One of the most confusing aspects of breakups is who we end up taking the longest to get over. Why, for instance, does it feel easier to bounce back from parting ways with a genuinely kind, wonderful partner you considered a best friend than an ex who had virtually no redeeming qualities? Why are the people who proved to be selfish, dishonest, manipulative–aka, so obviously bad in every way–sometimes the hardest to release?
I read a personal testimony from a member of @thebodyahomeforlove who wrote:
As a survivor, I constantly wish I could go back in time and change who I was when my assault happened.⠀
I wish I had seen the signs. I wish I had never entered that relationship. I wish I loved myself the way I do now. Maybe I would have been able to change what happened. Maybe I would have avoided the mental abuse. But, that version of myself is valuable.⠀
She didn't know what she knows now. And even if she did, it wasn't her fault.⠀
Because of what I accepted and tolerated in relationships back then, I will never accept that behavior now. Because of who I was during that period of my life, I am stronger.⠀
Do I have some healing to do? Of course. But I came out of that situation shocked by how much resilience I have.
I love myself. But I also love who I was when my assault happened.
As I read her testimony, I understood this sister. I appreciated that nothing was rejected about her experiences. Gracefully understanding that every former version of ourselves is valuable. Knowing that shedding toxic releases makes us more alike than we are different.
I remember my first night single, I returned home from work, took off my bra and tossed it over the hamper and lit a candle. All I knew was that I made it out and now I could comfortably sit in an empty home without pettiness.
Missing foresight, I was limited to the awareness of what life after a toxic lover would actually feel like. But I knew I had been here before, and what I would do first was change my look. Was a new identity even what I should be focusing on first? This was what I only knew to do, I was going through all types of hair styles to welcome the 'life after' me. What did she actually look like now?
Like most women, I even did the "cut a man out of my life haircut chop" when it was finally over over. But I had to see deeper. Collectively thinking with my girlfriends, could we write a new rule in the dating-relationship world. Could we? Something that was a solution to toxicity.
Here's the truth about life after a toxic lover:
You’ll need to know what to search up on YouTube to grow in femininity.
It took a minute for me to come across some channels that perfectly matched who I wanted to be but I'm glad they found me. So many "a-ha" moments happened right on my living room couch as YouTube taught me. Vetting. Something I did naturally but not strategically. Femininity. I was getting in my own way. Understanding a man. I had to learn quickly here. And YouTube University was teaching me all of it.
At first, you say it's not you because the toxic one was him. The toxic lover was obvious. But delusion says that much of it was you too. Think about it this way, the word sounds defensive, I know, but society taught you that. As defined, delusion is based on or having faulty judgment; mistaken. When we allow the wrong person in our lives, it's because "we missed the mark", not them. So, when we allow the wrong person to stay in our lives, we should be held accountable for their presence. Once they're gone, be sure to ask yourself why it is you're attracting toxic lovers. Having these hard conversations with ourselves should be a requirement.
You’ll convince yourself you're OK when you're not.
Isn't it easier this way? Eventually, someone will keep it real with you and after enough time, you'll see that your version of damage control is controlling you. Luckily, our culture has accepted therapy and even with a pandemic going on, virtual therapy has become a thing. I'd say, that if discussing your former toxic relationship with someone doesn't sting a little bit with the truth, seek a professional relationship expert or a good ass cultured therapist that'll challenge you.
You will have a period of time where you will date too soon because you miss companionship.
Just prepare. The natural tug of needing your own masculine energy to laugh and talk with all started in the "Garden of Eden". It's not going away. It's natural of a woman. I was awakened to this acknowledgment after questioning myself. Sasha, why can't you stop dating and just let many years go by? What was I thinking? That seemed more like a punishment than a privilege. As I sat with those thoughts, I was just simply tired of the disappointment and needed a break, and breaks to recharge are healthy. And I did just that after dating, loving, relationship-ing since 16.
Heartbreaks come with work and when it happens, it’s hard to identify the type of work you really need done.
Toxicity found you but it's not the end. It's hard for the mind to uninstall programs that block our truth, happiness and authenticity, and while healing from a toxic lover doesn't help, it will grow us if we let it. Finding the strength to go into negative memories to accept what just happened is a painful awakening, but one that is needed. As programs are projected on us as early as childhood, we have to uninstall them, files need to be deleted that are not yours. Files that could have been placed on you by your parents.
Your soul really needs to know that it's not yours and you don't have to carry pre-programming around of what others did to you.
The more we look in the mirror naked, we meet somewhere, some place that our mind must take us. Cheers to rebuilding a community. I love following bold women online who embrace stretch marks, gaps, fros, acne, sagging titties, pain, a body in any shape, therapy, mistakes, modesty, femininity and so on. The important stuff. Because the more she does, and I encourage that, the more indirectly she helps me tap into my own authentic reflections.
Life after a toxic lover ain't all bad, boring, or bougie. You go through the shit to get to the joy. And although it ain't always good, it's a period of time that you are finally allowing yourself to heal, hopefully. Because what got us to a toxic lover is the failure to be with ourselves too. And when we keep dating, going, moving through life — or ignoring this, we'll look back and before we know it, we have neglected the most important person to know entirely, ourselves.
Life after a toxic lover.
