As a little girl, I didn’t fall too much. I didn’t have scrapes and minor cuts, those things that caused me to sing “I am stuck on band-aid brand, cause band-aid’s stuck on me.” Although I loved to sing the commercial, I had little use of the product. I do remember when the “ouchless” band-aid was revealed to the world. You know the kind, the adhesive doesn’t stick to the hair on your skin, so removal is easier, and the band-aid doesn’t have to be ripped off. Well, I have wounds, but the band-aid isn’t needed for the skin. It’s needed for the heart. The brand name I chose was “Neshephah” (Nay-shay-fah).
I had a friend, Nate, who studied the Hebrew language. He told me the name “Dawn” translated in Hebrew is “Nesheph”, meaning “dawning of the day”, or “morning twilight”. “Nesheph” is a masculine name, adding “ah” at the end makes it feminine. Hence, “Neshephah”. Nate would call me by this name, and I would use his Hebrew name.
At the time, I was dating a bass player who looked amazingly like the actor Tommy Ford, or “Tommy Strong” on the TV show, “Martin”. This working bass player was too broke to have a free email account, so I allowed him to have one of my AOL email accounts. Well, he proceeded to date other women by hooking up through my AOL account. He was also over 35, had no car, and still lived at home with his mother. This was the kind of man I attracted over and over again. I continued to give of myself, to compromise myself, to allow myself to be taken advantage of over and over again. How many times can the same thing happen before one questions their part in it?
One evening I sat at my computer and wrote something, I don’t remember what. I signed it “Neshephah”. I thought that would be a cool pseudonym for my writings. Then, I thought that it would be a cool name for me. In May of 2001, at the same time of breaking it off with the bass player, Neshephah was born. The first thing I did was tell my children to no longer introduce me as their mother, “Dawn”, but their mother “Neshephah”. I did the same for my friends and church family. I would start a job as “Dawn”, but be introduced as “Neshephah” on the first day. It worked out well, there were those who asked if using “Dawn” was okay; and there were those who had a hard time remembering my new name. I was particularly tickled when the older members of my church would use my new name. It made me love them, just that much more. The only person who made fun of my name was my mother. I was “Nefertiti”, “Aphrodite”, “Nefertility” and the like. One summer my aunt visited from Atlanta. All three of her children had changed their names and she referred to them by the new name. I asked her if it was hard to do that, because I had a hard time with my own mother. She looked shocked and said, “Absolutely not! It’s a matter of respect!” My turn to be shocked. Why did I have to demand respect? Why did I find it so hard to demand respect?
Now “Neshephah” needed a personality. She could not be like “Dawn”. She would not be a victim of abandonment, molestation, spousal abuse, or low self-esteem. She would stand at her full 5’7″, which has diminished to 5’6″. She would wear her hair differently. She would dress differently. She would speak of herself differently. She would think of herself differently. This would all take some work, but I set about it. It absolutely helped that my daughter was and is an A-1 hairstylist, so that was first thing I tried. I went into natural hairstyles, and my friends would comment: “That looks like a ‘Neshephah’!” I sought brighter colors in clothing, and stopped wearing colored contacts. I opted for interesting shapes in sun glasses. All the things outwardly that I wouldn’t allow myself to do before, I did. Inwardly, I took the time to tell myself how beautiful I actually am. I didn’t say it in passing. I would stand in the mirror and say something like, “wow, you are beautiful.” I would mean it from the inside to the outside. This helped me to stop looking for validation from others. Most of the time, it didn’t come anyway, and half of the time, it wasn’t sincere. I took a big leap of faith, and quit my job. I stopped driving an hour and half to work and 2 to 3 hours home from work. I increased my annual pay over $10,000 in less than 6 months.
I started dating someone that I really cared about, but this time, I let him show me first. Steve Harvey hadn’t written his book telling women that a man should “profess, provide and protect”, but I knew these were important factors for me. I had never required them as “Dawn”, but as “Neshephah” it was a requirement. This guy didn’t have much, but it felt like he gave me everything he had. Then it was over, no muss, no fuss. He decided to move back to Chicago. I knew then that he didn’t give me everything. So I shut it down. Clink-Clink!
That was February of 2004. I told God that I didn’t want it anymore, no more dates, no more heartache, heartbreak, nothing. If he wasn’t my husband, don’t let him come near me. I wanted to focus on being a grandmother; I wanted to live single without worry of whom I date or if I married; I wanted more of God. God should have always been my first priority, but He wasn’t.
During the past ten years, I have learned so much about God and myself. I can’t say how many times I’ve been laid off, yet never evicted. Had no money, but never hungry. Couldn’t walk, but never fell down. Endured horrible pain and agony, but never lost my smile. According to my doctor, I should not be able to walk on my treadmill, but I run on it (when I use it). I am left with chronic nerve damage in my leg, but I don’t limp. I have greater knowledge of God’s Word and know first-hand how He loves me. I have a testimony that I can’t keep to myself. I awake daily with a song of praise rolling around in my head.
So here we are, and it’s May again. Thirteen years have passed. My pastor delivered a message in his “Wounded Healers” series, it was entitled “Replacing My Labels”. I thought what perfect timing, because God has been dealing with me about “Neshephah”. I was starting to feel uncomfortable being called that name. I told one of my friends that I felt like Dawn and Neshephah were becoming one. When pastor called for those to come to the altar, those who were ready to drop the labels that they were carrying, I was one of the first to go. As I stood there praying, I doubled over and a knot formed in my stomach, I tried to stand but was hit with a powerful knot in my back which caused me to bend, again. I came out of my prayer concerned that I couldn’t move. Then I heard it, “Neshephah, no more.” See, sometimes God has to immobilize us so we can clearly hear Him. I began to cry because I truly felt emptied. No more guilt of what I had done, or hadn’t done based on someone else’s opinion or label of me. Not a victim of anything, but a victor over everything!
I have been feeling Dawn getting stronger. This band-aid “Neshephah” , is starting to irritate me, because the wound is healing. It’s not even a wound anymore, just a little sore. It needs some air, it needs some sun, it’s ready to become a part of the body and not an isolated spot that needs nursing. It’s time to rip off the band-aid.