Identity Crisis

Written by Hollye Dexter

August 22, 2010

Help! I woke up this morning and don’t know who I am. This is something that has been puzzling me for quite some time. I’m only talking about my name, right now anyway.
I’ve just finished my book, plus a few essays and what not, and I’m starting to put my work out into the big wide world, but I have a dilemma. Do I go by the name that’s on my birth cerificate – Hollye Fisher? That’s the name my mother told me I must never tell anyone about nor admit to (since my father was in prison) but I want to finally say it out loud and proud. I mean, it’s the real me. I think? One of the many things I hate about being a girl (and that’s an issue I’ll save for another blog) is that we just drift from one man’s family name to another, with no true roots as to who we are. My mother had her father’s name, I had my father’s name, then my stepfather’s name, then my first husbands’ name, now my husband’s name which is his father’s name….AAAAAAGH….who am I? I mean, who am I really? I find the whole marital, name-taking thing really odd. I remember the first time I started getting cards addressed to Mrs. Troy Dexter. I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I had become chattle, like some Victorian woman destined to a life of needlepoint and etiquette lessons. So why did I take that name? I’m not a Dexter. I’m a Fisher. But take that theory a step further, why only my fathers name? I mean, my maternal grandmother was a Kindred. I came from two people, a blending of two family lines…so WHO AM I?
I talked to my husband about it. I said, maybe its not about who I am, because look at all the family names involved in the making of each of us. Maybe it’s more about….who do I WANT to be?
And he said, “Oh go ahead. Be Hollye Baldwin.”
Of course I cracked up. Yes, I am innocently obsessed with Alec Baldwin, but there is no one I’m more obsessed with than Troy, and I love being his partner for life. And he loves me absolutely, but that doesn’t mean he carries my name (whatever my name is). So why do we, as women, have to keep changing who we are, dropping our own identity and heritage in lieu of our husbands and fathers?

And more importantly, WHO AM I? I have to put a book out, and those people expect you to have a name. Ugh!

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  1. Amy Loewy

    You are you…no matter the name.

  2. Anonymous

    I love this Hollye…for I am currently just as confused. I have been doing a lot of family geneaology lately and have discovered a whole slew of family names I never knew existed on both sides. Names like Bierman, Cauffman, Schroder, Kortekamp and Wehemeier. Then there are the Marion's, the Felt's and the Bath's. My birth name is Butler, though my father's real name is Hinsey, my stepfather's name is Wiltshire, but I chose to keep my formerly married name of Thomas yet my partner's name is Kirtley. Such a dilemma…All I really know is my first and middle name which are etched in stone. One good thing, if I ever need an alias, I have a heck of a lot of names to choose from!

  3. Anonymous

    Loved this blog.
    I posted to your FB page but
    I am still ME with an add on. It works for me.
    I do not care if you marry at 15 or divorce 10 times you still have a birth name.
    And yes there are many reasons why some would not want to use their birth names I just do not happen to be one of them but know a few.

    Does anyone (men especially-realize how many forms ask for your maiden name!! no matter what your age or marital status. Drives me nuts.

    My nephew just married this past Spring.
    He is 29 she is 27
    they are
    both professionals not that what anyone does for a living should matter either.

    She kept both her names which I think is great. I am still not sure how my nephew feels about it but too bad.

    And your point Hollye about other generations is well taken we actually come from two beings with names then add on two maternal the two paternal.
    Gotta love it.
    I often refer to my Grams married and maiden name.

    Oh hell we are all related in one way or another. Welcome Sister!!♥

  4. Debbie

    I didn't marry until I was 39 so I was always Debbie Martinez. My middle name is my mother's maiden name. When I married, it took me a long time to get used to being Debbie Nunez. And now I regret not keeping my maiden name but then my entire name would have been Deborah Salicdo Martinez Nunez. Doesn't sound right. When I was little I used to wonder why my mother's name was Mrs. Abel Martinez … to me it was like she didn't exist in her own right … that made me sad for her … I was only 6. So if you wanna be Hollye Baldwin BE Hollye Baldwin. And I'll be Debbie Mortensen. And my husband, of course, will be Viggo… in my dreams girl, in my dreams …


  5. Anonymous

    See…the really cool thing here is that whatever name you choose…doesn't really matter…you're Hollye…very specific to ALL of us…we know exactly who you are…and YOU know who you are…for today…oh beautiful one…who do you want to be besides "Holly?" You choose!…Linda…I can only be posted as anonymous…that's worse!

  6. Anonymous

    Hollye, I was married at 19 and of course took my husbands last name but made my maiden name my middle name and lost my given middle name. I was married more than I was single and now I am single more than I was married but now I am used to Woods and my kids have Woods. That was a made up name by my ex's Dad who was a Jewish Writer during the time when Jewish comedy writers were discriminated against so he picked the most non Jewish name and now we all have it. My Dad had two girls so Stein ended so I picked it up again. Now it is just easier to be Madge Stein Woods. I love Hollye-why not add all the names for effect. Or like share just be Hollye. My girlfriend who passed away and her husband picked a new last name because each one wasn't crazy about their own. Do what moves you.

  7. Deb

    When I got married I kept my name. I feel so much like my name, even though it is my Dad's name. But it has been my name since I was born and it's good for me. But I agree. I could no more become my husbands name than fly to Mars. Then who would I be? Fall in love, get married and zap-pod person-she who must be renamed. When I was expecting our son, my husband said that he was fine with him having my last name and I was so touched that I gave him my husband's. Guess he knew what he was doing huh? But I say, start now. From right here. Take the name that feels like you and carry on with it.

  8. Deb and Barbara

    Hey Hollye,

    Back to weigh in too! I love your name in all its incarnations. I think Holly Fisher is great, so is Hallye Dexter, and so is Hollye Kindred. But you're probably not fully trying to define yourself through your name, but rather trying to define your writing identity. And that's a different conundrum… You are Hollye one way or the other.



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