To Fresh Starts
It’s been so long since I decided to go by my new name that others have stopped asking why. But as I’m getting closer to making it legal I’ve been thinking about “the why” a lot more.
I don’t want to say it’s ineffable but for me it is hard to describe. Let me see if I can break it down for you.
I grew up in a very broken household. My parents got their first divorce when I was 11 and then from there it was complete mayhem. By the next year they had remarried. By the next year after that they had divorced again. The year after that they were remarried. The year after that they were divorced again. They got remarried again the next year. The year after that they just separated and then the year after that they got divorced for the last time.
I remember being angry a lot of the time. We moved constantly. I had to make new friends all the time and there were countless amazing opportunities I had to give up because we were moving yet again.
And it was all because my dad did bad things. I won’t go into the extent of what happened because he is still my dad and I am trying to reforge a relationship with him, but the divorces were very much his fault no matter how guilty he made my mother feel.
I’ve wanted to change my name since I was sixteen. Mainly back then it was to escape my parents. I’ve never told them this but the only way I coped with them my junior year was planning this elaborate plan to run away to Wales where I would change my name and they would never see me again. My name I had chosen back then?
It’s got a nice ring to it, right? Unfortunately, all my plans hinged on me graduating early that year which due to too many absences and missing assignments didn’t happen.
But I did open a discussion with my mother about wanting to change my name. At first she was shocked and a little hurt which I have to say is understandable. I was rejecting them. At least at this point I was.
She wisely told me to wait and make sure that I didn’t make a lifelong decision out of anger.
She had a point. And so I listened. I waited and waited. Hoping my anger for my parents would go away and I would be able to forgive them.
Four years passed and I was twenty. I had been living on campus at Arizona State for a year and had finally gotten the space I needed to let go of a lot of anger I had held onto.
Yet there was still this nagging in the back of my mind that wanted to change my name. But I fought it for the sake of my family. I wanted to stay connected to them and keeping the same last name was one way of doing that.
My dad had remarried to another woman. A woman that I liked very much. Sure it was a different dynamic but I liked it. I started visiting my dad a lot more and things were going well.
Of course, that’s when things go terribly wrong. My dad and my stepmom go through a terrible and very public divorce. My stepmom tells everything my dad did on facebook and I’m left shocked and horrified. I’m heartbroken because I had actually though my dad had changed and I had just started trusting him again.
The urge to change my name came back tenfold. But this time I had a legitimate excuse.
I was a singer. I had a music career going on. I was already thinking of changing my name just for the sake of having something that sounded better than Roxanne Whipple aka my real name. (Seriously, don’t ever call me Roxanne though. I will cut you with a knife.)
So my dad’s divorce to my stepmom was just a tipping point. I was changing my name. Now the question of “to what”?
The other big reason I had decided to hold off on changing my name was because of the fact that out of all my siblings, I was the one named after somebody else.
My dad when he was very little had an older sister. Unfortunately, when she was only 7 she was walking on the sidewalk when a drunk driver ran over the curb and struck and killed her. This affected my dad quite a bit growing up and he felt very inspired to name me after her.
Which was a lot of pressure for me.
But I found out that my Aunt Roxanne was named after her grandmother Roxie White.
Hence why I’ve decided to go by that name. I’m still keeping the family heritage, it makes for a great stage name, and I can still feel like my own person.
A lot of people after hearing this will decide that I’m changing my name out of anger or for a good stage name. And I won’t deny it, there is a little bit of that to it.
But there’s more.
When I finally decided to go by Roxie White, I felt liberated. I wasn’t weighed down by my parents’ failed marriages. I wasn’t weighed down with that anger anymore. I wasn’t associated with that anymore. I was my own person.
Changing my name was the way that I felt I needed to cope with that big part of my life. I could start fresh and make a different better life. I didn’t have to end up like my parents.
I could be a completely new person.
And I was. I am.
I have had my name changed only unofficially for the past two years. I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t feel any regret.
I recently started talking to my dad again and I finally told him I was changing my name legally and he went into the special meaning of why he named me Roxanne and you know what?
I didn’t feel a twinge of guilt or regret.
I knew I was finally ready to make the official change.
I’ve put in the final forms and by 2016, I’ll officially be a new person.
To fresh starts.