Not many people who know me in real life know this, but my daughter’s name has been changed. Not her last name. Not even because her father and I split. She had two middle names and now she has one.
I found out four years ago, amidst hundreds of secrets and lies and omissions I would discover that seasick year of my life, that one of my daughter’s middle names came out of a conversation with her father’s primary cheat-partner. Was what they would have named their daughter back when they were together in the open – not like the nearly twenty years they spent cheating on all their spouses and partners with each other.
There’s really so much worse that he did – before and since – but that was the one I couldn’t just get over.
My daughter. That name.
It took me more than three years to finally end what I came to admit to myself only in the last six months was (is) an abusive relationship. And within days of doing that, I stood in line at the courthouse to file the paperwork he had begrudgingly signed months before so I could remove that name from the thing that means more to me than anything else ever has – or ever will – in my whole long life.
It made me sick to my stomach to stand there and have to ask strangers to let me do this. It hurt to write that $435 check and get a court date to appear, to have to ask so publicly, for that symbol of my pain to disappear.
I even wrote the check amount wrong in the longhand section of the check. The clerk called me later to tell me and ask me if she could just correct it. I wanted to hug her through the phone for not asking me to come back in and relive the whole experience.
I’ve written before about how my daughter’s father stabbed at me with all the verbal barbs he could muster that day and then refused to show up to court.
The pain that day – as he stared at me even colder than I had seen yet. The fear. My relief and vindication when the judge himself said I didn’t need him there.
I went alone. It was done.
(see that post here).
After that, though, there is still so much to do. I had only planned to make it through the court order to change the name. It’s all I could mentally process at the time. But there’s more.
You have to contact the social security administration. You have to pay more money and send off the original birth certificate to get a new one. You have to notify the IRS.
I mailed off for her birth certificate at the end of last year. With a $48 check and a precise form that can not have one smudge or error or illegible character. So I could register her for kindergarten with the new certificate.
I just received the new birth certificate in the mail this week.
The day after I found out that the x has filed a court motion to declare me negligent as a mother. One day before he sent a factually incorrect message stating I’ve been stealing custody time from him since the shelter in place started.
Two days before he declared my daughter couldn’t finish ballet because I won’t give in to his other demands. Because I won’t be bullied or beat down or bent to his hateful will. He’s going to force her to quit ballet – a class I gained permission from him to enroll her in before signing her up – in order to try to hurt me.
Here’s the thing: these people play the role of doting parent really well. Unless you know the underbelly of why they do it and how they use their children as tools of abuse.
I found out about his court filing by being blindsided by a conference call with him and a family court services mediator to try to work it out. Work it out.
Work out giving in to the demands he has that even the court denied outright after reading his motion.
Attacks via whatever means he can find that offers the protection of not actually just shouting at me on the street so all his friends and family can’t see what he does when he thinks no one can see. Image is everything.
But I lost my sentence up there. Like I did that day. Derailed. Dizzy. Unmoored.
That morning, before I knew about that motion, I woke up and realized that in a few days it would be mother’s day. I realized it would be the first mother’s day I’ve ever had as a mother that would not be sabotaged in one way or another by him.
Bet you didn’t know that a predictable part of narcissistic abuse is that the abuser will always sabotage any important day that is about you and not them. Even ones that you think are for both of you – holidays, family trips, kid birthdays – but especially things that are just for you – your birthday, mother’s day, promotions, retirements, graduations. It’s one of the handful of without-exception-pod-people-parts of this kind of abuse.
It took getting out of it to see this for myself about my own life for the last eight years. All those years, each time, I ascribed it to other things. Stress. It’s close to the anniversary of his mother’s death. He’s not good at remembering dates.
But it’s not something else.
It’s as predictable as the tides.
Saturday he fired off several messages to try to bully and harass me. I’m sure on Sunday he will do something – return my daughter late with her head full of things she shouldn’t even be talked to about. Send a message full of made up things he will say happened at drop off. Something.
He won’t be here. Not in this house. Never again as long as I live.
He can try but he can’t take this one from me.
It may be the first one where I am one hundred percent sure that I am walking that walk of the kind of mama I want to be for this girl.
Getting her new birth certificate just in time for this mother’s day is a reminder that no matter what he tries – I am who I am and will be the best version of that I can be regardless.
It’s fitting, too, that the new birth certificate only works in conjunction with the old one. It’s not truly a replacement.
I looked at it three times over two days to make sure I wasn’t missing the one that didn’t have that old name on it to show the change.
I can’t remove the truth of her life. Her name. How we ended up where we are now and where we will end up at all the different points of our life.
The things I believed in with all my heart the moment she and I met for the first time outside of my body.
If I hadn’t been fooled, I wouldn’t be a mother.
If I hadn’t figured it out, she wouldn’t have the calm she does have now.
If I didn’t keep figuring it out – steeling my spine over and over and over – she wouldn’t have the mama she deserves.
I’m sorry, mija, that you’ll have to know that was your name at all. That your origin story isn’t the one I thought you had when you were born, when I filled out that form, sore and exhausted and so in love (with you, with him, with your brother and our new family).
I don’t need a certificate to tell me that I birthed you or to tell me how to birth this new life each day as the man who also made you tries to unmake so very many parts of it.
I’m not sorry that was your name if that’s what it took to have you here, right now, with me.
I’ll gladly take one to have the other.