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Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith went to social media to share their Thanksgiving holiday with followers. The pair were surrounded by family and friends Thursday, and both posted how grateful they were to be with the ones they loved. Yet this comes on the heels of Pinkett Smith’s whirlwind of negative opinions and critics forecasting her book would be a flop.
Despite the negative feedback she received, Worthy, Pinkett Smith’s memoir, still debuted at #3 on the New York Times’ Best Seller list on October 25. The greatest backlash she received was centered around her relationship with Smith and the fact that the two had been living separate lives since 2016.
The commentary about their marriage overshadowed the reality that this book is ultimately about her journey to self-worth and the path she’s had to take in order to get there.
Social media comments about her book tour ranged from, “Me counting all the times Jada woke up and chose to embarrass Will Smith,” to podcasts like The Joe Budden Podcast saying, “Take me out the group chat,” which was a sentiment shared by many celebrities and fans alike. Yet, a point made by comedian KevOnStage proved that even though people say they don’t want to know about the Smiths, they’re secretly interested and want to know more.
Since the Smiths were wed in 1997, people have been fascinated with their marriage, and rumors about their marital arrangement have always been a topic of conversation. People continue to speculate that the pair is gay and swingers, and even new allegations have come out that Smith and Duane Martin shared an intimate relationship at one point.
However, despite their consistent united front throughout their marriage in recent years, Pinkett Smith has borne the brunt of backlash in the couple’s relationship, from her entanglement with August Alsina to Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards to the recent truths she’s shared about the couple’s marriage in her memoir.
Individuals are consistently running to the internet to support Smith and villainize Pinkett Smith, from podcast guests saying things such as “She doesn’t like Will, she likes the lifestyle” to deeming her “mean” or "manipulative" because of her facial expressions and demeanor.
Likewise, when you have hosts of daytime talk shows such as Ana Navarro saying, “I think she’s having a relationship with her bank account,” insinuating Pinkett Smith only shared stories about Smith to increase her book sales, it begs the question of where was this same energy when Smith released his memoir?
In Will, Smith discusses both of his marriages and how, in relationships, because of his upbringing, he needed constant validation and praise from his partners to feel secure. He also shared the reality that Pinkett Smith never wanted to be married, just as she never wanted the huge estate they share in California, but he wanted to give it to her despite her feelings about it.
Smith admitted to creating this family empire that only further boosted his ego and what he wanted his legacy to be instead of actually asking his family what they wanted or needed. People praised him for his vulnerability and said his book was an inspiration.
So how is it that one book about a person’s family, upbringing, and journey to self is praised, and another is villainized? The glaring thought that comes to me is, does likability often trump accountability?
People love Smith and his “good guy” persona; he’s always been an attractive, charismatic man that people can relate to, so even when he speaks about the way he mismanaged his marriage and family, it’s seen as growth. On the contrary, because Pinkett Smith doesn’t constantly fawn over him and shares how miserable she was in their marriage, she’s the villain.
People still blame her for not stopping Smith from smacking Rock at the Oscars and share their sentiments about how she embarrassed Smith with her entanglement with Alsina. Though this is a celebrity couple we’ve all followed for years, the question must be asked, how much accountability must Black women be subjected to in relationship to their partners' actions?
Why is it that the media is more interested in the marriage between Smith and Pinkett Smith than her childhood, or the fact her memoir consists of writing prompts, meditations, and methods for other women to find their sense of worth?
Could it be that the larger society doesn’t value Black women having the tools to find their own sense of worth? Or is it that Black women are expected to accept whatever is given to them regardless of how they feel or what they want?
The exclusive interview with Eboni K. Williams (@ebonikwilliams) and Dr. Iyanla Vanzant about if she would date a bus driver seems to have a lot of people talking. You can watch her response tonight on #theGrio. Catch the full interview, here: https://t.co/ctxE0zKFWj pic.twitter.com/BhIO52T2fg— theGrio.com (@theGrio) May 2, 2023
When Eboni K. Williams shared that she wasn’t interested in dating a bus driver, the internet blew up with individuals saying that Black women need to be less selective with their dating prospects. The commentary around this conversation shed much light on the reality that this demographic is expected and invited to settle in love if they actually want a life partner.
Black women aren’t often given the space to find their joy, fulfillment, or even self-worth because of the responsibility they’re forced to acquire in order to support their families and communities. Yet, “high value” Black men speak vehemently about Black women’s masculinity and inability to submit. We’re often inundated with podcast guests sharing that they’re not impressed by our success and are uninterested in our aspirations.
Black women, from a young age, are taught to place their community first and cater to the men around them regardless of what they do or how they behave.
We see this when young girls are told to put on pants when male relatives come around, we experience it when domestic violence survivors are encouraged not to press charges against their perpetrators, and we even see it when Black women face backlash for dating outside of their race.
The way Pinkett Smith has been treated since sharing the truth about her life and journey of discovering her self-worth is another example of how the world isn’t receptive to Black women being their most authentic selves.
It’s another example we can hold up to illustrate how Black women are expected to be magical but not human.
Even with this article, I’m sure there will be many who want to argue why Pinkett Smith was wrong in her narrative, but at the end of the day, it was her story to tell, and no one has more authority to share her lived experience than her.
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