I saw Girls Trip the other night, and it spoke to me in so many ways.
I laughed and I cried, but most of all, I was able to put things into perspective within my own life. It's funny how you can watch scenes in a film and connect them to your own experiences.
**spoiler alert: **
In the beginning of the film, we are introduced to Ryan (played by Regina Hall), a strong Black woman who appears to have it all—a great marriage, professional success, and the power to make all her dreams come true. But, as the movie goes on, we began to see that all isn't what it seems. As I watched Ryan's “put together" life begin to unravel in the public eye, it made me reflect on how I did many of the same things to keep up appearances in my own marriage.
Here are some of my takeaways from the film.
Being #RelationshipGoals Is Unreasonable
In the film, Ryan is a successful author and motivator who is married to Stewart (Mike Colter), a retired pro-football player. Together they've built an amazing brand through which they've developed a huge social following. Like Ryan and Stewart, my marriage also grew in front of an audience. In the beginning, I was just sharing my life and my genuine love I had for my husband. I had no agenda. But as my audience grew, they wanted to know more about my relationship, and I didn't mind sharing.
My husband and I gained a following on social media by allowing viewers access to our lives, as we grew from being dead broke to building a successful brand with thousands that loved us. Within a flash, we went from being only known by friends and family, to people seeing us in stores and crying with admiration for our bond and connection.
Letting the world into the most intimate areas of our lives proved to be a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing because of all the support we received for our various projects and ventures, but it was a curse because there is no such thing as the “perfect couple," and keeping up the appearance of perfection began to put a strain on our marriage.
Building a Brand on a Relationship Can Lead to Trouble
Growing a business gave me the feeling of creating something that had become bigger than me. The reach of my business expanded further than my personal network, and as people began to take stake within my company, the lines between my personal and public life began to blur. Those who made an investment in my business believed they should have access to what should have remained private. It was as if we had become obligated to share our marriage with the world, in order for our brand to continue to be successful.
They expected me to consistently share what was happening in my love life. They insisted on me teaching them how we spoke to each other, how we made love to each other, how we worked with each other, and how often we fought.
Like Ryan and Stewart, I created programs and products as a way to be compensated for the sharing of such personal details. Ryan's slogan was, “I can have it all", and mine, “I can manifest anything!" I grew a brand that spread pictures of our smiling faces and happiness all over the screens of thousands of envious admirers around the world.
While business opportunities came rolling in, our passion for each other began to dwindle. But I pressed myself to stay, because the thought of my relationship ending, and my streams of income being taken away terrified me. It motivated me to make the relationship work. I was very optimistic.
Let the Mask Come Off
After some years, the honeymoon phase wore off and resentment was ever-present. We failed to heal from our emotional wounds properly, and so they lingered in our tone of voice and the way we communicated to each other. The cute and playful couple we once were had been replaced by two individuals, sharing a space consumed by negative energy.
I feared the world finding out that we were falling apart meant we'd lose everything we had gained. I related so much to the scene when Ryan kept convincing herself that she was doing the right thing by signing the business deal she and Stewart had been presented with. I know that she believed all she had to do was keep the mask on, sign the deal, and then she'd be able to figure things out later without losing all she'd worked so hard for. I know this, because I got caught up in the same cycle of thinking we could accomplish our goals first, and figure the rest out later. It took me 11 years to realize that there was always a dangling carrot that kept presenting itself, and it was usually money motivated.
[Tweet "I was caught in the cycle of accomplishing goals first and us later."]
Signing that deal, and continuing to partner with Stewart for the sake of their marriage wouldn't have solved anything, and Ryan would have continued to be in a relationship that didn't honor her for her highest and best self. The pep talk that Stewart gave her about behaving, so they wouldn't ruin how the public viewed them was so familiar.
Often times, my husband and I would use our followers' opinion of us breaking up as a reason to work through our issues. Because after all, what would people say if they knew we weren't as perfect as they convinced themselves we were? People would surely lose hope in real Black love if they heard we called it quits. That's like Will and Jada breaking up, or Jay and Bey!
I don't know if that was a good thing or a bad thing that we were motivated by public opinion, but it was definitely a factor in the decisions we made.
Always Stand in Your Truth
Ryan isolating herself from her girls as a way to not be called on her pretending was a place I found myself too.
Together, we had become a lone island and were no longer individuals. When we began to experience problems in our marriage, we had no one to talk to for advice, or people to really share our struggles with, because everyone idolized us. We were #relationshipgoals, we didn't experience problems!
But eventually, all the pretending ran its course, and we were at the point where we couldn't pretend anymore. Our problems began to spill over outside of our home and people began to know that we were in trouble. I stopped talking about it and deleted 1000 pictures from my social media. I found a way to tell my story without telling our story anymore.
Until now, I haven't been ready to talk about it, but today I am standing in my truth, just like Ryan stood on the stage at Essence Fest, to admit to you my relationship was not perfect and it crushed me. I didn't know how to say that and I didn't know how to ask for help. I believed since I was the relationship expert, I should have known how to fix my marriage.
After watching the film, I couldn't help but think how much it spoke to me. I loved when Ryan reached her point of no return while reading the script, as her girls held her accountable to speak hers. My moment came when I realized that my relationship not working out wasn't a failure; I had won so many times within our union, and while it didn't have the ending I had envisioned, I gained so much from the experience. Allowing our relationship to transition was not losing, it was surrendering to the reality of what was needed.
Part of having it all and manifesting anything is the uncomfortable parts that force us into glowing up to the next level. To me, Ryan did have it all. She experienced a relationship that showed her about herself and partnership, and with that wisdom, she was able to attract a new relationship into her life that reflects her present desires. I was happy to see that Ryan was able to move on and eventually find love again. The joy and peace she conveyed represented a woman who was not afraid to stand by her standards, despite a relationship.
She had standards before she married her husband, and because of the level of commitment she made to him she was willing to pardon him from breaking those standards, because she really wanted him to be the one. Eventually, she had to detach from his potential, and allow herself to move past that fear of never finding someone who would meet her standards. She stood in her power and attracted to her what she desired.
I'm sure many of you can relate to Ryan as well. There's a lot of pressure put on couples to be cute, perfect, and together forever. We often don't know if we are capable of that, but we accept it anyway, and soon we find ourselves afraid to show what's real because we've committed to being flawless. It's challenging, but our experiences are our best teachers. They show us that relationships do not define us as individuals, and it's important to keep people around us that love us and will remind us of who we were as an individual, so we don't get lost in losing ourselves, trying to become the perfect couple.
Tiffany Janay is a sought-after Women's Empowerment Guide, Social Influencer and Motivational Speaker. Through her hard work, she has transitioned from homelessness to pioneering the yoni egg movement through her brand, Organic Blood Yoni Eggs. In her spare time, Tiffany enjoys travelling, creating gluten free potions, and running with unicorns. Keep up with Tiffany and her unicorn friends on Facebook and Instagram, or at her website: www.tiffanyjanay.com.