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stupid "identity"

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salty_lt2 posted 1/24/2014 21:32 PM

Hi all,

My Dday with OW#1 (EA/PA) was about 2.5 years ago, OW#2 (EA) was about 2 years ago- just for some history. Complete NC since with both APs, and IC for about 2 years now. I'd like to think we're solidly in R for those 2 years now, although the roller coaster has other ideas at times.

My BW has been struggling mightily lately, but it's not from anything in particular, as far as I can tell. It's just infidelity- the "gift" that keeps on giving .

Tonight, we discussed the use of my identity in everything that I do. For the past ~20 years, I've been known by a nickname. For the sake of discussion, let's say that it's "Benny." I'm 37, so that's longer than half my life. While my given name is "Ben," likely hundreds of people know me as "Benny," even a decade before my affair started. Given that, my APs called me "Benny," as everyone did- except my BW. She still calls me "Ben."

My BW stated tonight that she wants me to start using "Ben" again, for everything. I immediately argued with her, saying that she essentially wants me to change my identity. This isn't a phone number or email address to change- this is the real deal. I fought back. Hard. This was a name I had years and years before the affair. It doesn't have anything to do with the affair!

Except that it does. It turns out that almost everything that happens from here on out has something to do with the affair, and I respect that. Before she went to bed tonight, my BW told me that if I was another fWS on SI posting this, that I'd be near the first in line to tell them, "It's just a nickname- what does it matter? Make your BW feel safe!" That made me really stop to think. She's right. It's a stupid-ass nickname that caught on for 20 years. It doesn't effin' matter that much, does it? Sometimes, it's hard to tell since it's so intimately enmeshed with my identity. Wait- like my infidelity, perhaps? Hmmmm.

I'll do better next time. Thanks for listening out there...

Aubrie posted 1/24/2014 22:20 PM

I'm not going to say to ditch the name. It's your name. You had it for a zillion years before the affair. If you're going to change your name, you may as well take an acid bath and take off all your skin too as you also had a PA and are therefore completely contaminated. I mean, right?

I'd have fought for my name too. Even if it's "only" an nickname I had for 20+ years.

I see nothing wrong with her calling you Ben if that's what makes her feel better. I think her expecting you and everyone else that's known you a lifetime to do it too, is kind of unreasonable.

So you fought to keep the name. How do you feel about it now? You ditching it?

salty_lt2 posted 1/24/2014 22:36 PM

So you fought to keep the name. How do you feel about it now? You ditching it?

Honestly, a little conflicted. I know that my BW thinks that this is my "party" name. Because she knew me when this college phase was going on in my life, she also associates this name with those days.

However, the name stuck for a long, long time. If I started signing my emails and letters "Ben," it would be clear that people would be "Huh?" Not only that, my professional colleagues also know me by this name, and they would certainly take notice and ask questions.

But wait- what does it matter what other people think? Aren't I supposed to be 100% focused on the safety and comfort of my BW? I think I am, unless it's completely against my own safety and happiness. Right now, while my nickname isn't something that provides me happiness over my BW's safety, it also defines me. That's difficult to process.

My name didn't cause me to have an affair, but this is yet another trigger my BW didn't ask for, because that's what my AP called me. My goal in life right now is to try to help limit the triggers my BW and I face on a day-to-day basis, and if my name is getting in the way, then I'm really going to have to think about that. While it's "my" name, it's also not REALLY my name... I'm just having a really hard time seeing and feeling that trigger from my BW's point of view, but I do actually understand it.

While I also realize that I would be the one of first in line to tell a fWS to just drop the name to prevent a trigger, it's easy to dish out advice when it's not you!

PrideFallen posted 1/24/2014 22:50 PM

Was tonight the first time this has come up as an issue for her? It somewhat sounded that way from your initial description but if so it seems like a pretty big thing to have come up suddenly. If it really is a new demand, it seems like there might be something more behind it.

I understand why you're conflicted. It puts you in a tough spot.

Given how big of a change this would be for you, it obviously couldn't hurt to sleep on it (maybe for several nights) while continuing to talk it through.

salty_lt2 posted 1/24/2014 23:03 PM

Was tonight the first time this has come up as an issue for her?

Actually, no. I think this came up about a year ago, and I told her that I would "try." Obviously, I didn't try hard enough. I found that it's not as simple as giving up a habit- it's kind of like giving up WHO YOU ARE.

My affair absolutely doesn't define me (anymore), but this nickname certainly does define a major part of me.

