THIS IS MY WHY. August 8, 2016 When I was 22 I was in a relationship with someone who told me my hands looked like “slave hands”. It was said as a “joke” but he didn’t mean this as a term of endearment…and I certainly didn’t receive it as one. It was many years later before I was able to call it what it really was–a comment meant to be funny at the expense of my self esteem. Keep in mind this was someone I’d known for a very long time. Someone who said he loved me. Someone I shared a bed & my body with. Someone who wanted to be my husband. Can you imagine what it’s like to be in relationship with someone who helps you dislike parts of your body that you didn’t even know were up for critique?? I pray to God you never have to find out. It was easy to walk away pointing the finger at all of his faults but many years later it hit me–he was never my real issue. It was me all along. My issue was that I wasn’t appalled enough to leave at the first signs of bad behavior. That I didn’t throw him the deuces when he casually mentioned that an ex-girlfriend (whom we both had restraining orders against) was prettier than me. And that I didn’t bounce when he squeezed his hands around my neck in a fit of rage one summer afternoon. Did he have his own issues? Absolutely. But they were his to uncover & heal–his and his alone. But what makes still makes me cry for that young woman is that she didn’t KNOW BETTER. That no one specifically taught her about the depth of her worth but instead, like most young women, assumed she knew because she fit a few superficial social markers: she came from an educated family with “good jobs”. She went to GATE schools and took AP classes. She was exposed to different cultures and experienced the luxury of traveling to new horizons. But those things didn’t automatically translate into knowledge of self because, as I can now confirm with all certainty, job titles, social classifications & educational degrees don’t mean shit when it comes to recognizing your own worth. So she made up her own rules as she went along. She thought holding onto her virginity, getting a Spelman degree & having the courage to speak her mind made her someone special…someone of value. She didn’t understand that we don’t BECOME special–that there is nothing we can do to BE special because every single one of us is special by sheer virtue of being alive. The only thing “specialness” requires is breath in your body. It would take her many, many years to understand that…and to learn to let go of the things she’d been holding onto that were never hers to carry in the first place. When I talk about Personal Empowerment, it comes a deeply personal place. It’s not just a rallying cry for me–it’s how I’ve made sense of my life experiences and it’s the gift that’s enabled me to take painful stories & transform them into teachable lessons…both for myself and for others. It’s helped me heal and tell a different story about so many situations I’ve experienced. But do not be fooled—the Dayka you see now is someone I’ve had to intentionally GROW INTO over the years. I was the girl who never really felt like she fit in with the other kids. I was the girl who was never “chosen” by the popular guys. I wasn’t having sex, didn’t cut class (mama did NOT play that) and didn’t drink or smoke weed. I was just there, in plain sight, desperately wanting to be seen. So I spent the early part of my life trying to be different than who I naturally was because I didn’t feel like I was good enough with my brown skin, “weird” name, “broken” family, assertive personality and borderline “acceptable” address (being one of only a few black girls in my classes throughout elementary, middle & high school didn’t help, either). And because I didn’t feel like I fit in, I tried to find ways to make myself smaller than I was because…well, that’s just what we do when we think there’s something wrong with who we are–we try to find ways to blend in & disappear. Why? Because I didn’t know my own worth. I thought my success lie in trying to shave down my edges & round off my corners instead of uncovering new ways to accentuate those unique features. Eventually–and luckily–I found my way though. And here’s why I’m sharing all of this with you: The early part of my life had to be exactly what it was so that it could prepare me to become who I am today (and who I’m yet growing into). Yes, I’m a designer but I’m also a woman who’s incredibly passionate about personal responsibility and self empowerment, especially as it pertains to women. Why? Because we are often taught–and even encouraged–to shrink. Don’t be too confident. Don’t talk too much. Don’t curse. Pull your skirt down. Be nice. Keep the kids well dressed. Make a fresh meal every night. Look like you did at 17. Polish your nails. Be agreeable. Don’t intimidate a man. Don’t talk too much about your accomplishments. Put some earrings on. Keep the house clean. Take pride in “keeping your man”. Be sweet. Don’t ask for too much. Be a freak in bed. Make sure your pedicure is on point. Keep a Brazilian. Be humble. Wait your turn. Don’t sleep with too many men. Get along with the group. Don’t be so assertive. Be grateful you have a man. Look pretty. Don’t be a know-it-all. And be quiet. OMG, it’s straight up exhausting! And when we grow up being bombarded with these messages, it dulls our ability to trust in ourselves & our natural instincts. And let me tell you, a lack of trust never, ever turns out well. In any situation. We learn to shrink at home, we learn it in school, we learn it from our fathers, brothers & boyfriends, we learn it from our mothers, colleagues at work & women in our social circles. But it’s time to start unlearning some of that stuff if you truly intend on embodying your highest vision of yourself. And here’s the catch: only you can do this unlearning for yourself. It is not your parent’s job, your best friend’s job or your spouse’s responsibility to make you feel good about who you really are. That is purely an inside job, my little sugar muffin. Making someone responsible for your wholeness is too much power to give any one person (or group of people) over your life. And once I really understood this–realizing that I didn’t have to wait for other people to change because I could change MYSELF, a whole new world opened up to me. There may have been certain things I feel like I didn’t learn in childhood but those very things have become my platform NOW (Looka Gawd!). To remember that at ALL times, it is not only my right but my responsibility to EMPOWER MYSELF. To make choices that are soul affirming. To stand in my power at all times and not hand it over to someone else. To fill in my own gaps and not expect someone else to do it for me. And to remember that the only things I really need are the things that come from within. So back to him. If I had truly known my worth from the beginning, we wouldn’t have been together in the first place. And that’s the real truth–it’s the responsibility that I OWN about my involvement in that relationship. And once I had the courage to be honest with myself & acknowledge that I simply PUT UP with too much for too long because I didn’t know better, something just shifted. I was able to release him from the story I’d been telling (his fault! his fault! his fault!) and start to do the work that really mattered–my own. Is it easier–and more socially acceptable–to blame him for the negative parts of our experience? Of course–because society tends to love a “he done me wrong” narrative. But taking responsibility does not look like me regurgitating all of the ways I thought he fell short or pointing out all of the ways I thought he should have shown up better. Instead, it means asking one simple question: What was it about you that made you decide that kind of behavior was okay in the first place?? And answering that question, my friends, is where the real work starts. There was a time many years ago when I didn’t know better but now I do. And I want you to know better, too. This is my Why. Share this: Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window) Related 18 Comments on THIS IS MY WHY. Darcel August 8, 2016 at 9:16 am (3 years ago) All I can say is wow. I’m going to have my daughter read this. She’s a tween, but I think there are points in this post that will help her as she grows into a young woman. Not to mention there are things that as a grown woman I needed to hear and learn as well. Thank you. Reply DaykaRobinson August 8, 2016 at 10:22 am (3 years ago) Darcel: Thank you for your feedback & thanks for considering passing it along to your daughter. It seems like there’s so much that goes unsaid regarding young women & relationships and all too often we hear (and give!) very little direction outside of “don’t bring home no baby”. The truth is, it’s MUCH easier to build a child up than to have to fix “broken” adults. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. xo, d Reply Lyssa August 9, 2016 at 8:52 am (3 years ago) Today’s my birthday and you really just blessed me with this! I was also 22 yrs old in a bad relationship- ended up getting two teeth knocked out – but I can think back in my life and say the same thing “what was lacking in me at that time to be in that relationship”. Thanks for sharing. Reply DaykaRobinson August 9, 2016 at 2:14 pm (3 years ago) Lyssa: Happy birthday!!! I am so sorry that happened to you, girl. And yes, I was thinking, “Write about the girl who, on some level, thought that behavior was okay. Tell HER story.” Thanks for reading and being transparent (and courageous!) enough to share your personal experience here. Thank God for deliverance, right?? (ps.. you have some BEAUTIFUL teeth. I saw them on Instagram!!) 😉 Xo, d. Reply Marcia August 9, 2016 at 9:49 am (3 years ago) I had a pretty bad break-up a couple of years ago and have been holding on to the story with dear life ever since. Of course he moved on with the one of the several women he allowed in his space while we were living together, and I believed they are now engaged. That recent news set off the whirl wind of emotions all over again. A couple of weeks a go I was working with black obsidian and almost as soon as I touched it, a sharp pain hit my solar plexus area and would not let up. After sitting in it and doing a little digging, I learned that my block was in my ego. Ahhh…the ego. Tricky little bastard. My heart, in all of its glory and resilience, healed a while ago, but my ego refused to let it go. I was avoiding that question! I did not want to ask WHAT WAS IT ABOUT ME THAT ALLOWED ME TO BELIEVE THAT HIS BEHAVIOR WAS OK IN THE FIRST PLACE?? Our relationship, while exciting and sexy, was mostly wrong from the very beginning. I saw all of the signs necessary to warn me about what type of ride it was going to be. I ignored them at every turn, because he was my prize. Haaaaa! HE was my prize!?? I was so broken, so lost, so far from my magic… I was willing to settle for just about anything so long he was tall, dark and beautiful. He was never meant to be my forever love, he was meant to expose me…to break me wide open. He was meant to force me to sit in moments like this and HEAL. All of the lies, all of the childhood wounds stemming from sexual abuse, all of the