Names are important; at least I think they are to a degree. They define us in some inexplicable way. While first names often express our personality and shape us to a fairly significant level by giving us a unique identity, our surname is particularly important when it comes to our lineage, our heritage. It gives us a sense of belonging within our family or “clan” and places us within the history and story of those who have come before us and those who will follow. It identifies where we came from. What our background is. Who we are. What has been handed down from generation to generation. It provides connection. Continuity. And it can be a source of great pride. Or, as is in my case, a source of shame. I do not have a last name. I do not belong. I am disconnected and alone. Oh, I have a legal last name. But it is meaningless. It’s a name that is not mine. It used to be mine, at least to some extent, and I kept it even after my ex-husband left me for another woman. But I didn’t keep it because I wanted to hang on to him or to the name. Nor did I keep it because of some business reason or because it had sentimental value to me. Or because I had used it for 22 years. Or because it seemed more convenient. I didn’t have children, so that wasn’t a factor. It was not a matter of feeling pride or a connection with his name. Simply put, it was, or so it seemed at the time, the best alternative. The lesser of two evils. There was no good choice in my situation; no easy solution for my dilemma. I needed a name. His was handy. The other viable alternative, you see, was to go back to my maiden name. To take back the name of my parents. Specifically, the name of my father. The name of the two people who so badly and horribly abused me when I was a child in their care that I am struggling to this day to put the pieces of myself together again. This didn’t feel like a good option. My married name, though it had much hurt and pain attached, seemed like the better of the two alternatives, given the facts of the situation. Given the trauma. There was emotional damage attributable to both names, but the massive decimation from my childhood seemed a good indication that my current (married) name would be the better choice. Even though both options grieved me. The only other option was to choose some random name that had no meaning or significance whatsoever and at the time, I was too wounded and broken to be creative enough to come up with something out of the blue. So I kept my married name. Now, several years down the road from the decision, I regret having done so. I wish I had tried harder to come up with something that held some / any kind of meaning to me…even though I still can’t think of a name that makes sense. As it is, I don’t feel that I have a last name. Neither my maiden or married name is of any consequence. Neither one really belongs to me. I don’t belong to either one. But I don’t know what else to call myself, so I go by my ex’s last name and cringe nearly every time I use it. It feels hollow and empty. It underlines the fact that I’m alone. In my heart, I don’t have a last name. In my heart, I am Robin No Name. I do not belong. Why is belonging, having a last name that means something, so important? I don’t really know, to be honest. But there is a hole in me because I feel that I am nobody. I don’t want to be identified with who I was when I was married (unhappy, unloved, unwanted, uncared for), nor do I want to be identified with who I was when I was my parent’s child (abused, rejected, unloved, destroyed). I hate being associated with either family name. But who am I? What name could I select that would bind me to something bigger than myself? What name could I choose that would have even a sliver of meaning? That would feel right to my heart? No one claims me. No one names me. No name defines me. I am Robin No Name.