Regardless, it was definitely an issue post-Dday, and it was raised only that one time. I clearly didn't do a good enough job in changing this, and I went back to what I was comfortable with in my identity (easy, right?). The surprise I felt tonight was due to the fact that this nickname issue was raised with very little connecting it to the larger argument. That can only mean that my BW has been "chewing" on this for a while without telling me... That must have been very painful for her.

mystified1970 posted 1/25/2014 01:04 AM

Can you get to the core of the name thing? How does it relate to the infidelity? This is interesting to me because my H also uses a kind of nickname. His real name is from another language and for some reason people look at him like he's from mars when he says it out loud, so he adopted an more Americanized name.

After the infidelities came out it's definitely bugged me a lot...his name. Without even realizing it I now always refer to him and call him by his given name. I guess I want him to be who he is, not the other person he was pretending to be. Does that make sense?

These things that come out in this process are confusing and troubling but I appreciate every step he takes toward helping me through this process.

Hope some of this makes sense. Finding that I ramble a LOT here!

hurtingfool posted 1/25/2014 06:08 AM

This is an issue I am coming up with somewhat. When I met my wife she was going by her middle name. When I got her first name, she told me she didn't like it much. After that I would occasionally call her by her first and her family and close friends call her by her first.

Now that she is in the military (we went by last name for the most part when I was in though I know each branch is different), it is her first or last name.

It hurt a bit knowing that the AP called her by her first name like a family member or close friend would. It's still early since I found out and I got a feeling this will be a trigger. She's trying to downplay it, but whenever we met knew people she always introduced herself by her middle name then added she didn't like her first.

Of course she doesn't realize why I have an issue with this.

Hrtbrken1 posted 1/25/2014 07:41 AM

Hi everyone. I'm the BW in this situation (hello, Sweetie), so I'd also like to give my point on this. Not to do a he said/she said, but I am concerned that I'm being unreasonable.

I do trigger with his nickname (he had it for 2 or 3 years before we started dating), because what I see becomes MOW saying it. Or writing it. Or moaning it during their, ahem, encounters. I do also see it as a reminder of his party days, when he was not so nice to me. This is 16 years worth of blameshifting in a name. Sounds ridiculous, right? In the end, I'm not going to continue fighting about it. It's not worth it. But to not see my point of view on it hurts my feelings. I'm not asking him to take an acid bath, just to listen to why I trigger so hard with a nickname.

For example, we had a friend who went by a nickname all thru grad school and afterwards. Until he got his "professional" job. Then he dropped it in a heartbeat. Why would this be any different? I understand that my FWH (hello again Sweetie) sees this as his identity, so I don't know what to do.

Advice, anyone? Is this unreasonable?

Thanks all. We appreciate it.

StrongerOne posted 1/25/2014 08:00 AM

Ditch the party boy, Affair guy name.

Go by your given name, or some other name that is mutually agreeable to you and your BW.

Anyone asks? You don't have to say anything. Or just, "I prefer Ben." Or, "Benny is associated with the party boy me."

The name is associated not only with your A, but also with many years of you being "not so nice" to your W.

It's not like she's asking you to take a new and embarrassing nickname to go by (Benny Wenny?!), or a name that has no associations for you and your life. She's asking you to go by your actual name, one that it seems has better associations for her.

If you can't make yourself change it -- why not? I mean that as real question, one you don't have to answer here.

You know, women change their names all the time for men. How is this different -- she's asking you to have a married name, so to speak...

ETA, fair disclosure, I'm a BS.

[This message edited by StrongerOne at 8:02 AM, January 25th (Saturday)]

mindbody posted 1/25/2014 08:08 AM

The OW's name is the same as mine. OW's nickname is also the same as mine. She was a co-worker of WSO. We used to laugh everytime she answered the phone. She would greet the caller with her name, then I would say "Hi _____, this is also ______. I considered her a friend and trusted (foolishly)WSO and OW at work. I also knew her BH.

I made the decision, and WSO agreed, to call me a different version of my name, one that my father liked when I was younger. We have slowly, but surely, been using the changed version with old and new adquaintances. Some of these people are friends of OW and I am sure they have associated the change with the aftermath of the A. To them, I really don't care what they think, the fact remains I no longer wanted to hear it.

My brothers and sisters and other close friends and clients that do not know about the A are willing to make the adjustment if it is important to me. No big deal to them, and it removes a reminder - one less trigger.

In R everyone talks about a new M or relationship beginnning after D-D. Well in our case it meant a new name too.

So I think I understand your BW's feelings and why she is asking you to do this. Those of us who choose R have to make many changes and adjustments. IMO your BW's request is not out of line or unreasonable. I'm for anything that can tilt the R scales favorably.

