Gratitude fills me with a satisfaction difficult for words to capture. Still, many nights in the last few years I have cried myself to sleep. Sharing this experience hopefully elicits more openness and dialogue rather than pity; my life is gloriously fulfilling. And, yet, there are moments of such profound sadness. I will share more about freedom, sadness and beauty in later posts.
This I wrote months ago at a particularity challenging moment. In the re-read, what came to me is a quote from one of my favorite writers, Anais Nin. She said, “The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” We each blossom (or not) at the right time. This work though is not easy.
Nothing of true Beauty is easy....here goes...
Tonight, a giant to-do list calls to me urgently, my body cries for sleep and my heart yearns for something. I closed my brain to listen to my heart; this is what came to me: belonging.
Warning - I am about to make you uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable because my words will piece apart one of our societies most beloved and unquestioned traditions. I am not sorry; the time is now. Please read all the way through.
Most women wear a married name like a badge of honor.* We are proud or ashamed or whatever variety of mixed feelings our maiden names elicit. The histories of all the men who came before us, our forefathers, determining our worth. Mothers and fathers everywhere perpetuate the insidious tradition; so with no words spoken we come to believe that this way is the “right” way. Throw in a dose of Disney Cinderella stories, and, we buy the story hook line and sinker that WE are a belonging. First we belong to our father, then he hands to our husband and we REJOICE!! He chose me! I finally made it; I belong to someone, I must be WORTHY.
(Of course, I acknowledge this narrative ignores the true diversity of gender expression and experiences which we are rediscovering in the Age of Aquarius. During the Age of Pisces however, this agrarian phase, ownership of others was encouraged. We saw the rise of slavery in all ways, people as possession, strict rules on gender and familial roles, land as a possession, animals and all the natural world for sale. Google it. I digress. Back to my story…)
I would love to tell you that I didn’t respond the same way, that my feminist upbringing and flower child mother helped insulate me. Changing my name to my now ex’s represented success, arrival, belonging, worth, happiness, honor, purpose, self, or so I thought. While at the DMV to change my driver’s license at the tender age of 25, my smile was ear to ear. I belonged. I belonged to him; and the feeling was like a drug.
But, here’s the rub, I don’t belong to anyone.
True happiness exists not in an arrangement where one of the partners is psychologically placed in a submissive position; one that permeates all of society. As long as I, me, Freya, felt that my belonging, my worth, springs from someone else (no matter who, spouse, parent, child, friend etc.) happiness would elude me. Despite the new name, the house, the child, the job, tears flowed just as easily, perhaps even more from the realization of the deception. Osho says, “Love is not about possession. Love is about appreciation.”
Fast forward 20 years. Still waiting for the feeling of bliss that finding the “One” supposedly brings, a new path revealed itself to me, in increments. My role was to put one foot in front of the other and have faith. For an intellectual atheist, spiritual seeker, INFP putting heart first and head second is still a journey I am on, but not because it isn’t innate. My inner compass is my heart and always has been. Life, the house of cards I constructed, began to fall apart. The more I questioned the status quo, my role as wife, mother, provider, etc. the more pissed I got. How the fuck did I get myself into this mess of the matrix??Anger subsided quickly as I dedicated myself to what my heart knows deeply. I am a Lover. An Unconditional Lover. And to unconditionally love myself, I had to leave him. I had to belong to myself. This choice was not very popular.
Divorce, no matter how you flip the coin, represents a major life altering event. A horizon line, where we discover the earth isn’t flat and you will live another day. One of the convenient and interesting legal details of divorce is that at the time of decree you can change your last name not just back to your maiden name, but to any name you choose...including Rainbow Unicorn (I came of age in the Time of Lisa Frank) When this fact was shared with me my mind began to spin. How fun! How to choose? Quickly shuffling through family names that had perceived value to me the realization dawned on me; if I picked any of those names I was simply saying I no longer belonged to my husband, but to my dad, my grandfather, my grandmother's father, and so on and so on.
But, I don’t belong to anyone. I do not belong to the Patriarchy. I have free will. I will not be put in a cage; a cave; a zoo; a marriage; a legal bond; an illegal bond; I am Free, wild, and brilliantly expansive. Conundrum. What to do? How do I capture the violence of this break with the matrix and respect my inner nature as a LOVER.
Of course, I asked a friend to ask a friend to write a story for Nourrir about the weight and history of our last name naming conventions in western recent history (check out the article coming out soon) Processing over time also assisted me in coming to some conclusions. One, I have no idea what I will choose yet. Two, I have faith that when it’s time I will know. Three, no one else has to like what I choose. Four, I am sure I will get questions and I reserve the right to not answer.
And yet, my reflections aren’t anti-love or anti-companionship. On the contrary, for those who are close to me they already know, I believe in BIG LOVE. Love that consumes without possessing; one that gives with no expectations; expansive and safe; kind with boundaries; generous without sacrifice; exploratory and warm; independent and nurturing. Big Love. Affection, Sex, Tenderness, Discussion, Hard times, travel, good times , LOTS of alone times, growth, maybe ending maybe not. Love has no beginning and no end; each cosmic contract written with a set timeline in this earthly dimension and karmically linked in perpetuity until...until who knows. We spend so much time filtering ourselves so we don’t get hurt. So we don’t have pain. So we don’t have to sign a contract giving our belonging to someone else. What if all our fears around “committing” were just a natural reaction to the unnatural state of expectations on LOVE? “Love is not an emotion. Love is your very existence.” Rumi
I am not saying this is easy; to love with no expectation; to love with no guarantee; to love with no contract. I just want you to know this option exists. And, it is a natural one...
Recently another friend shared the three basic components to happiness, like the food pyramid, or Maslow’s hierarchy, but for soul happiness: we each need to feel SAFE, LOVED and BELONGING (and, purpose).... This concept could take up multiple other posts; let’s save those musings for later. Instead, let’s redefine belonging. Let’s take it back. I belong to me. To ME. If you believe in a God; you may say you belong to your creator first and yourself second. There is no middle man. Either way, no human belongs to another human.
My first big act of belonging to myself, of wrapping my own arms around my spirit to finally belong, to come home, is to pick a new name not tied to the patriarchy. I belong.
*not based on any scientific studies except personal observation