Saturday, March 10, 2012

Who Am I?

2012 so far has been an annoying series of extremes. Highs and lows. I'm ready for it to even out a little bit. I feel like the last two and half months have completely slipped by me.

Brenda and Michael at a Cal game with my parents.
One of the highs however was finally being able to spend some time with our dear friends Michael and Brenda Miller (no relation, though a good story for another time). Michael has been a long time family friend to my family and it feels as though his wonderful wife, Brenda, has been around just as long as he has. Michael watched my sister and I grow up and is my dad's best friend. He's been there to offer wisdom, advice and love to my sister and I, and throughout mine and Mr. Ford's relationship, he and Brenda were trusted mentors and friends. We have learned a lot from our honest and raw conversations with them and they are extremely valuable to us. Brenda was hugely key in pulling off our wedding as well. She served us lovingly and sacrificially as our coordinator extraordinaire! A lot of life happened for Mr. Ford and I in the six months after our wedding, and the Millers were also terribly busy so we had not really had any time to catch up with them since then, but we finally were able to make it happen. We had them into our home for dinner and thoroughly enjoyed learning from one another until late into the night. We completely lost track of time. It was great!

Michael said something to me that evening that really struck a chord and I have been turning it over in my mind and heart for the last week, trying to get a hold of it. I was explaining all that we had been dealing with over the last six months...illness, job transitions, death, and a whole host of other emotionally taxing things...and that I had been feeling like I had lost myself in the midst of it. That I didn't really know who I was in all of that, but that I was starting to feel like I was coming back to it. And Michael offered another layer to it, that was simultaneously liberating and exposing. It gave me some clarity about how to process the last six months. He reminded me that not only was all of that life happening but that I really was adding a new identity to my person. I'm no longer a single woman. I'm a wife now. I'm no longer "Miller". I'm "Ford" now. Sure, I will never lose my very, very engrained Miller-ness, but I am now Ashley Ford. And that's more than just a name change.

Michael reminded me that is a huge transition for a woman and does require time to adjust and find out who Ashley Ford is. Who is she as an individual? As a wife? As a daughter-in--law? As a sister-in-law? As an aunt? Brenda offered her experience and told me that she was worried that people would have no idea who Brenda Miller is and that it scared her for awhile.

I can totally relate. In the middle of all of the other emotional whirly-twirly in my life, I also am trying to find myself as Mrs. Ashley Ford. It's weird. When I'm with my parents, I still totally identify as Miller. My mom and I went antiquing the other day and when the lady asked if I wanted her to hold the pitcher I had found and what name to keep it under, I told her "Miller" before correcting myself. But when I'm with Mr. Ford and with his family, I have zero problem identifying as Ford. I love being a Ford. I like to think I fit as a Ford. It's just a very strange transition...with it's whole own set of emotions that I don't know that I was prepared for.

Our first family outing to Apple Hill last fall.
I like it though. My husband makes it all worth it. He continuously reminds me day after day why I wanted to take on his name and add being his wife to my identity. I am so proud of him and all that he does for our little family. His strength and constant and true love has buoyed me these last six months and I love him more now than I did the day I married him. :)

Can any other wives out there relate? I'd love to know Brenda and I aren't the only ones for whom this transition took a little time... :)

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