I didn’t know it then, but I learned much more than I thought back when I changed my birth name.
In regard to my struggle with addicts, anger, and sociopaths in my life, I look back and now wonder how I didn’t see the bright neon light flashing above my head.
I struggled, even as the answer flashed repeatedly. My instincts knew. I can see them in action as I re-read some of my posts about my struggles with my name change.
Let’s face it: my ‘struggle’ completely derived from other people’s reactions, all of which were choices they made.
Here’s what I learned: ALL the assholes from my earlier life self-identified when I changed my name. They raised their hands. They showed me who they were, each one. All those who had already demonstrated violence, anger, and addiction in my youth showed me that their true colors and outlook about the world hadn’t changed. The only people who refused to immediately attempt to respect my crazy choice to change my name were already less-than-good people.
Some of my family and friends didn’t understand (or agree) with my decision. But the good people among them, the ones I could count on, all unilaterally tried to get used to the idea that the person whose identity I was born with was no longer a person. Did they forget sometimes? Yes, but not with malice. It bears repeating that some had concerns I’d lost my mind. Willingness to change shows the ability to love without agreement or even understanding.
Rigidity in attitude, though? Pathology.
The rest? All of them fall into my list of people who didn’t respect me as a person in the first place, or could only see me in terms of their own narrow and dark view of the world. There was a spectrum of disrespect. Not all were raging sociopaths. Some were. I’ve documented the variety of disrespect I endured from some. I’m not painting them all with the same brush of anger or lunacy.
I now see that their disrespect was just another symptom of their disease: simply put, they weren’t good people to begin with, not people I would have chosen to be in my life absent from the confines of exposure due to geography or family ties.
If I could go back and choose, I think it’s obvious that my choices would be quite different.
I still would choose to change my name.
This time, though, as the assholes came forward, I’d open the door for them and slam it behind each one of them.
And march forward with my life.
Which is what I should have done.