insecurities…they were all presenting themselves to be healed and fear and ego were standing in the way. Thank you immensely for this post! My angels brought that out of you just for me ;). I’m going to spend time this week with that question and make tons of room for the rest of my healing! Reply DaykaRobinson August 9, 2016 at 2:11 pm (3 years ago) Marcia: Thank you for sharing that! This says it all right here: “He was never meant to be my forever love, he was meant to expose me…to break me wide open. He was meant to force me to sit in moments like this and HEAL.” I just wrote in another comment below that when we don’t answer that question, we really rob OURSELVES of the opportunity to become who we are supposed to be. I understand the ego thing because at one time I wanted to marry this guy to prove to his family (and his ex!) that I was special because I WAS the one he chose. OMG, it makes me cringe just thinking about that! Our soul lessons belong to us and no matter who we partner with or what continent we live on, we will have to learn those things. The funny this is, when you do the best thing for you, you’re actually doing the best thing for everyone involved. And because you left him (or it ended), he is now freed up to continue what he needs to learn and what SHE needs to learn. Blessing to them both along the path! And of course to you, my Black lawyer magic woman. 😉 Xo, d Reply BessieAkuba August 9, 2016 at 9:54 am (3 years ago) Reading this made me realize that, as introspective and awate as I think I am; there is always and opportunity to go deeper. I can now look back at MANY situations I’ve been in in the past and as myself that question, “what was it about me..?” And now that I ask myself it really puts a lot into perspective. Reply DaykaRobinson August 9, 2016 at 2:04 pm (3 years ago) Bessie: I think that we EACH have our lessons to learn, but they are our own. And when we start focusing too much on what the other person “did to us”, we rob ourselves of the chance to grow, expand, and level up. People may find it hard to believe but I KNOW this guy loved me–he just loved me the way he had been taught and the best way he knew how. Now that doesn’t make it acceptable–but it does put things in context. I NEVER would’ve become this person had I stayed with him, so I see him as someone who was there to teach me about my own value. It just took awhile for me to download the message. Xo, d Reply Rhonda E. Peterson August 9, 2016 at 10:05 am (3 years ago) Dayka, Dayka, Dayka…I always knew (you are a force, all your own, to contend with)! Gillian will not yet understand your words, but when she’s ready, I’ll hand her this article. Proud to know you. Reply DaykaRobinson August 9, 2016 at 2:00 pm (3 years ago) Rhonda: Thank you, friend!! Hopefully she won’t need to know any of this when the time comes. 😉 Xo, d. Reply Sandra August 12, 2016 at 12:09 pm (3 years ago) Pure, nake reality!! I’ve always said the real truth will set you free, and it certainly did that for you!! So happy your soul is free!! Now live your life. So many young ladies/girls need to hear this reality!! Reply DaykaRobinson August 18, 2016 at 10:05 pm (3 years ago) Sandra: It is! I SO believe in telling the truth about the things we feel shame about….the process of speaking it–just that much alone–brings incredible healing. Xo, d Reply BILLIE LOW August 13, 2016 at 10:53 pm (3 years ago) DAYKA, WHAT A STORY…WHAT A LIFE..SO YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL AND YOU HAD TO GET HOOKED UP WITH THAT. YOU HAD THE COURAGE TO LEAVE IN YOUR OWN TIME…A TIME THAT WAS RIGHT FOR YOU…SOME DON’T EVER FIND THAT STRENGTH TO MOVE THROUGH IT AND OUT OF IT. ..IT TAKES SO MUCH TIME FOR SELF EVALUATION…SELF CONCERN AND SELF AWARENESS. TO KNOW YOU HAVE COME THROUGH AND LEARNED AND BECOME SELF ENLIGHTENED YOU ARE NOW A STRONG SELF RELIANT INDIVIDUAL WITH SO MUCH POWER!!! CONGRATULATIONS DEAR DAYKA… AND KEEP LEARNING AND GROWING THROUGH THE PROCESS CALLED LIFE. BILLIE Reply DaykaRobinson August 18, 2016 at 10:04 pm (3 years ago) Billie: We live & love & learn & grow over and over again in this life….and it’s really incredible. Thank you for your kind words! xo, d Reply Annie P August 22, 2016 at 9:27 pm (2 years ago) Bravo! Reply DaykaRobinson August 28, 2016 at 11:34 pm (2 years ago) Thanks, Annie! Reply Cynthia Lyons September 10, 2016 at 8:09 am (2 years ago) OMG, talk about self awareness, I am 56 years old and in reading your story it brought up memories from my childhood and adolescent/teen years that make me think of my behaviour toward other women, my relationship with my mother(who is now deceased) my sisters, my expertise husband, my daughters, of not having many women friendships, etc, etc. I am going to mediate on the things that I read here and get set free. Thank you for being brave enough to write about your experience. Do you do speaking engagements? You’re never to old to learn! Reply DaykaRobinson September 18, 2016 at 11:31 am (2 years ago) Cynthia: I love that you mentioned your behavior towards other women….that is something that I actually didn’t think about when writing this but there is ABSOLUTELY a tie between our level of self worth and how we treat other women. Or let me make that a little more personal and speak to myself–there is a relationship between how I have treated other women based on where my level of self worth was. Thank you so much for sharing your experience–I don’t do many speaking engagements but I’m certainly open to it! xo Reply Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment *Name* Email * Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.