Thursday, December 04, 2014

What's in a name?

So, as mentioned in my last post, I recently got married, and I decided to take my husband's last name. Really, anyone who reads this blog already knows all of that information. Sorry, but you can't have the last 30 seconds of your life back.

It was sort of a no-brainer for me (which, if you know the last name of my high school longterm boyfriend, is a funny thing to say) for a couple of reasons: 1) his last name is totally inoffensive, solid, and sounds fine with my first name (even comes from the same ethnic background) and 2) I figured it would/will make it easier when we have kids, all one last name, etc. I just didn't put that much thought into it, which is funny because when I was younger (as in, elementary school) I would always say that there was NO CHANCE I'd take ANY man's name! I was who I was and that was the end of the story! Plus, I loved my alliterative name. So when did that suddenly change? Or is that exactly WHY it happened - because when I married my husband all my blustering and passionate assertions regarding what I would or would not do went out the window?

Anyway, changing your name is a bitch, regardless of the reason you're doing it. I expected that. But what I didn't expect was the amount of sadness I'd feel as I moved through the process. I feel like I'm losing a big part of myself, which is so strange to me. I even changed my middle name to be my maiden name so that it wouldn't be gone forever. My dad was the only son in his family and my brother is the only son in ours, meaning that if my brother doesn't have kids (and, for the next generation, a boy), our last name is donezo (as far as our branch of the family tree goes, at least). There are plenty of other Barrys out there in the world. So it was important to me that it continue on in some way, even if just in my middle name. I do plan on sneaking it into at least one of my children's middle names though (starting that campaign now).

One would think that it doesn't really matter, but it does (which became news to me when I considered HOW exactly I would change my name). I felt strongly about my name. I loved the way it sounded. People frequently called me by my first and last name, which, in the case of Bridgets everywhere, is normally LARGELY unnecessary (unless you're my friend Katie in whose case 95% of your friends are named Bridget, Brigid, or some variation thereof). So I always felt like Bridget Barry was just who I was.

So now that I'm not, what does that mean? How much does it truly matter? What's in a name? It absolutely breaks my heart that to the US Government, this Bridget Barry has ceased to exist. Knowing that I'll be a parent in coming years and the amount of thought I have ALREADY given to my future children's names and how they sound with our last name, it breaks my heart to think about my parents when they named me. They gave me the name Bridget Barry, never thinking to themselves "Oh it doesn't really matter because she'll change her last name partway through her life anyway." So in a way, changing my last name felt like a betrayal of them. Like I was saying I didn't want to be part of their family anymore.

My brain hasn't caught up with my credit cards and social security number. When people ask what the name on the reservation is I still say "Barry" (and sometimes it actually is). I have yet to introduce myself with my new last name. I wonder how long it'll take for it to flow off my tongue? Don't even get me started on my signature.

This post is largely an exercise in navel-gazing but still...I guess I just wanted to see if anyone else felt the same way when they changed their last name? Did you feel like a small part of you was dying, like you were suddenly cut off from an old friend? Like it was cold outside and you forgot your jacket? It's so melancholy! And I'm being much more dramatic than is strictly necessary, but hey. I had a great name. My mom couldn't wait to get rid of her maiden name because it was awful to spell (which is why it is such a great Security Question answer). That wasn't the case for me.

A few of my girlfriends got married pretty quickly after college and it takes me a second now to remember their maiden last names - not long, but it takes a beat. Their married names are just who they are now in my brain, and I wonder how long it'll take for them to feel the same way about mine? Or if it will be harder given the previously mentioned alliteration?

It's just so strange how this feels like a loss rather than a gain. I didn't gain a new last name, I lost my old one. So here's to Barry. You were great and you served me well. Thank you.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Well, a lot has happened in the year +  since I last posted. I didn't mean to abandon my blog. It wasn't a "conscious uncoupling" (looking at you, gwynnie). It just sort of got buried in the inbox of my life.

Last January I got engaged to the man who is now my husband (Jeremy). I wish I had been blogging throughout our entire engagement so that I could look back now and (hopefully) laugh at all of the things I stressed about through the wedding planning process, but alas, I did not. Probably because I was too busy being stressed about the wedding planning process.

