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Lessons From the End of a Marriage

A “How to Thrive” Guide After Divorce

Mother’s Maiden Name

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I knew his mother’s maiden name.

His parent’s middle names. His social security number. I could list his schools and their associated mascots. I knew the name and breed of every dog his family every owned. I’d sifted through all of his baby pictures, watching the chubby toddler grow into the awkward, skinny boy who finally transformed into the teenager I loved. I knew the family recipes and the family secrets.

But I keep coming back to his mother’s maiden name.

I used to find security in that knowledge, as though it was some talisman against future tragedy. I thought I knew everything about him. That I was so deep within the fold that secrets couldn’t exist between us.

It was an illusion, of course. You never completely know another person; you only know what they choose to show you.

It’s funny sometimes how life works out. The day after the text that ended it all, his mother’s maiden name gained me access into our joint accounts after he changed the password.

The talisman against tragedy became the key to unlocking the scope of the tragedy.

And in the end, that’s really all his mother’s maiden name was good for.


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