All of my life my friends and family have called me Mary Ann. My parents named me Mary Ann Dummeier, with Mary being my first name, Ann being my middle, and Dummeier my family name. Dummeier (pronounced Do-My-Er) is one of those German surnames that is difficult to track, difficult to pronounce, and easy to be the brunt of many jokes. If you do a Google translate on it, it comes up as "idiot." I think it's hilarious. Dummeier is a very unique last name and I'm proud to say it's mine. My father has always had this wonderful sense of humor that he passed onto me. He has always been playful and funny. One Christmas he wrapped up the dirty laundry in a big box with my real gift taped to the bottom.
My first name, Mary, came from my family too. My grandmother and my aunt (my father's mother and sister), both have the first name Mary, but neither of them go by it. My grandmother goes by her middle name, Loraine. My aunt combines her first name and middle initial, going by Mary D. None of my family has ever gone by Mary. My father and my brother go by their middle names as well...with their legal first names being Charles.
Mary has never settled well with me, when people call me Mary it's like nails on a chalkboard. The name Mary translates to "bitter" or "sea of bitterness" and can be traced back to Egypt. That's exactly how I've always felt about being called Mary, bitter. My mother's middle name was Ann. So it seems I was named after my family entirely, and while I love them with all my heart Mary has never suited me. My mother described me as the happiest child she had ever known, an easy baby, and a joy. I don't hold any bitterness for very long. It's just not who I am.
Over the last 21 years, I've been sequentially married to three different men. I've been Mary Ann Bravo, Mary Ann Lippincott, and finally Mary Ann Dube. All three marriages were rampant with difficulties. It wasn't until this last marriage ended I finally let go of all the bitterness that came with marriages that didn't work out.
In December of 2020, I moved into a new neighborhood, a new school district, and a beautiful new apartment that I absolutely adore. It was that choice that pushed me forward into the most amazing transformational journey. I'm an outgoing introvert. I love people, but I've always needed time and space to regroup. The COVID pandemic catapulted me into a work from home situation that gave me the most beautiful gift...quiet time to heal.
Now, 11 months after my decision to move I've learned how to love myself fully. I've taken a new job and I've started to see life in a whole new light. I've embraced my shadow. I looked deeply into my being for the pain that was hiding and brought it into my awareness. That single act of awareness taking away the power it had over me. I've started to allow my inner child, that part of me that has been hiding, to sing and dance, to play the piano and to simply start living again. I've never felt more alive. I've never felt more like me.
When you get a divorce you're given the opportunity to return to your maiden name or keep your name. Many people keep their former married name because it's easier and/or they have a child whose name is the same. When I married my third husband, I took his name. I've always thought it was just what you did to make yourself whole with them. After all, my mother took my father's name. I had no idea I would be married three times.
Now as my third divorce is coming to an end, I'm keeping his name for now. Not because I want to continue to carry his name, the memories, or his energy...but because I'm going to change my name to something that feels more like me. I've always been called Mary Ann, but it seems masculine and hard to me. So I've decided to make Marianne my first name, softening the way it looks and feels. Marianne is my name.
The search for a new middle name proved to be a challenge. I had remembered asking my mother once if my name hadn't been Mary Ann, what I would have been called...and she told me Elizabeth. So my new middle name will be Elise, which is a variation of that name. Marianne Elise is feminine and soft and it makes my heart so happy. It reflects who I feel I am on the inside. A little girl who likes to wear dresses and curl her hair and gather wildflowers. A little girl who plays with the ladybugs under a big pecan tree, where my father put my very first tree swing. A little girl who loved her Barbie dolls, and horses, and magic. That's who I really am.
I'm keeping Dummeier. It makes me laugh and fills my heart with love. Once my divorce is finalized, I'll request that my name be changed to Marianne Elise Dummeier. A true reflection of the person I was always meant to become.