July 6, 2020

Stacey Pomerleau | Why I changed my name

If I’m being fully transparent, I’d tell you my hands are shaking as I type this, while tears are rolling down my cheeks. I feel like I’m exposing a huge secret. One I’ve been keeping for more than a decade, and I know that sounds awful. It’s just there was a season of my life I lived in a very dark world. It’s a place very few people know the depths of, and a place that’s very hard for me to look back on. I have come so far, but I have let it hold me back in so many ways.

When Michael and I met, I had recently graduated from college and had big plans to move to Virginia. Up until today, I’ve told people it was because Virginia was the perfect place to start my business. But honestly, Virginia was the perfect place to hide from my past.

It wasn’t long after we’d started dating, and I was already painting his guest room purple with white swirls to match Brook’s big girl bedroom set. I loved that apartment because that’s where we became a family. It’s where we played dress up and had tea parties. It’s where Michael slowly gained Brook’s trust by watching cars on repeat every day until I got home from work. It’s where at the age of two Brook discovered her love of spicy food (just like her daddy). Leaning on the dryer wrapped up in Michael’s arm with tears in my eyes, it’s where I told him we were pregnant with Jackson. With slanted floors, a leaky bathroom ceiling, and all our hand-me-down furniture, it wasn’t much, but it will forever mean the world to me. That little three-bedroom apartment is the place I learned what being loved feels like. I finally found a person who would rather sit around a Little Mermaid table sipping fake tea (with a tiara on his head) instead of sliding up to a bar to play drinking games all night. I finally found a person who always showed up, even when it wasn’t convenient. I finally found a person who told me the truth, no matter how hard it was to hear. I found a man who is always honest, puts his family first and loves me even with all my flaws.

Fast forward to when Michael proposed, and we started planning our wedding. We didn’t start planning our wedding as most people do. You know finding a venue, trying on dresses, writing our vows, and creating a guest list. No, the first thing we did was find a lawyer… not very romantic, I know. But the thing I was most excited about was becoming Mrs. Pomerleau. I had been doodling that name in notebooks for years, and making it official was a dream that has yet to come true. For most brides changing their name is relatively simple. However, it wasn’t my name that was the challenge; it was Brook’s, our 5-year-old daughters. I left the lawyers’ office sobbing. I knew changing her name would be complicated, but having the option ripped away from me, was like someone sucked all the oxygen out of the room. My heart sank, and it felt like no matter how hard I tried, my past would always be lurking in the shadows waiting to steal all my joy. I’m not sure who was more devastated, me, or Michael. We shed so many tears, but ultimately we agreed the best thing for our family would be to have different last names.

Our official last names were not something we shared openly, not even with our closest friends. Not because we wanted it to be a secret, or because we felt ashamed, but because the pain of having a total stranger control so much of your life was too much to bear outside of the walls of our home. We let some people assume all of our last names were Pomerleau, and we allowed some people to think I’m a huge feminist and didn’t believe women needed to change their names. We let others use their imagination while we bore that pain alone. Every school year, when we had to fill out new forms, it was another gut-wrenching reminder. Every parent-teacher conference, those questioning looks from other parents at sporting events, the online order forms, renewals at the DMV, the salesman when we purchased our first new car, and every contract I’ve signed for my couples, all have been painful reminders.

Like most other things, adjusting to being a family with different last names eventually became easier, but it’s never felt normal. So, you’re probably wondering what changed? Why now? This past December, I attended a photography conference, held by Katelyn James (she’s a big deal in the photography world). During the conference, she told a story about renting a fishing boat in Alaska, and getting it stuck on a seemingly small rock for hours as the tide went out, and how they had to wait for the tide to come back in before they could move. At the end of her story, she asked what our rock was. What was holding us back not just in our business but in our personal lives? For me, it’s always been my name. I loved being an Anderson growing up. Our last name was used as a verb to describe who we were. I loved being an Anderson in my early 20’s, and when I had Brook, I was proud to give her my last name. But in many ways, it’s a name I’ve outgrown. It’s something that doesn’t always bring me joy, because now it’s a reminder of a dream I can’t quite have.

This name change may be a little confusing. I’m officially changing my business name to Stacey Pomerleau Photography, but my legal name will still be Stacey Anderson. So what’s the point? Why take this leap and let myself be so vulnerable? I have allowed my past to steal away too much of my joy for far too long. Today I’m taking that joy back. I’m not going to live a life of fear. I’m going to live a life filled with love! Will this season be hard? Yes, but with pain comes overwhelming strength. I’m so much stronger than I was nearly a decade ago. These last few years have almost felt as if I’m leading a double life, and that’s not the way I want to live. My life may be a little unusual, but my hope is, like Michael, you will love me even with all my quirks. 

My hands aren’t shaking anymore, and the tears in my eyes are from feelings of overwhelming joy. We are going to be the Pomerleau’s in every way we can, and are celebrating like you have never seen before!!

To learn a little more about me, scroll through my favorite things on my about page.

If you’re interested in the story that inspired me to change my name click here.

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