Hi, my name is...Oct 12, 2022
What's my name? Well, it's complicated…
I was born Rebecca Anne Feinglos. My parents named me after my paternal great grandmother who played poker with her girls every Sunday well into her nineties, and they chose the initials RAF as an homage to my maternal grandfather, who served in the Royal (Canadian) Air Force. Feinglos may be hard to spell, but it's easy to pronounce: FINE-GLOSS. Anyone with a name that looks or sounds like it is probably related to me.
I never thought I would change my name when I got married, but at 26, I decided to play the part of what I saw as a good wife. In 2015, I replaced RAF with RAP because I thought it would help the new family I was trying to manifest. I knew there were times when my ex didn't feel like I took his side enough: what better way to prove that I was a great teammate than to take his last name? He didn't pressure me. I made that choice, looking to conventional standards of what a happy, name-matching family looks like. I wanted the Etsy doormat with our last name in cursive. I wanted the holiday cards signed from our one-last-name family.
It may have looked perfect, but it never felt good.
I grieved when I got my new Social Security card in the mail that erased the last name I got from my parents. Had I rejected my heritage? I felt guilty over my new monogram, and remained bitter about any name-change-related hurdle I had to tackle: I'm doing all of this for him, I thought, as I spent hours on forms and appointments to change my name on my driver’s license and with banks and airlines and doctors’ offices. And for what? We still fought often, and he still didn't believe that I was on his team. For years, I was deeply resentful and remorseful over the decision I'd made. I'd even weaponized my frustrations in fights: what do you mean you don't trust me? I literally changed my name for you!
In retrospect, my gut feeling that I needed to prove my love to my partner should've been a red flag, but I barreled on through. I thought I could solve for some of the tension in our relationship with a name change, but of course that didn't work.
My name has been a source of anxiety for me throughout the divorce process. My brother even told me that he could hear the sadness in my voice when I spelled my last name making dinner reservations over the phone— I sounded so defeated. He was right: I really felt stuck. I had added Feinglos back into my name on social media and my email signatures to visually distance myself from my married name as soon as I was separated, but, legally speaking, I was in limbo. Without a divorce decree in hand, I couldn't start the process of changing my name back. And here in North Carolina, there is a minimum one-year waiting period before you can even file for divorce. (I have approximately one million angry thoughts about that, but I'll save them for another post.)
488 days after separating from my ex, I'm legally divorced— a Wake County judge finally said so, as of last week. And on the divorce decree, just like my lawyer told me it would, it says: "Plaintiff is allowed to resume the use of her maiden name, Rebecca Anne Feinglos." It feels so validating to see my name on equal footing right there with the dissolution of my matrimonial bonds. I got my name back. It's been adjudicated!
Hi. My name is Rebecca Anne Feinglos. It’s so nice to meet you, again.
---If you like learning about grieving alongside me, scroll down to the bottom of this page and sign up for my mailing list---
Join the Grieve Leave movement
Share your info to join our Grieve Leave community. You don’t want to miss anything!