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Closure From A Cheating Ex Was The Catalyst To Healing I Needed

Here are the hard truths about healing.

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I'll never forget the moment I found out my ex cheated. Knowing another woman lingered in our home while I was committed to our relationship was the most violated I have ever felt. All I could think about was "her". How her lips touched our wine glasses. Her body slept in the bed we shared. Her moans echoed in the home where we once said, "I love you." I could almost smell her perfume. It was the perfect formula to make any woman see red. My anger took over our once happy home.

You can imagine my dismay when my ex reached out years later. Turns out, HE needed closure. Yeah, you read that correctly. Every part of me wanted to "boy-bye!" his ass up out of my phone, but I didn't. I had so many unanswered questions that lingered in my mind for years. I knew it was time to put my pain to rest. I texted him back and we had one of the hardest conversations of my life.

Healing is not always sunshine and rainbows. It's also not as colorful as the wellness pages on social media. We all process pain differently, therefore we all heal differently.

Sometimes the process of healing looks like emotional breakdowns in your car or regular dates with your therapist. Overall, healing is difficult for everyone and we will all face hardships along the way. Here are some hard truths I've run into during my healing process.

It Happened, Period.

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I found the moment I accepted things for what they were, the easier it was to move forward. He cheated, it happened, and there was no changing it. I could yell all I wanted, but the fact is the deed was already done. I had to accept that there was a woman who was important enough to sacrifice our relationship for, period. Me staying angry forever or justifying his actions to give him a second chance won't change the past. This is no shade to those who have gone back after cheating. I'm just speaking from my own experience.

Whatever hurt you, happened. I know this may sound a little forward to most people, but we keep it real at xoNecole. In my experience, it was easy to get wrapped up in the whole, "Is this happening to me? Nah, this can't be happening to me."

I learned denying that it happened or justifying the action to make it less painful, doesn't mean it just goes away. Denial or justifying is just an excuse to suppress your emotions or not face the reality of the situation. This can only lead to prolonging your healing process.

To start our healing journey, we must accept what happened and that we are hurt. We live in a society where we are encouraged to "look at the positive" or ask yourself, "what did we learn from this?" three days after it happened. You are allowed to admit a situation sucks and feel those emotions for what they are. It is OK to validate our pain if it means moving forward.

Sometimes You Have To Call Yourself Out On Your Toxic Traits

If you think you don't have any toxic traits, you're lying. Yes, sis, you have a toxic trait and so do I. We all have a toxic trait or two. Although my relationship ended due to cheating, that doesn't mean I was exactly perfect either. I had a few toxic traits that didn't help my relationship thrive. I had the classic "daddy issues" which made me extremely codependent. I also suffered from a strong case of "hood mentality" due to my upbringing. I didn't know how to talk about my problems. I just knew how to fight about them. This was a huge issue in our relationship.

It's hard to admit that we have toxic traits because no one likes to feel "wrong". Confessing our toxic traits also means "showcasing" our weaknesses. Letting others in on our weaknesses is an extremely vulnerable place to be in. Admitting we have a toxic trait may take time, but it can make us aware of it. Becoming more self-aware with our whole being will only make us better in the toughest of situations. We will be able to detect our toxic traits when they arise and have more self-control.

You Owe It To Yourself To Heal 

Unfortunately, it's not the job of the person who "hurt us" to heal us. In fact, I have a confession to make. There was a period in time where I felt my cheating ex should've made up for what he did. Crazy, right? As if a Michael Kors bag (don't judge, they were popping back then!) was the answer to all of our underlying issues. What I was subconsciously doing was placing MY healing in HIS hands.

My healing is my responsibility, just like it is yours. You owe it to yourself to heal. If you rely on those who hurt you to heal you, you might be hurting for a while. Taking charge of our healing is taking back our power.

Closure & Forgiveness Are For You. Read That Again.

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When I agreed to meet up with my ex after some time, it was because I needed closure too. As selfish as it may sound, I decided to embrace closure and forgiveness for me, not for him. I spent years being angry and labeling all men as "ain't shit" because of what another man did. All I accomplished by choosing to "stay mad" was block other relationships that could have been great for me. I was tired of being a "bitter woman". I was ready to forgive and release all of the pain I found comfort in.

Closure and forgiveness don't always require a meet up at Starbucks. It can consist of your journaling or organically coming to terms with how things ended. If you do choose the Starbucks route though, make sure to prep before going. Write down a list of key points you would like to mention and do your best to be in a good headspace. Remember, holding on to situations that no longer serve us is holding us back from our higher purpose.

Toxic Relationships Shouldn’t Be Turned Into Friendships

This may be an unpopular opinion, but trust me sis, I'm trying to save you. If your situation was toxic, give him back to Jesus, and move forward with grace. Turning any toxic relationship into a friendship is still holding onto the toxicity; it means we're not ready to let go. The point is to let toxicity go so we can thrive into who we're meant to be.

My ex and I tried to have a friendship after we broke up and it got messy. The issues we had in our relationship began to roll into our friendship. Arguments about people we were dating, mixed signals, and old wounds from the past began to come up again.

The friendship felt more stressful than the actual relationship itself. I realized If I wanted to move forward with my life, I had to let him go completely. I gracefully gave him back to Jesus.

Letting go of my ex and the grudge I had against him has helped me find peace. I truly feel happier, free, and more aligned with myself than I ever have before. I've learned to fall in love with the woman I am today and embrace all of me. I love my independence, peace of mind, and the beauty marks I have gained along the way. I wish my ex well and I truly hope he has also healed from this experience.

I hope these hard truths are a benefit to your healing journey. These truths have helped me find acceptance in many ways. The hurt you are going through now is molding you into a strong phenomenal human for the future. I promise it does get better. If you need someone to talk to during this time, please reach out to me on Instagram. Happy healing.

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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