If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen the other day that I had asked the Twitterverse how difficult it was to change one’s name by deed poll (it turns out that it’s actually very easy, if logistically something of a pain in the arse).
I have been thinking about changing my surname for ages – at least two years. During that time I’ve been fairly to absolutely sure of the new name that I would adopt, and I think I have thought through all the ramifications of the whole thing properly.
Despite what many people think, there is no official or central register of name changes in the UK. Theoretically, you can simply write a letter yourself stating your intention to use a new name, though that tends not to work much in practice when you involve banks and passport agencies and the like. The lack of such a register means that you have to inform everyone yourself – preferably using certified copies of your deed poll – of your new name.
This includes passport agencies, driving licensing authorities, the health service (and specific services therein that you use), banks, credit and ‘store’ cards, insurance companies, utility companies, pension companies – the list goes on. That’s not even considering your personal contacts. It’s a profound logistical hassle.
But, for me, it is worth it. I have long since hated the fact that I have links to my father via my name, as of course the man was a detestable piece of shit. This was exacerbated after the whole kerfuffle over V’s will; I don’t want to share the same name as my American relatives either, after them virtually glorifying my ‘father’ and then stealing my bloody money. I want to sever connections with that whole side of the family absolutely and completely, and this gesture is a symbolic way of doing so.
Furthermore, my surname is a completely shit one. So much so that it was the brunt of endless verbal pestering when I was at school, which wasn’t exactly fun (not that that was what made me so inherently miserable there, but the name-calling and teasing certainly didn’t help).
I haven’t discussed changing my name with with C, although I probably should. Perhaps this can be touched upon briefly tomorrow. I did discuss it in some detail with Margaret, the CBT therapist I saw in 2008, and she felt that if I was prepared to go through the hassle of informing everyone, that changing my name could bring some “closure” [hate that word] on the many mental health issues I have that are attributable (at least in part) to V. To be honest, I think that’s a very simplistic way of looking at it – changing my name is not going to change what he did to me, nor to my mother. However, it’s one thing I can do to publicly acknowledge that I want no part in his legacy. A token gesture, some might say, but I think it’s an important one.
I determined towards the end of last year that if I was going to do it, I was going to do it in 2010. So yesterday (as intimated last night on Twitter) I took a deep breath, filled in the online deed poll application, and – after dithering a bit – hit ‘submit’.
The lack of a central register means that my name is not changed at all until I sign and date the deed poll (which should be with me by early next week), and in practice it remains unchanged until I send the certified copies to the aforementioned agencies and they update their systems, my cards, etc. But I’ve taken the first step – and as I said, it’s a big step, in my view, as I have lived with this name for over 26 years.
I’m really nervous about what I am doing, but it’s a new start in a kind of symbolic way, and to that end I’m terribly excited too.
So up yours, V, and up yours, V’s family, for contributing to my being completely batshit mad. Shortly I will have no links with you whatsoever other than my mother and genetics, and I cannot wait.