Hello, and welcome to my new blog. It’s time to not so much introduce myself, but to re-introduce myself. My name is Deborah Siddoway. It is important to say that because until recently, Deborah Siddoway was in hibernation. She was hidden away as if she didn’t exist, put into a grave of her own making when she married. Instead, she lived her life as Deborah Barker, taking a name that was not her own so that she could share her family name with her children. In retrospect, as I look back over both the joy and the heartache that came with my marriage, taking my husband’s name was a mistake.
Yet, when my marriage shattered, I held on to that name because it gave me a tie to my children, and I believed it meant something to share a name with them. But there comes a point when you realise that you can no longer hold on to something when it is holding you back, no longer represents what you are or the person you want to be. For me, that moment came at Christmas last year.
It was one of the most joyless Christmases I have ever experienced, with my ex-husband and I coming together in my home to try and give our children a family Christmas. Except, the problem was, we were not a family anymore. Our family had fractured, ripped apart by his frequent infidelities, one of which resulted in my husband having a child with another woman. And while my ex-husband and I were valiantly striving to set aside our differences and come together for the sake of our children, his extended family were hosting his former mistress and his lovechild (a term I take serious issue with, but that would be a blogpost for another time) for a “family” Christmas. A “family” Christmas to which my children and I were not invited, even though they had called me family for many years. To be fair to them, they would probably say that they did so for the benefit of the “lovechild”, and that it was impossible for them to invite me and my children to join them given that I could not be in the same room as the woman who knowingly put herself in the middle of my relationship. Still, they made a choice. And that choice excluded me and my children.
It was then that I realised, that much like the animals in Animal Farm who were not really equal, I was not really family to them. They may as well have plastered on their Christmas cards that all family is family, but some family is more family than others. How could I keep a name that was theirs? With this thought in my mind, as the new year beckoned, I resolved to reclaim my own name, and forge my own way forward.
But before I did, I asked my boys whether or not it would bother them were I to change my name. My youngest said that no matter what I was called, I would always be just Mum to them (and then, with that cheeky smile of his that I love so much, added that he would have to learn how to spell Siddoway later).
I announced on social media that I would be reverting to my maiden name, and making the change on Twitter and Facebook from Deborah Barker to Deborah Siddoway was strangely freeing. But as I did so, it made me question who I was and what was important to me. And as I mulled over the awful Christmas I had just experienced, I knew I needed to go home, to where my own extended family lives. The North was calling to me. And I was ready to answer that call.
So as I write these words, I have found a beautiful home in Northumberland, selling my house in Dorset, and still trying to deal with the red tape that comes with changing your name. It is easy enough to change your name upon marriage, although it does required some patience. If I had any idea how difficult it was to change my name back again, I probably would have never buried Deborah Siddoway in the first place. I have had to sign a deed poll where I absolutely and entirely renounce, relinquish and abandon the name of Deborah Barker. When I executed the deed I wanted to weep. But they were not tears of loss or sadness. They were tears of joy.
And now I, Deborah Siddoway, am here, resurrected, Lazarus like, from that grave that Deborah Barker had made. And Deborah Siddoway is ready to find her own happiness, forge her own path, and tell her own stories. Deborah Siddoway was silent for so long. On these pages, she will, I will, find my voice.