If there is one thing that definitely seems to irk me every time it happens during the holiday season over all the years I’ve been with my partner Chris, it’s whenever we receive a Christmas card addressed to us as: “Christopher Falbo & Andrew”.
Why does this irk me so much? Well, aside from the fact that I’ve been with Chris for almost nine years now, where one might think it be important to address a card to us with our full names after all these years of being together, those who continue to omit my last name are always family members and friends of his who have either met me many times before or have received cards back from us with my full name on them multiple times already. And even at the very minimum, it’s not too hard to locate my last name on social media these days because all of them have ties to either him or I on Facebook where my last name is clearly present.
While I know this may appear to you as something that shouldn’t be that big of deal, my last name is so very important to me today. I’ve worked hard to accept my biological name over the years, as I used to be so ashamed of it due to all the craziness that stemmed from my childhood. Having once gone by only my initials “A.D.” for almost two full decades, it was quite freeing to finally find enough healing and acceptance to start going by my full name again. Today, I am quite proud of my name and often refer to myself by my full biological name as “Andrew Arthur Dawson”, especially when I do public speaking or whenever I finish any of these blog articles. That’s why it hurts so much each time we receive holiday cards year after year after year from the same people who already know my last name but never take the time to place it on their envelopes. It honestly makes me feel like I don’t matter. But that indeed is the deeper issue.
Having been in my partner’s life for as long as I have now, most of his family have never really taken to me no matter how hard I’ve tried to connect with them. I came to acceptance of this a number of years back, but it still hurts nonetheless receiving cards from many of them where some have even put my first name in parentheses, “Christopher Falbo (& Andrew)”, almost as if it was an afterthought.
This distinctly triggers painful memories from my childhood where I never felt like I mattered to anyone and instead felt invisible everywhere I went, even in my own family home. Living here in Toledo has brought much of that pain to the surface for me to face and is presently what I’m working on now more times than not with my therapist, Linda Smith (who’s an excellent therapist for difficulties like this by the way!)
Thankfully, I do know deep down I do matter and that it ultimately doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things when my last name is forgotten or excluded by another on things like a holiday greeting card. But, having spent so much of my life defining myself by what others do to or think of me, I see now that there’s still plenty of work ahead of me to do in accepting others, even when they don’t remember for whatever their reasons, that my last name is Dawson.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson