Amazing Grace

Hermosa Beach, CA

“Names have power.” – Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief 


Finally free.

Feeling free.

Free to be me.

I am Catherine Grace O’Connell.


A name I call myself.

Not my birth name,

A name that I have chosen,

My new name, LEGALLY!

My divorce was finally over in 2009.

I believed I was free.

I had a lot to learn about freedom.

I headed West.

Like Thelma without Louise

Me and a dog named Boo.

Me and a dog named Tuli.Ok, her name was Tuli.

Ready to change my life.

Ready to be free.

To live free.

I left almost everything behind.

Except that f*#king last name.

Why in the world would I take that Albatross with me?

The thing about freedom is, it isn’t a piece of paper, a divorce decree, that gives you freedom. Freedom is a gift you give yourself.

You see, I left an abusive marriage, a marriage that left me broken into a million pieces – a marriage that would destroy my sense of Self – a marriage where I slowly constructed an inner prison … one without Grace.

Abuse has a way of seeping into every fiber of your being, holding your thoughts hostage, as it turns you into the abuser, your abuser, over time.

Moving west, thousands of miles away, leaving my life and everything that went with it behind, I thought my life would magically change. It would change but it would take time – a very long time – as I had a lot to learn and a lot to “unlearn”, to understand, about freedom – true freedom – about how life works and how to change a life from the inside out.

Over a 20 year marriage, what I learned was how to hate myself. That was a lesson that lived inside of me. It was time for a new lesson. It was time to learn how to love myself.

Abuse has a way of taking over our subconscious, filling our minds with negative thoughts – thoughts that aren’t ours – thoughts that belong to the abuser – thoughts that keep us tied to the abuser.

It would take time – lots of time, therapy, gut wrenching inner work – to understand the power I had given away, the power I needed to take back – power that wasn’t outside of me – power that was inside of me.

It would take tears, a lot of tears, a lot of grief and a lot of grace to move forward and to leave my past and those chains behind.

Every negative thought, every negative emotion, every angry word spoken about my marriage, my past, was a chain, a link, that would keep me bound in an inner prison of my own making.

Freedom would come by taking back my power, by becoming awake and aware, by focusing forward – not backward, by consciously dismantling the inner prison I helped to construct.

Freedom is a feeling.

Freedom is a choice.

Freedom isn’t out there.

Freedom is in here.

It takes Moxie to be free and to live free.

Moxie is the key to freedom.

Moxie is believing in yourself,

believing that you are a force of character.

Moxie is learning to love the f*#k out of yourself!

Moxie is letting go of the past.

Moxie is taking back every ounce of power from

someone who never deserved it.

Last Friday, I walked out of the California Superior Courthouse with a new name, Catherine Grace O’Connell – leaving behind Catherine Anne McCormick and the last tie to my past and a marriage that nearly destroyed me.

I left the courthouse, feeling free, finally free, free to be me – not from a piece of paper with a new name, but from an inner world without a prison, an inner world that belongs to me.

One that’s full of Grace.

Need More Moxie?! See all my Moxie On Monday’s!

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Awww. This makes me so happy!! You are free Catherine Grace!!


Yes I am sister. Yes, we are!!!


Thank you, Catherine. I was able to get back to your post. I was also in an abusive marriage when I was 20 years old, but now I’m happy to say, I’ve been married to my current husband, the love of my life, for 36 years. I’m glad you were able to move on as well, have healed, and gone on to inspire many women with your courage. Cheers, Christina Daggett


That’s wonderful to hear sister! I’m so glad it worked this time. What I realized is that the abuse was insidious. It was hard to recognize as it got so much worse over time. There was a lot of gas lighting – everything was my fault – it was so confusing. I’m so happy to hear you’ve found a wonderful man!


I kept that last name, as it felt like a link to my children, who were a part of him. But lately I think about taking MY name back, because it’s who I am, who I was born to be. The combination of two wonderful people, my parents. I’m not a part of my ex, so why should my name, what I call myself, be tied to my ex? My children are who THEY are, and I need to be who I am. At 64, is it too late to decide to be ME again?


That is why I kept the link as well. Yet, it’s always bothered me. I have a hard time even saying it out loud. What I realized was I had to change me and my relationship with myself before I was ready for a name change. It wouldn’t have made any difference awhile ago. Now, it feels amazing! It’s NEVER too late to be you! The only time we have is NOW!!!
Go for it!


It was so great to meet you last night Catherine. Your story is inspirational and your laughter addictive. Cheers


Jodie and I – our cackles – we are so much alike. It was wonderful to meet you too. See you next time!


Congratulations! I feel you, girl. I was SO happy to my name back after shucking off the chains of my own miserable marriage. I didn’t realize how much of myself I had given away in 17 years of compromises- death by a thousand cuts. A good dog (I had 2) beats a bad husband every time! Enjoy your well-deserved freedom and LIFE!


How wonderful to hear! And, I understand the dog part. It’s amazing to experience that unconditional love. Thank you for the love and support!


So happy for you to finally shed that last link. What a great message of strength and grace.


How kind sister! I’m so grateful for you!


Wow. Catherine Grace, what a joy it is to read this! Thank you.


Time to catch up my friend! You are such a love. Grateful to have you in my life. Let’s chat soon!


That’s so great. I know a lot of your story, and I’ve always been inspired by you. This brought tears to my eyes, as it makes me think of the place I still feel trapped, and that is inside of an eating disorder. I’ve figured out so much of my life, and am confident that I will manifest the things I still want. But there’s that one area that I struggle with, and am still working on getting outside of it… in the meantime, we’re all in this together, so let’s all celebrate each others’ wins, and count them as our own. Congratulations sweetheart! Am very happy that you’ve moved through this very drawn-out hurdle.


You know I struggled with that long ago. It’s all the same thing. Self abuse takes many forms. If we can abuse ourselves, we also have the power to love ourselves and heal the abuse. We have so much power within. You’ve got this sister. I already see that you, right now! She’s right there!


Thank you for this post. You’ve just written my story and I’m sure that of many other women. My last name is the last tie and I’ve been considering changing lately. Thanks for the inspiration.


It’s too bad that it is a bit of the every woman story. It’s part of life and hopefully, the more we talk about it, the more we can change it. Thank you so much!


You say everything that so many of us feel! You wouldn’t think that letters could be so powerful…but they are!


I do love the power of linguistics!

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