Names matter. Names are symbolic, can set tone, start a conversation. A rose is a rose by any other name, but we may feel differently about that rose and it may smell rather different by another name. Perceptions change when names change. Names are part of our identity.
Last year I changed my first and middle name, from Lisa Marie to Vivienne Veronica. I love both names. Vivienne Veronica is so va va voom. It has elegance and femininity. I chose Veronica because of St Veronica who gave Christ her veil to wipe His face, and His Face left an imprint in her veil. It was around this time that headcovering was becoming important to me, so this name had significance. I also liked it because it was a four syllable religious name ending in “ca” just like Angelica after my daughter. I chose Vivienne with the French spelling because I loved the delicate look. Vivienne and Veronica go so well together. I love the alliteration.
I’ve always felt the very act of naming yourself or someone/something else is extremely creative. Names are so poetic and gorgeous and meaningful. I think I’ll always have a second name I use online or in writing or part time. I love Vivienne Veronica. I adore Zarina, July, Irene, and many others. I intend to use them at various times.
I also feel that in addition to giving me creative license and inspiration, renaming myself allows me to start over fresh. When I renamed myself I was undergoing a spiritual transformation, and wanted a new name to reflect the new me. It was also a chance to break free of old addictions. Renaming myself provided me with a new start.
However, at the time I began using my self created name on everything from email addresses to blogs, I was not in contact with my family. There was a hole in my life. At the end of last year I got back in touch with them and we reconnected. It troubles them that I use a different name than the one they gave me. It hurts their feelings that I don’t use the name they gifted me at birth. So I split my time between the two names, leaving some people confused about what to call me, my family unhappy I’m going by another name at all, and me always having to remember whether the person I’m running into knows me as Vivienne or Lisa.
I am very attached to Vivienne Veronica, but I’ve decided it is best to start going by Lisa again, or maybe at least Marie for my legal middle name. I may always play with using other names online or creatively (naming myself is such a poetic, creative outlet for me), but legally I will keep my name Lisa Marie. Socially I will go back to being Lisa Marie. Lisa Marie is a soft, classic name with an L I really like and that gorgeous French Marie. Lisa Marie is just so female, so feminine. I know it would make my parents happy to see me going by my given name once more to people outside the family. So from now on, call me Lisa Marie, not Vivienne Veronica. I’ve changed over the last five years, and after all these changes I maybe now, more than ever, can fully be Lisa Marie. I am her. Vivienne Veronica gave me space to grow, like a chrysalis it let me grow my wings in safety. But now like any butterfly I am ready to fly. Like any river I am indebted to the rivulets at the base of my life, and they are an intrinsic part of who I am. Like a willow tree, I need to care for my roots. Vivienne Veronica was a good name for the leaves, but not the whole tree.