When I started having visions about violently taking a sledgehammer and shattering all the windows and mirrors in my former boyfriend’s barbershop, I knew I was heading into dangerous territory. He was lucky that we were now separated by 2,000 miles, the Atlantic Ocean, and my ever-growing rage. Had he still been living in Brooklyn, I’m certain I would have been a real-life cast member on “Orange is the New Black.”
I wasn’t just angry—I was PISSED OFF. I took time, money, and energy out of my life to consider creating a future with him in his home country, and I was FURIOUS that he wouldn’t own up to the fact that he treated me like shit and that he wasn’t equipped to be a man, let alone a husband or a father.
I spent so many days in late spring vacillating between being grateful that I dodged a HUGE bullet to being outraged that he took my love and generosity for granted. The easy route out of my heartbreak would have been to label him as a Grade-A asshole and hold him solely responsible for the pain I was now feeling. But I knew the way out wouldn’t be declaring him as a worthless piece of swine who didn’t understand the true value of my pearls—the REAL WORK would be discovering why I willingly took off my pearls and put them in his trough in the first place.
Even with several years, hundreds of hours, and thousands of dollars I spent on personal development courses, conferences, and seminars, I still couldn’t shake this very adolescent belief that a God-fearing, ambitious, upstanding Black man would ever love me. It wasn’t that I didn’t have good role models around me. My father was a tremendous, amazing, and very present provider and my brothers were equal reflections of his character. My challenge was that I fell into the collective malaise of so many Black women in believing that my Black Prince Charming would never show up in a late-model BMW and drive me off into a suburban fantasy with stock options and a sense of security.
Since I didn’t BELIEVE my prince was coming—I settled. I settled for men who weren’t truly worthy of my time and energy. I settled for evenings of sex and Netflix and instead of nights on Broadway or Lincoln Center. I settled for last-minute text messages of “Whatchu doing?” instead of thoughtful phone calls to inquire about my life and what was most important to me. I settled for men who forgot my birthday, rarely bought me gifts, and never honored the sanctity that I placed on celebrating my life.
When I got how those beliefs were shaping my dating experiences, I was stopped cold. My current heartbreak had NOTHING to do with my former boyfriend but EVERYTHING to do with the caliber of love I believed I was WORTHY of receiving. If I believed that I DESERVED more, he would have never have shown up in my world. So since I didn’t understand my worth, God gave me a HUGE lesson on how I should NEVER be treated. EVER. AGAIN. (You’ll have to read my book to get the full story, but trust me—it will be worth the wait!)
When I began grappling with this lesson of WORTHINESS and VALUE, I took a few weeks off of social media to get silent and clear. There were many evenings when I took very long walks around Brooklyn just to re-center myself. I also had to allow my anger to come up and out. This was NOT easy for me as anger is a very tough emotion for me to process. But giving myself a few days to allow my heart to weep while bingeing out on “A Different World” reruns and take-out Indian food was often just what I needed to honor my healing process.
It’s been almost three months and I’m very proud of myself for all the work I’ve put in to get clear for ME. When dear friends have called to check on me, I tell them that I’m doing my work not to become a bitter, jaded Terry McMillan character. I’m taking very small baby steps back into the dating arena—but this time I’m leading with my values and not my limitations. I get to honor the woman who stands before me in the mirror each morning and only invite men into my world who are worthy of appreciating the Leah Lakins experience.
Trust me, there are still days when I want to hurt him as badly as he hurt me, but I know the REAL WORK is learning to love, honor, and appreciate Leah. I still have A LOT of work to do on believing that I can truly have the ultimate love I desire, but I’m grateful that this experience has shown me that I am WORTHY of so much more.