Names are very important things. I know this because I spent twenty years in advertising building and growing brands. Our names are a crucial part of our identity.
When I got married to the wonderful Mr SM, at the age of thirty-two, I changed my name to his. It was important to me that we became a 'unit', and that any future children would share the same name as us.
We couldn't just add our names together since Mr SM's name was already double-barrelled as a result of some inheritance malarkey several generations back.
Now, Mr SM's name is old and deeply posh as well as being stupidly long. The history of his family, going back more than five hundred years, is listed in minute detail in Debrett's peerage and Burke's Landed Gentry.
But it's not my name. It's not the name that I spent thirty-two years becoming. Even after fifteen years of marriage I still feel like a fake when I use it.
For many years I ran the two names simultaneously. I used Mrs SM socially, and Ms P (my maiden name) at work.
It made me feel slightly schizophrenic (and caused havoc at airports when I'd often turn up with a ticket in one name and passport in another), but my life at that time was schizophrenic: high powered global businesswoman by day, harassed mother covered in baby vomit by night.
Then I quit work to become a full-time Mum and my birth name just... disappeared. I became subsumed by the name that belonged to my husband and my children and, at the same time, felt that the girl I was before the age of thirty-two was drifting away from me.
This, of course, coincided with me drinking more and more, until one day I looked at myself and thought who the hell are you, anyway?
Since I quit the booze, twenty months ago, I've gradually felt more and more connected with the person I used to be. I feel like I've come home.
Then, last week, an envelope dropped into my post box. It was addressed to Ms P. It was the contracts from my agent (I love being able to say my agent, in the same way that, when I first got married, I loved saying my husband).
Just seeing my original name on an official document made me all tearful.
She's back, baby. She's back.
Love SM x