The day Matt told me he was done with our marriage, I took myself out of the house. I bought a dress from a thrift store and sat alone in a booth at a pizza restaurant, eating my favorite toppings and feeling numb about the uncertainty that lay ahead.
Sitting in my car, unsure what to do next, words by Mary Oliver that I’d read ages ago came to me: “I was a bride married to amazement… I was a bride married to amazement… I was a bride married to amazement…” Hungry for more, I googled the line to find the entire poem:
When Death Comes
by Mary Oliver
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
By the time I finished the poem, I was bawling in the car. I read it again and again, clinging to the words that were helping me siphon out my grief. And I knew, in that moment, that I wanted to change my name. But I didn’t know what that name might be.
I knew I never wanted to go back to my maiden name. I wanted to move forward, into something new. I didn’t want to sit around waiting for a Prince Charming to come save my life and give me a new name. I wanted to find my name. I wanted to choose a name that reflected the wonderment and curiosity I felt, even in that moment, even in the midst of my sadness.
I thought of naming myself Erin Oliver, in honor of Mary Oliver, but there is an artist already named Erin Oliver, so choosing that same name didn’t sit right with me. All year I pondered this question, until, one day, the name came to me as if it had been waiting for me all along.
My new name is Erin Darling.
I love this name because it embodies my happiness and hope. I believe that I am precious and worthy of love, and I want to leave a legacy of hope and tenderness in my wake. I do not believe these things because those close to me have been kind to me. In fact, this year I have had to deal with lots of negativity: being cussed out, being told I am wrong and broken and horrible, receiving messages that are aggressive and demeaning. I think that there will always be people in my life that don’t like me or don’t like my choices, but I know they are wrong.
I am darling. I have so much love to give, and that love starts with myself, my girls, and my work.
I believe that finding a way to be happy in the midst of overwhelming odds is the greatest form of rebellion. So many of you have shared that happiness with me, supporting me through my hardships and rejoicing with me in my moments of triumph.
You told me I was strong when I felt weak.
You told me my vulnerability inspired you.
I lost a lot this year, but I feel like I am finally accepting who I am.
I’m changing my name right now because I don’t want to wait to move on with my life.
And I would like to invite you to be a part of my transition.
I am selling out my old inventory of art prints, and many of the things I have listed in my shop right now will not be printed again. If you had your eye on something, now is your chance! And, as an incentive, you can use coupon code LASTCHANCE on your purchase of any art print now through October 10th for 10% off your purchase. Hurry, though, because once something is gone it’s gone!
I will put your purchases to good use as they will fund the creation of my new site! After October 10th, I shut down my site as I prepare to launch darlingillustrations.com.
My Patreon is already updated, and is now: patreon.com/darlingillustrations
My social media names are now as follows:
Thank you for letting me share all my rain-mixed rainbows and darkest moments that made me wonder when dawn would come.