self-empowerment element, which we’ll get to shortly… But first, allow me to explain myself (not because I have to, because I want to):

Reason 1. “Mary” was a name I never felt I owned. 

I’m not saying that I never answered to “Mary”, or that I haven’t gone through stages where I actually liked the name but honestly, it has never felt like the right name for me. I don’t care that some people think I’m religious because of it or that email recipients sometimes perceive me to be much older that what I am, but it does bother me that my own name causes so many inner conflicts. I can’t really pin-point the day that I realised this but I do know it was a very, very long time ago. 

Reason 2. Having “Marie” for the blog/friends & “Mary” for business/family was complicated and confusing (for everyone. Including me).

When I asked people to start calling me “Marie” at school, I really didn’t think people would take me seriously or that it would catch on… but it did, in a big way. In the end all of the teachers spelt my name with an ie rather than a y, even if they didn’t adjust their pronunciation. It was weird but before long all of my school books had “Marie” printed on them and my mum even started calling me “Marie-Lou”. It never caught on with my dad though. 

Reason 3. “Abbott” is the name that my mother and father hold. 

Speaking of my parents, it’s probably the right time to acknowledge that my relationship with both my mum and my dad has played a part in this whole name-change situation. As I’ve mentioned previously, we are no longer in contact. I’ve also mentioned before that I always felt very much like an extension of them, rather than my own individual person. I no longer want to carry this burden, because ultimately that is what it had become. I’m becoming my own person, finally, and I want a new name to match. It’s not necessary for my journey but it’s a truly empowering, validating step that I’m glad to have taken. 

Reason 4. I plan to get married within the next 5 years, but I believe it to be extremely important to find my own identity first.

When I was considering my name change, I covered all aspects. It’s a big possibility that Sam and I will marry within the few next years, or at least get engaged (fingers crossed for me girls). Of course, this made me wonder whether or not it was worth going through all the paperwork, just to do it again a few years later. But then I thought about it in greater depth and realised I still felt utterly compelled to change my first name… and so I would have to do all of the same paperwork anyway. With that, I began mulling over the prospect of adopting a middle name, to use as my surname until marriage. It seemed like a pretty cool idea for a while (I came up with “Rose”, so when he does put a ring on it I would become “Marie Rose Copper”). 

I slept on it and I’m so glad I did, because I woke up the next day furious at myself for intertwining (or confusing) my process with my relationship. “This isn’t what this is about” I thought, angrily, “I’m doing this to secure my own identity, without influences. I need my own name before I can take someone else’s, and that new name cannot cater for potential future opportunities or be related to anything other than my unique individuality.” 

Reason 5. The introduction of real-life stories here on Make Me Up Marie has caused some issues, meaning that a sudo name (pseudonym) became a necessary precaution.

In addition to of all the above, my birth name began to pose other issues when I started introducing real life stories, digital diary entries and process-driven posts. I received a heart-wrenching phone call from a close family member upon publishing a post, who requested I rephrased a paragraph where I mentioned my child abuse. It frustrated me to the core, because I have every right as a writer (and individual) to share my personal experiences, feelings and opinions. And it irked me even more that the problem didn’t seem to be what I had actually written, but instead what certain people may conclude from what was shared. 

I’m about to go on a little bit of a tangent but please just allow me to put the record straight. IT IS NOT MY RESPONSIBILITY HOW PEOPLE’S MINDS WORK. If people that know my father read this post and they somehow come to the conclusion that he sexually abused me as a child, then know that’s coming from your/their own fucked up mind. I have never written those words or insinuated anything of the sort. I am prepared to share my story in detail, but it will come out as and when I feel like it. I will not take on any pressure to explain my work – if you cannot understand it and do not have the patience to join me on this journey, then you shouldn’t be visiting this blog any longer. 

F*ck the sudo name. I’ll just disassociate myself from you as much as possible. And so, now there is nothing you can say or do about my writing 🙂 

PS. Here’s the definition of slander, for all of ya’ll that need some extra education. 

Reason 6. I never had my own go-to signature – it was different every time. Even printing “Mary Abbott” felt wrong to me. 

On a slightly lighter note, there’s my signature. Now my (old) signature for “Mary Abbott” was pretty non-existent. No matter how many times I practised or how many pieces of paper I signed, it just wasn’t something that that came naturally. “Marie Abbott” was a lot easier, but the “Abbott” part always looked like my dad’s signature, and my dad’s signature always looked like my uncle’s signature. I want my own name and my own signature… so yeah, that’s another reason. 

Reason 7. The moment I wrote “Marie Penrose”, it just felt right.

I had a huge list of second names to choose from and as I whittled them down I started to write them out on paper, to see what it felt like. “Marie Cadwell” looked nice but didn’t really have anything else to it, whereas “Marie Penrose” felt dreamy to write, looked right and most importantly, felt right. I printed the name over and over again and each time it looked better – it was as if my muscle memory was responding in a supernatural way!

Reason 8. Testing the name “Marie Penrose” with strangers confirmed by new-found sense of completeness. 

