I needed to broach a tender subject which, until now, I didn’t know how to open: my name. 

When I was married to my first husband, I used both of our last names. It was a progression for me. It seemed socially safer to use both names rather than keep my given family name.  William Shakespeare’s doomed Romeo proclaims, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – as if a name doesn’t matter. It does matter. 

When I married my beloved current husband, I made a con-scious decision to keep my given birth name, Linda Rosenthal.  I don’t use his last name at all.  Never.  Yet, many people ad-dress me as “Mrs. William Fries” or “Linda Fries.”  It bothers me a lot. 

We live in a conservative part of Michigan.  I think my retaining my last name is par-ticularly confusing and upsetting to males in the area.  Many of them insist on referring to me as “Mrs. Fries” or introducing me to others as “Linda Fries.”  At times I patiently correct them. Other times let it go. Ultimately, it’s not my job to take care of them. 

Yet, it does matter to my sense of self.  The men seem to take glee in using my husband’s last name to address me.  I feel as though my choice somehow insults them and they want to trigger me.  They want to put me down, put me in my place. 

I notice these men never ask my husband what he thinks.  It’s never bothered him.  But it apparently bothers them! All I can think is that it involves their insecurities.  (There seems to be a lot of that going around.  With me, too.)

I travel to the beat of a dif-ferent drum. Over the years, I have felt marginalized enough for my choices and beliefs.  But, it’s who I am.  My name is Linda Rosenthal.  Period.

Linda Rosenthal (Jan. 21) adds, “I am happy to be saying this.  I struggle so much with conflicts.  This is big stuff for me, going against my people-pleasing past. I need to speak up about my feelings more. I get further down the road, spir-itually, when I open up these boxes.” 


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