I've never thought of it as changing or losing my identity. There's so much more "under" the surface of my name that defines me. I, and I bet many BS/BSO, don't want to hear the OW's name. Apply this to your situation and see if you can understand (feel) your BW.

Hbk1: I just read your post and I hope you don't minimize your feelings on this matter due to other posts. I can hear how very important this is to you and your R.

[This message edited by mindbody at 8:18 AM, January 25th (Saturday)]

Jovie posted 1/25/2014 08:09 AM

I had a reallllly rough night last night with BH, so my thoughts on this are, do everything in your power to make your BS feel safe.

I can understand both points of view, but it's still just a name.

Hrtbrken1 posted 1/25/2014 09:28 AM

That's just it, I don't want to make this an "Oh eff it, it's just not worth pushing". Which is what happened the first time.

I figured if he just started signing his e-mails "Ben", no one would even think about it. I didn't realize he saw it as a whole "identity". One that was so hard to leave behind. I don't think he owes an explanation to anyone on why he would start going by "Ben", although Benny-Wenny does have a nice ring to it......

Wayflost posted 1/25/2014 09:58 AM

I'm going to give my opinion with a story:

When my husband and I got married I had a long internal debate about taking his last name. I grew up with a hyphenated name, and while that was occasionally a big pain, it was part of who I was. I really liked being the girl with the really long name. But, ultimately I realized that taking his name meant that I was publicly and outwardly claiming membership in his family. When I got my new drivers license I texted him that we were officially family.

However, I also rejected his name in a couple of ways. 1) I had "established" a reputation with my maiden name in my chosen career field. Because of what I do, I also thought it would be smart to make me harder to look up. 2) My BH found texts I sent to other people where I trashed his name. I don't recall the exact wording, but I said it didn't roll off the tongue, that the name itself wasn't attractive...

The really sad thing is that my BH was totally fine regardless of what I chose to do. He didn't care about the name change either way. I know that is part of what hurt him so badly about finding those texts. He again had to live with my rejection.

What's sad is that I just needed to talk to him about what I was feeling. My name had been so important to my identity. I needed to mourn the "loss" but I never should have trashed the new name. It was just another way I did not respect my marriage, did not have appropriate boundaries, and another way I was self destructively selfish.

My BH matters more to me than my last name ever will.

SlowUptake posted 1/25/2014 15:14 PM

Here's a thought.
Ditch the 'nickname'.
When people ask why.
Tell them "I decided it was time to grow up".
From your BS's perspective it won't be a lie.

"What's in a name? A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet".

[This message edited by SlowUptake at 3:22 PM, January 25th (Saturday)]

mystified1970 posted 1/25/2014 15:55 PM

Oy ((slowptake))...didn't expect a trigger here! Ahhh Rose the whore.

I do agree with slowuptake though, ditch the nickname for the exact reasons he said. Your life is quite different now, right?

Tickingtock posted 1/25/2014 17:46 PM

I can see why your gut reaction would be to fight her, but that's why you need to take a few minutes when your BW makes a post-A request.

I don't think changing your name is the same as bathing in acid. I'm assuming your wife changed her name when she married you? Then she got cheated on. Yay.

I think a lot of men give up nicknames when they grow up. I don't think people will think it's strange that a grown man is no longer going by "Benny."

SlowUptake posted 1/25/2014 18:07 PM

Sorry ((mystified1970)).
Can I make it up to you by wishing you a Happy Australia Day, because today everyone's an Aussie.

lostmylight55 posted 1/25/2014 18:38 PM

My name has a formal long version and a short form. My BW has always called me by my short name but AP insisted on using the formal version.

I trigger myself because of my name and no longer introduce myself using the formal version unless to do with business. Because of boundaries, I want to keep business a formal exchange. I make the effort to use the less formal version of my name because I hate being reminded of the incredible douche bag that I was and I associate that name with that version of myself.

I have a friend that still uses my formal name even though in all our communications I refer to myself and sign off my emails with the short version. I will keep trying though because it's important to me. I changed a lot of my appearance as well for the same reasons.

salty_lt2 posted 1/25/2014 20:44 PM

Thanks for the input, everyone!

Yep- it's just a name. A name that I got very used to over the past 20 years. A name that I really, really liked. I was comfortable with it. I don't actually like my "formal" name, and I mentally cringe when people use it. I have for a long, long time.

That's nothing compared to what my BW is going through when she hears that nickname, though.

I sent out three emails today. Two were signed "Ben," and the other "Benny," because it's habit.

I introduced myself as "Ben" to two new couples tonight.

Guess what? It was just fine. I'll keep on working!

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