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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

My Name Is Shawn Michel de Montaigne

Shawn Michael Helbert is a name I have felt estranged from since my mother died in October of 1984. My first and middle names ... they were no problem. It was the last name that made me flinch every time I had to sign it, every time I had to pronounce it, every time someone from my past, who knew me as Shawn Michael Helbert, used that surname, every time some smart-ass, hearing that my pen name was Montaigne, asked, "That's your alias. What's your real name?"

(A question asked by my birth mother, who, most gratefully, is no longer in my life.)

The Helbert family are as nasty a bunch as you'll find anywhere. Those who are still alive reside in Northern Colorado, where they continue to unlive their lives to the greatest degree possible. The patriarch of the family died a year ago this month; he was, on a long list of awful people who have rampaged through my existence, firmly entrenched in the number one spot. He was there since I was an infant, and I strongly suspect he will remain there no matter how long I live.

Today, September 17, at 2 PM Pacific Standard Time, the Curry County Court approved my name change. I am no longer Shawn Michael Helbert. I am

Shawn Michel de Montaigne

It is no longer an "alias" or a nickname. It's my legal name.

Today I am forever free of the stain of being a Helbert. I have loosed the last soul-killing tentacle from my being. The work begins now to let the big institutions know: Social Security, the IRS, the DMV: those bureaucratic-type folks who love nothing more than to stand in a person's way.

Today I am also going to begin a new project, tentatively titled: Cutting Off Contact. It will be my story of how not one, but two families--my adopted family and my birth family--came to reject me as their son, and did everything they could to destroy me and my livelihood. It will be about my name change (I've called myself Shawn Michel de Montaigne since 1998), and my decision to cut off all contact, along with any advice I can lend to those thinking of doing the same thing with their families.

It isn't easy. It isn't fun. And the decision, once made, will, for better or worse, change your life.

But I figure if I can help others thinking of doing the same thing, if I can lend some encouragement or maybe some strong warnings about the reefs and rocks ahead, then I think I would be remiss if I didn't try. As much as I can't stand most people, I am not a misanthrope.

The Helberts definitely are.

The Funas and Mills and their lot definitely are.

I'm not.

To those of you who looked sideways at me the past twenty-one-plus years when I told you of my new name, please go fuck yourself. Lethally. Thanks.

To those of you who refused to understand or listen to me as I stupidly tried to explain why I wanted to be named differently, the same, please.

To those of you who refused to call me by my chosen name even after I asked you to, the same squared, please. With sandpaper.

My name is Shawn Michel de Montaigne.

I am a free man.

I won the war.

My flag is planted.

It's time now to enjoy the spoils of a very hard-earned victory.