What’s in a Name

Names are powerful. Whether it be the power to get you into an Ivy League institution. The power to get you into public office. Or even the kind of power that turns into a burden.

Names are meaningful. They hold pride and accomplishment and esteem. Or they can hold shame and heartache.

Names should be a badge of honor for the one bearing it. Names shouldn’t bring shame.

I always went through life being proud of my name. Proud of my heritage. I never once felt shame or burden. For 26 years that is.

Over the last year, a lot has changed. Where I once felt pride, I now feel traces of shame. Where I once had a badge of courage, I now had an incredible burden.

Being a child of divorce is never easy. You see it on TV. You see it in movies. You see it in the families of your friends. You sometimes think, “Well, it can’t be that tough. It’s easier once you’re older.” While that might be true to an extent, it’s not an absolute.

I never once felt that it was my fault or that I was the cause of it, which is a feeling common in younger children going through such a rough patch.

What I felt was shame. Not for the things that I’ve done, mind you. But for the things done by someone else. I know that I have nothing to do with the actions of others. But it came to a point that I wanted to have nothing to do with who performed those actions. I wanted to be free of the burden that came along with those actions.

I know that I’m my own person and what others do have no bearing on what I do. That doesn’t change the fact that I still felt associated to what happened. I still had ties to the situation.

All because of my name.

That’s why I have decided to shed the weight of the name that was holding me down.

Wyatt Lyles is no more.

From today on, I am Wyatt Donigan.

Taking my mother’s maiden name is not a decision I made easily. It was not one that I took in vain. Being such a big step with large implications, it’s not one I made without thought.

Behind my decision to leave law school, this was probably the biggest decision I’ve ever made.

At the end of the day, I had to do what was right for me. I didn’t want to look at my name and feel the shame. The heartache. The pain.

I wanted to look at my name and once again feel proud. To feel like it meant something. To feel like I meant something. I could no longer do that as a Lyles. In order to move on and start to heal, I had to be a Donigan.

If anyone from the Lyles family is reading this, I hope that you don’t misunderstand. I am not ashamed of any of you. I love all of you and always will. I simply had to do this for me. I could no longer live with the trials and tribulations that came along with the name.

I simply had to move on.

Even though there is plenty of red tape and hoops that I will now begin to cross and jump through, I already feel as though a weight has been lifted.

I can feel myself finally starting to pick up the pieces. There is still plenty of work to be done on myself and therapy to be had, I know.

But this felt like a good start.

With the new year, I feel as though this is a good time to start over new. After 27 years of answering to a name, there will assuredly be an adjustment period. I’m embracing it, though. I’m ready for it.

New year, new me.

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