Friday, June 29, 2012

An Identity.......Crisis? I Think Not!

Until I was 18 years old, my name was Patricia Kaye Marcum.  At 18, I was all set to get my driver's license. I had my Social Security card. I had my record of Driver's Ed. I only needed my birth certificate and I was all set.  So, my mom gave that to me and I was ready to get my license. I was excited! I'd already bought a car.  Then, I looked at my birth certificate.  Wait a minute.  "Uh......Mom?"  I was very hesitant to ask my mother to explain my birth certificate. I was always hesitant to ask my mother anything.  Not because she was unavailable; quite the contrary. It was because she always had so much on her plate; I simply hated to bother her.  She was raising eight kids under the horrid shadow of our dad's violence brought on by alcoholism.  I hated to add problems to her already full plate.

But my birth certificate presented a problem I felt she might be able to explain, or at least shed some light on. So, I asked, "Uh.....Mom? What does this mean?  This isn't my name."  It read, "Patricia Ann Marcum."  Not my name.  

She looked at the birth certificate, frowned, then smiled and said, "Oh!  That's right! I forgot about this. The nurse made a mistake on your birth certificate and I completely forgot to change it."

"You forgot?"

"Yeah. It's no big deal. You are Patricia Kaye, though."

"Well," I responded, "Uncle Sam thinks I'm Patricia Ann since my birth certificate says so.

"Don't be silly. You are not Patricia Ann! I think the song Patty Ann was playing on the radio when the nurse filled out your paperwork. I named you Patricia Kaye, so you are Patricia Kaye."

"Mom, I can't be one person on a birth certificate, then another person everywhere else!"

Mom just smiled and patted my hand and said, "You'll figure it out."

So, I filled out paperwork for the IRS and had my Social Security card and record changed to match my birth certificate. It costs a lot to change a name legally and I've never felt justified in spending money on that, so I legally became Patricia Ann.  

Thus began my confusion over my name. To this day, when someone asks my full name, I hesitate for a few seconds till I decide which one to use in that given situation. Just last year, my 14-year-old said, "Mom, what's your full name?" I immediately asked him if he could please ask me an easier question.  Then, noting his confused look, I told him the story of my name.

When my mother died, my oldest sister was settling her estate and there was often paperwork all eight of us kids had to sign.  All the paperwork my sister sent to me read, "Patricia Kaye Marcum Johnson" and I signed them accordingly.  When the final piece of paperwork was sent, signed and sent back, I called my sister and told her that wasn't my legal name. She had no idea.  I didn't tell her earlier so as not to cause issues with the settling of the estate; I didn't want her to have to change all the paperwork.

To this day, every single time I have to use my legal name for any sort of documentation, I mutter under my breath, "That's not my real name," and I feel a little better.

Today, I read an excellent essay by Dr. Kevin Bauder, all about identity and idolatry. It touched my heart because it reminded me of my real identity not being tied up in a name, right or wrong, but in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Praise be.

It's a good read. I recommend it, even if you have no identity crisis....:)

1 comment:

  1. I guess I'm lucky since I'm Korean...we don't have middle names, and Korean women traditionally don't change their family names after they get married haha