What’s in a Name?
I was once ashamed of my name, the weight of a childhood of hidden pain wrapped tightly in its grip.
So ashamed that I allowed a stranger to strip me of it. Laid naked and vulnerable, I allowed him to take me away. He controlled who I was, he set me on the path that almost killed me. Yet death was not ready for me.
And I escaped.
Years would pass as I tried to wrestle with who that girl of another name was until one day I met one that I loved more than myself.
That’s how I knew falling in love.
Loss of self.
He asked me to marry him after some time and when I said yes, this time a small voice said...claim your name. Without knowing why yet I did just that. Claimed my name.
It was long and seemingly cumbersome, or so many would say.
But it was mine and it felt like silky satin, flowing into my soul.
A bond, not an ownership.
It was all the names that were mine even if I did not know how they were supposed to be mine.
Until I did.
That day would not come for some 11 years.
Through times when I doubted it was to be mine. Through the pain of others disregarding this name that was mine, is mine, is me.
Through facing and battling the pain-filled past, and journeying through the hard healing.
Through losing and then remembering exactly who the fuck I am and have always been.
Through learning that loss of self was never love, love of self is, and that love can be learned.
All because of My name.
The fit is even stronger now as the words begin to beat out of my chest. A heart beat for a heart song of a woman coming into her own.
This is my name, this is me.
I speak up and out for this name and I challenge those that continue, even now, long past time for me and my name to be accepted.
You were married, they say, so you are his.
No, loves, I am not.
That was your choice, not mine.
I chose love, not ownership.
I chose a partner, not to be claimed.
I chose my name.
You will call me by my name now.
As I call you by yours.
Your excuses for your disrespect will fall into the trash can of the other lived scars I bear that you pretend are not there.
And with my name and scars I am more beauty and strength and passion and grit than you have ever known.
My resilience permeates each word that seeks the light from the darkness that can no longer restrain me.
I am Jessica Lee Groves-Chapman.
That is my name.
Do not fear it, or me.
Celebrate with me.
For there is such freedom in the naming of ourselves, the claiming of the name that is ours.
I ask you, what is your name?
More importantly, is it truly yours?
where we tied the knot (literally, in a hand-tying ceremony written by us for us) on June 12th, 2010.