A little about my name…

Why I chose this name and what the significance of that decision was for me…

My first name came from my mother’s mother. My middle name came from my father’s mother. Her name was Clara but my mother changed it to Claire so there wouldn’t be the repeated “a’s”. I thought it was cool to be named after both grandmothers.

During my 20s, I was very conflicted about my last name. During that time I worked hard to answer so many questions I had about sex roles and sexism and my identity as a person. To say that I was confused is an understatement.

When I got married, I accepted my new husband’s last name which was Zengage. After the marriage ended and when it came time to decide what to do with my last name, I really struggled. Of course, I knew that Zengage was “his” last name. But, the alternative was to take back my father’s last name – another man’s name. I didn’t feel any connection to my father or his name. I didn’t really like how my first name sounded with my father’s last name; it had too many vowels – in addition to being my father’s name. My father didn’t value me and in fact, I was pretty conflicted about him. So, I didn’t really want his name.

For a while I seriously considered making up my own name. Blu is the name I was considering. It was my favorite color. It reflected the sadness I felt at the time. And, it was very short. If I was Lea Blu, my full name would only be 6 total letters which, for some strange reason, really appealed to me.

But then, I also liked the name Zengage because it started with the letter “z” which I liked. And, I liked the idea of “gaging the zen”. Hmmm….

But, the real reason is that I decided to claim the name Zengage as my own is because I wanted / needed to be able to assert myself as an individual with the right to take ownership of all decisions about who I was and that included what my name was.

I knew that everyone would always see me as “keeping my husband’s name” but I decided to accept that consequence.  I made my own independent choice, for my own reasons, to claim that name as my own because I could.  I had the right to decide what I wanted to be called and I exercised that right even though I knew there would be constant questions. At the time it was very important to me to claim that right even if most people wouldn’t understand and would see it in the “traditional” sense.

I made that choice almost 45 years ago. I still like it!

All that strain and struggle was just a small part of what I went through to learn my own value and to learn who I was and what I could do. All the name stuff was just part of the process of growing healthy and strong.


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