In a recent article I read, it’s wise and suggested to get people used to your new name before you actually go and change it, because it helps to create habit and allows them to ease into it rather than having to suddenly call you something different.
I mean, it’s been three years, and people still call me “Sarah” instead of “Liz”, but agh… I’m working on it, I guess.
I just changed my Twitter handle from @iLizdarling to @thejanelively, and right after doing so, I felt a feeling I’ve never felt before.
I teared up.
I felt uneasy.
I felt right.
I instantly went to Google to look up some way to describe it—it’s peaceful and serene, and all is right and whole, and the hole is completed. I call myself “Jane” in my head, but somehow, to actually have it as my Twitter handle now—with plans to use it—feels warm. I feel like I’m being hugged.
I feel like crying happy tears—I always used to think people were being dramatic, but I think I get it now.
I’ve been getting frustrated with the @iLizdarling handle, as it was a “just because” thing because I was sick of @ouslyme, which I’m now saving for a secret project literally no one will know about until it comes to light, but mostly because I realised @ijanelively was available—and claimed it on my old, forgotten Twitter account for What Liz Eats—and just wanted to use it ever since. It was like a thing I felt I needed to wait for, but apparently…
Apparently, I don’t.
Apparently, it’s recommended that I go ahead and start going by Jane, so long as I still use my legal name where necessary and don’t try to escape any debts I may have and commit fraud.
I’ve always thought I needed to find myself as Sarah Elizabeth Lawson, and with that, I struggled. I never felt complete—I never felt quite alright with anything, and I always felt like a stranger in this body. It’s my body, but people call it “Sarah”, and mentally, I don’t at all relate or respond to that. I hear it, and I don’t think of myself—I think of someone else.
I mentioned to my therapist (when I was seeing her) that I felt like I wasn’t myself. I explained that I felt like I shifted between different personalities—that I had no clue who Sarah was and didn’t understand why I was being referred to by the name. I told her how I felt in Wills Point during the Dark Years (2011-2012; first half of 2013): I felt like I was standing outside of my body, watching what was happening to my body and unable to stop anything. And then, time would pass, and I’d have no recollection of what I did. And I didn’t understand it, but no matter what, I knew I was not whomever this Sarah person was that I was expected to be. I explained that I was extremely unhappy being referred to as Sarah, that I would cut myself to make sure that I was in the same body people call “Sarah”, and that I was really in the present.
Because it didn’t feel real.
Before I had to stop seeing her due to financial reasons, we were going to devise a way to get family to see and understand that I needed them to stop calling me “Sarah” in order to heal, because I have completely dissociated from that name. Because it’s not my name. Perhaps it was before, but PTSD has fried a lot of my brain—I don’t remember a lot from my childhood, save what is remembered courtesy of triggers.
And maybe it’s cheesy and lame how big a difference a mere Twitter handle can make, but this feels real. It feels whole, and that missing piece (and peace) I was searching for is this, I think. Because now that I’ve felt this, I know in my heart and my head that changing my first name is what I need to do in order to heal, finally feel like myself, and stop feeling so damn lost in a body people don’t see as mine, but as this other person’s whom I don’t remember meeting and don’t feel I like.
Therefore, you can call me by the agreed upon nicknames from “Elizabeth”, or even “Jane” or “J”… just never “Jay”. Gosh, please not “Jay”. (“Jelly” is also fine. Because J.E.L. will soon be my initials…)
My name on Facebook will be changed later, near December. 🙂
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