By this point, I was eager to just get it done. I printed out the paperwork, read through the details of the official procedure and worked out the steps I needed to take. I had to be super stubborn and sit on it for a while, because I knew it was a decision I never wanted to regret. I figured that I could still test the name with strangers though, so I flipped up the lid of my laptop and headed to Google to search for some local gyms to enquire about. I dialled the numbers, went through the motions, swapping pleasantries and pretending I was taking notes, and when the chance came, I proudly pronounced my new name… as if it was the one I had owned all my life. 

And that was all the confirmation I needed. It didn’t feel like a lie. It felt like a new beginning. 

Reason 9. “Penrose” is a realistic surname. It has personal meaning, but it isn’t related to anyone else and doesn’t symbolise anything (to me) other than passion, nature and beauty. 

The first name was an easy decision to make. The second name, not so much – as you’ve learned. The one thing I knew from the very beginning of this process is that I wanted to adopt a surname that was realistic and believable. I didn’t want my name to be attention-grabbing or sound fake, like something out of a movie or storybook. I also didn’t want to adopt the same surname of someone else I knew or had even come across. And to add to the equation, it needed to mean something to me, without this being overtly obvious.

“Penrose” stuck out to me like a sore thumb, for all the right reasons. First of all, the “Pen” could represent my love for writing (something that will never change, even if my career does). Then it struck me that the “Rose” could represent my love for nature, and my desire to be seen as an “English Rose” (also unlikely to ever change). It even somewhat coincided with my previous middle/surname contemplation (reason 4). It was simply perfect. 

IT IS SIMPLY PERFECT!!!

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But I know even after that lengthy explanation some of you will still be left with questions unanswered – and that’s cool – it’s not all that common and therefore it’s not something we speak about often. I’ve been so surprised by the amount of people contacting me, asking me how they can do the same or simply curious to know more and as you know, I’m all for trying out things (be it new products or new names!) before you do and giving you the low-down afterwards. So, without further adieu, let’s round up with a Q&A!

FAQ

1. Isn’t the decision to change your name a bit drastic and uncalled for?

Drastic, yes. Uncalled for, absolutely not… in my eyes… and that’s all that matters. It’s undoubtedly a decision that needs to be made with great care, consideration and precaution. I would say the reasoning behind a name change determines whether or not it is uncalled for, but individual reasoning is subjective. My advice would be to be true to yourself. Let your body tell you what is right and what is wrong, because it’s likely your mind has been corrupted by constraints that are difficult to ignore.

2. Why “Marie?” and not something else entirely?

I did tamper with the idea of adopting a totally new first name, rather than sticking with what is effectively a version of my birth name but I’ve always felt comfortable with “Marie”. It is not a name that has ever posed a problem for me – besides the fact that it wasn’t actually mine!

3. Don’t you have a middle name?

Yah, I do. I’m going to hold the middle name in my heart, and keep it private. I will not be using it publicly or officially, on paper or the web, but it will always be with me. I’m not embarrassed of it (although I admittedly have been in the past), I’m simply protecting family names and creating a space where the future is different to the past. It’s one minute way I can stop history from repeating itself, or at least restrain it from looming over my present moments. Love is not lost, but a way of life is.

4. What will you do when you marry?

The plan is to use “Penrose” as my middle name, and take my husband’s last name on as my own. This new name will always be a part of me now.

5. Isn’t it selfish… what about your family & childhood friends?

I think anyone who asks this question is trying to guilt-trip me, to be frank. If you ask this question before asking for the story, then you really have no right to ask it. If you ask this question after you’ve heard or read my reasoning, then you’re clearly missing something. I’m not doing this to please other people. I’m also not doing this to hurt other people. I’m doing this for me, and if that is selfish then you need to address your self-worth. We are not on this planet to accommodate to others wants and needs – we can compromise for the people we love, if it is reciprocated. That’s all.

6. Is it annoying when people slip up and call you “Mary”?

Nope. It really and truly isn’t, unless you’ve done it on purpose or are refusing to adopt my new name. I totally understand that it is going to be extremely hard for people that know me well, as “Mary”, to suddenly start calling me “Marie”. But to be fair, the change isn’t THAT huge… just pretend you’re french when you speak to me 😀

7. Does Sam call you “Marie” or “Mary”?

Sam has been a huge part of my (ongoing) journey to self-acceptable. He’s been so supportive and balanced and for a long time, he believed that disowning my birth name was a way of me trying to be someone else. In a way, he was right. What neither of us knew or realised when we met was that I wasn’t trying to be someone else, I was trying to be my authentic self… So yeah, he has called me “Mary” unapologetically for the bulk of our relationship but that’s all changed in recent weeks. Again, he’s been incredibly supportive and corrects himself every time he slips up. He even gives me a little laugh when I introduce myself by my old name, out of habit.

8. How do I go about changing my own name? 

Making the decision is the hard part. Filling out the official papers is the tedious part. I created my own deed poll (which is super easy to do but unaccepted by some record-holders) before I downloaded the official papers as it was like a quick-fix. I’m still waiting to hear from the Royal Courts of Justice, but am confident all will be accepted without a problem and that my new name will soon be enrolled in The Gazette. You can find out all the information and files you need via this link (UK ONLY). Best of luck!

If you have any further questions, please do post them in the comments section below and I’ll get back to you. I’d also love to hear some of your thoughts, opinions and experiences around this subject, so get involved and let’s get this discussion going!

Speak with you shortly. Yours truly,

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