So here I am, newly wed, full of things I want to record lest I forget no particular order:
  • People get really excited when you decide to get married. I found that to be really strange. Was I simply unaware of the level of support/cheerleading that existed for our relationship? Was everyone secretly talking to one another about how we were the best couple ever and should definitely get married, just waiting for us to reveal that we were going to do so? That's what one would think, based on how excited people were. Which is definitely nice, just a little surprising I guess. I don't really expect people to be terribly excited by any of my major life decisions. Maybe they just wanted cake...?
  • To anyone planning a wedding, or any large event, or really, anyone living life: It's embarrassing to even type this because it's been said so many times before. But maybe me saying it one more time is the thing that will finally get through to you (because it never got through to me): The things you worry about are not going to happen. Or, if they do, you really aren't going to care about them, and the obsessive worrying you did before is really not going to have prepared you one bit. The things that you did NOT worry about, though, those are probably going to happen. So you think to yourself, ok, then I'll just worry about EVERYTHING...but what's the point? Just let go. In my experience, anxiety is like an octopus. First of all, it's just gross. But second, it has a bunch of different legs coming at you from different angles trying to restrict you and hold you down. Or maybe anxiety is like quicksand. I don't know, stick with me here. The point is that whatever anxiety is, I have found that if I just stop fighting it, it gets bored and lets me go. Don't engage with it. Let it bore you. Let it try mutating into anything it can to try to scare you and get you involved again. But try not to engage. I figured it out - anxiety is a Boggart (if you don't know what that is, you haven't read Harry Potter and you probably shouldn't be reading this blog anyway). It'll transform into whatever it thinks will scare you the if you can just laugh at it, it'll go away. Sometimes I think to myself, "Well done, anxiety! You really put a lot of work into that one!" and it seems to make whatever it is less scary.
  • Do not attend your own cocktail hour at your wedding. You want to, I know. I know! I hear you! I hear you, but (and I wish this weren't true), you are going to regret it. I wish someone other than my mom had said this to me because let's be real, the last person you listen to when you're a bride and they're disagreeing with you is your mother. Your wedding day is like trying to take a sip from a firehose. You want to speak to everyone, you want to absorb all of the generous, ridiculous love that your friends and family are sending your way, but frankly, it's just impossible. If you're like me and my new husband (introverts), you frankly will not have the capacity to absorb even half of it. Be aware of yourself, know yourself, and be gentle with yourself. If you can't take 130 people wanting to talk to you at once, don't attend your cocktail hour. Reserve that time for the bridal party, or even for just you and your new spouse. Cram appetizers into your face, drink drinks. Revel and breathe in the fact that you are now husband and wife.
  • As level headed as you try to be, you're going to have some completely irrational bridal moments. Just accept it as truth. This is not because you're crazy, because all women are hysterical, or because you are somehow incapable of being the calm, cool, collected bride you want to be. It's because of the firehose. That much love coming your way at once is overwhelming. You want to live up to it, be worthy of it. But just accept that you will probably trip a couple of times - whether literally (over your own dress) or figuratively (I did both).
  • Everyone is going to step on your dress, all day. Literally all day. All over your dress. At least once, you will hear a huge "RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIP" and you will die inside just a little bit. Especially because it was the groom who did it (looking at you, Patterson).
  • People will be late. It doesn't really matter. Even the groom and groomsmen to the rehearsal. Still mad about it! But I'll stop. Eventually. Because it really didn't matter.
  • Your emotions will be so heightened that you will turn from serene love to absolute rage back to serene love at the flip of a switch. And that switch will be flipped a few times that day, or over that weekend. I guess, at the very least, it's a time of strong, intensely felt emotion. Is that a good spin to put on it? Maybe?
  • You'll feel as if no one understands. You're being a jerk, everyone understands.
  • You'll be a jerk. Or at least, you'll feel like a jerk. This will bother you for a while afterwards, but again, you're lucky, because everyone understands. At least, that's what you tell yourself.
  • You will remember almost nothing from your wedding day. Your wedding weekend, even. But, if you're like me, you'll be lucky, and you'll remember how happily and proudly you said your vows. And you'll remember how confident you felt in doing so.
  • You'll remember the first look in a way that makes you think you'll always remember the first look. You finally get to see your fiance (for a couple more hours) on the most important day of your lives so far, and he looks handsome, and you look beautiful, and you'll both start SOBBING before you even have a chance to look at each other properly because it's HERE and everything that you've been planning for months, for years even, has led to this one moment.
  • You will not get to spend even a fraction of the amount of time you want to spend with each person with them. Nothing will feel adequate - not if you're like me, and you want to express your love through truly being present with that person.
  • You will feel sad that you did not marry every single person there (funny, I know, but hear me out) had this ceremony to tell your fiance/spouse how much they mean to you publicly in front of all your friends and family. But you'll want a ceremony for each person there, to tell them how much you love and cherish each and every one of them. You hope that they know that you would definitely hold a ceremony to publicly vow to be there for them, for better or for worse.
  • You hope your bridal party knows that you chose them for reasons coming from your past, but also for reasons you anticipate in your future. You chose them because when you look back on your wedding day, you can't imagine not thinking about them as part of it. You stand up there giving your spouse your whole heart, and so you need your whole heart with you. You bring your bridal party up there with you because of the parts of your heart that live with them.  
  • Afterwards, you'll feel more exhausted (emotionally and physically) than anything you've ever experienced. Even if you've run a marathon or been through something traumatic. This was simultaneously the best and most challenging weekend of my life so far.

And you know what? It's just the beginning. I've said a bunch of times, I don't know how anyone gets married because the process of planning a wedding is SO HARD. So I don't understand how anyone makes it through that. But then, if you make it to the wedding, shouldn't you stay married forever, because you withstood the planning and didn't murder each other? We'll see, I guess. The divorce rate in this country disagrees wholeheartedly. I feel confident, though, because I love my husband, and not in a "you're my price charming" way. I love him in a "you clean up dog vomit at 3 am so I can keep sleeping" way.  I love him in a "I am actually not going to mention the fact that you left our brand new, wedding gift silverware sitting with a coffee stain on it on the kitchen counter literally directly on top of the dishwasher and next to the sink" (not going to mention it to him, I mean. He doesn't read my blog). Life is going to blow, and it's going to be awesome. Probably simultaneously. Life is going to be like trying to take a sip from a firehose, and I love him in a way where I want him to hold the firehose.