As some of y’all might know, Willow is not my real name. Nope, I chose that name for myself a while back. I’ve mentioned this once or twice in this blog and wrote about it in my previous blog. I figured I would write about it here too. Because why not? Instead of just reblogging my previous post, I’ll regale you again with the story of how and why I changed my name. For those of you who have heard this story before, well, you get to hear it again. 😛 Sit back, dear reader, you’re in for a bumpy ride. Just kidding, it’s not that much of a tale, and it’s all ancient history at this point. But hey, you still might find it interesting. Here goes…
About eleven years ago (I totally cannot believe it’s been that long), I was kind of dating this psycho. In my defense, I didn’t know he was psycho when I met him. I want y’all to understand something. This man and I knew each other online for almost seven years before we met. He totally did not come across as psychotic the entire time we were chatting online (and it was strictly platonic online… we were just friends). I would have never offered to meet him, let alone invited him into my home if I had thought he was in any way as unbalanced as he turned out to be. As it turns out, he was mentally unstable — he claimed to be bipolar, and he was self medicating with alcohol and heavy doses of antihistamines (yes, you read that right). Now, I have bipolar myself, so I’m as sympathetic to the disorder as the next person, but get two mentally interesting people in the same house… and things get weird. Anyway, I totally did not invite him to come live with me. I invited him to stay the weekend one time, and he never left.
Let me tell you something, dear reader, if someone is determined to stay in your home, it is impossible to get them out. Unless you are physically capable of removing them yourself, your only recourse is to kill them or move. Trust me in this, I speak from experience – – the police are useless in this situation. All he did was tell them he was paying rent (he wasn’t) and it became a “domestic situation” and they left. Twice. He wasn’t even on the lease! But that didn’t matter. Since I’m not a violent person, I was out of options. So yeah, a psycho moved into my apartment and I had to make the best of a bad situation. He made himself at home and set about systematically ruining my life (I lost two jobs, had to sell my car, &c…) and pushing away my family. All the while he was pushing me to the brink of madness despite my being medicated. After about six months, he felt comfortable enough to wrap his hands around my throat one night. As is evidenced by me writing these words today, he didn’t accomplish his intended goal of whatever it is he meant to do… whether he meant to actually kill me or intimidate me, I don’t know. I broke free and locked myself in the bedroom and… it was a weird night. The next morning when he was at work, I packed a bug out bag and skipped town. Me being the paranoid person I am, I had planned for this exact scenario. I told no one where I was going and just took off. My psycho ex has a long memory and holds a grudge for a very long time.
So, I skipped town and went underground. Being poor is sometimes a good thing because it means I didn’t have any credit cards in my name. And I bought mostly burner phones — so no utilities. I rented rooms and apartments from private parties so no credit checks &c… But there are still those pesky things like driver’s licenses and voter registration. Eventually, with enough time and energy, he would be able to track me down if I kept my papers up to date. I mean, it’s totally easy to have a pseudonym online, but in real life, not so much. Anyway, about two or three months after I left — finally we get to the name part! — circumstances aligned in just the right order that I could attend a little podunk college in Mississippi where I figured he would never even consider looking. And honestly, he didn’t believe I was intelligent enough for college anyway, and he knew I didn’t have the money to attend college, so there’s that. It was the perfect place to hide for four years. So anyway, one morning in early the wee hours, I was writing a paper for one of my English classes, (because isn’t that the best time to string words into coherent sentences with perfect grammar?) and I kept misspelling within to withing. After about the twentieth time, I wondered if withing meant anything, so I looked it up in the OED. Man, I miss having unlimited access to the OED. Anyway, it does. It means “willow”, more specifically a willow twig, but willow twig doesn’t make a good name. I was looking for an online name due to the above predicament, and Willow was kind of perfect. It’s far from my birth name — like all the way on the other side of the alphabet — and I think it suits me better.
And so, I became Willow. Online, at least… for a little while. Eventually I changed it legally. And now I am Willow reborn. So much has changed since the day my psycho ex wrapped his claws around my neck. I still have a fear that he’ll find me and exact retribution for leaving him (because how dare I?). As I said, his memory is long and he holds grudges forever. But it’s not the constant fear it was when I packed my bag and ran. It’s been eleven years after all, and a lot has changed. I’ve changed. The world has moved on, and life in general shifts around us. Right now, I am Willow, and in this moment in time… I’m doing okay. That’s good enough for me.