Under a New Name: Danielle Lincoln Hanna

 

2015-07-13 Danielle Lincoln HannaI’d just assumed my books would always be published under the name I was born with, Danielle Hanna. Well, that’s why you should never make assumptions.

My surrogate father, Sam Lincoln, asked me a few days before Valentine’s Day 2015 if I would change my name to Lincoln to more formally acknowledge our relationship. He and his wife Jen essentially adopted me off the streets and were the first genuine family I’d ever known. But I told him I couldn’t give up my father’s name, Hanna. Aside from a photograph, it was the only thing I had that was his.

But I would be willing to add my new Daddy’s name to mine—Danielle Lincoln Hanna. He found this idea agreeable. However, I wasn’t ready to do it for Mama’s Valentine’s Day present, like he’d hoped. I had to overcome my fear first—the fear that something would be upended and I’d find myself used or abandoned again.

2015-07-13 Girl on PierYes, I was still afraid that this dream I was living was nothing but a dream, and I’d wake up one day and find myself in a nightmare. The very thought of commitment scared me. Shook me to my core. The way things currently stood, if I suddenly realized that I’d fallen out of the frying pan, into the fire, I could simply drop everything and run. Literally. I could pack my furkids into the car and disappear overnight, if it came to that.

But if I were to take his name, I could never run without taking a piece of him with me. I would be tethered to him.

Taking his name meant trusting that he would never turn on me. How could I make a judgment like that? I’d trusted my mother for over 20 years before I saw the truth of her emotional abuse. I’d only known Sam for fourteen months.

Daddy gradually understood that this was a massive hurdle for me, and I needed time to vanquish a few dragons. This beast was a particularly challenging one. By and large, dragons are conquered by proving them wrong. But how do you prove this one wrong?

2015-07-13 Dragon“One day,” the dragon whispered, “he will leave you. And what if it’s because he turned on you? Any little thing may tip the scales, and you’ll be forced to make the decision whether you must abandon him. Do you struggle with that? How about this: He could die tomorrow. He would be yet another failed father, and you’d be left fatherless again—but dragging his name about with you as a constant reminder that this father, too, abandoned you.”

How do you answer a dragon like that? The only way to prove it wrong—to kill it—would be to wait thirty years and see if my Daddy was still around. Then what? On his eightieth birthday, do I say, “Well, Daddy, you never used me and you never abandoned me. I guess I can take your name now.”

2015-07-13 BoyfriendWhat did this imply about my future relationships? Let’s say a special someone walked into my life, and we got serious. Let’s say I wanted to marry him. Would I hold back nevertheless, afraid to commit, fearing that he would either turn on me or abandon me someday?

The problem with this dragon is that he can’t be proved wrong, without waiting a lifetime.

But by putting life on hold, would that really be living? By holding the ones I love at arm’s length and threatening to run, is that really loving?

I finally decided that some dragons cannot be killed.

But they can be defied.

2015-07-13 FamilyThree months later, I finally told Daddy and Mama that I had decided to take their name. Mama cried and hugged me close. I cried, too, but for different reasons. I was scared stiff. But I’d said I was gonna do it. Now I had to.

I let another few weeks pass by after that—swallowing a new wave of fear, triggered by the reality hitting home. I am officially adopting these people as my family. We aren’t just pretending anymore. They aren’t “like” a dad and “like” a mom to me, and I’m not “like” a daughter to them.

They are my family. The thing I had once sworn to never let near me again. I’m making it real now.

Because a life without love isn’t living at all, and my greatest regrets will not be the things I did, but the things I did not do.

You’ll see a few changes taking place here at the blog as I switch everything over – book covers, etc. Hopefully the transition will go seamlessly. Wish me luck! And ignore any tortured screams that sound like me fighting with technology. I’m okay. Really.

DCIM100GOPRO

 

11 thoughts on “Under a New Name: Danielle Lincoln Hanna

    1. An Anghenfil – no kidding! Nasty brutes. But I’ve gotten to the point where I can sometimes roll my eyes and say, “Shut up, dragon,” and they hiss and slink away.

      Thanks, Whit. I’m glad you like the new name. 🙂

  1. Go you! I couldn’t be more pleased or more impressed. You can do anything, Danielle. You have courage in spadefuls, and I’m proud to be a small part of your cheer team from far away down under.

  2. Hi again Danielle,
    I know your step father and mother to be good people. When I met with all of you in Minnesota, I felt that you and they had a very good connection and a family relationship. You even went kayaking together while on vacation. I myself moved out when I was 19, because I wanted to be on my own, but I still kept in touch with my parents.
    We don’t always like what our parents tell us, their suggestions or concerns, but it is their job, because they are parents.
    How come you haven’t contacted your biological mother and step father of 25 years in over 1 year? I think that is a little strange.
    One day you will meet a handsome nice man that share your interests and become to be your boyfriend and I hope then, that your friend Sam will support you in your choices and not act jealous, because that would be weird. I wish you all the best!

    1. Hi, Susan,

      I know my mother and step-father mean well. Everything they ever did was for my benefit; they simply have a misguided idea of what was beneficial for me. When you saw us in Minnesota, you did see a close-knit family. That was the only face I was allowed to show. Behind the scenes, I had been contemplating suicide for three years.

      Canoeing, not kayaking. But I only bring that up because another blog post mentions I’d never kayaked before.

      There’s a difference between healthy parental guidance and manipulative control. My parents kept me largely in seclusion, controlled my ability to communicate with my brother and my extended family, and criticized me until I was ashamed to open my mouth in front of them. This is not a healthy parental relationship; this is emotional abuse.

      It’s been a little over 10 months since my last communication with my parents. Creating distance was not a decision I took lightly. I honestly did not want to inflict that pain on my mother. But my first priority had to be rebuilding myself as a healthy adult. I found I couldn’t do that while still being in contact with my parents.

      As for the topic of future boyfriends, perhaps one day, a special someone will cross my path. But I’ve decided not to date until I’m mentally and emotionally ready. I still have much rebuilding to do before I’m prepared for the most intimate relationship of my life.

      As for Sam, I’m afraid there’s little hope of my surrogate father whole-heartedly accepting any future boyfriend of mine. Sam is not the most social, and his fatherly protective instinct is strong. However, I’m becoming an independent enough woman that if I ever cross paths with the right young man, I will decide for myself whether to pursue a relationship with him, regardless of what Sam thinks. And more importantly, I know Sam won’t interfere in my relationship. I wish I could say my parents would have done the same, but I have observed their behavior towards my brothers’ girlfriends.

      I’m sorry to have to be so contrary in my response, but I made the decision some time ago to treat all inquiries about my relationship with my parents with open honesty. I wish you all the best as well, Susan, and thank you for stopping by.

  3. Everything in life is a risk. But to truly live we must take chances everyday, to grow and to move forward. Otherwise we are simply existing and that is no life at all.

    I believe you are stronger than you think! You are young with a lot of life ahead of you. There will be bumps for sure, but you will be fine.

  4. Hey Danielle,

    I stumbled across your website on Facebook and I just wanted to tell you that I am so very happy for you! I am impressed with all that you have done with your life and that you have grown into such a beautiful young woman! (I know that is strange coming from someone the same age as you but you know what I mean). I hope all continues to go well for you. Should you ever want to talk or get coffee in Bismarck let me know

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