In Tyler Perry‘s movie titled, “Why Did I Get Married?” (October 2007), the marriages of four couples are explored. The journey of each couple is centered around how they manage beginnings and endings in their marriages and friendships.
One week after this movie was released, I was asked to be a guest on Yalanda Lattimore’s online radio talk show titled Dryer Buzz. We had a great time. Thanks Yalanda for having me on as a guest.
After the interview, in one of the chat rooms the subject came up about letting go of toxic relationships. The conversations were centered around transitioning from one toxic relationship to another without recognizing, processing, and learning from what led to the transition from one relationship to the other. Below are several considerations I have about moving in and out of toxic relationships.
First, it is very easy to move on by jumping from one relationship to another – for some people. But remember, it can also be very dysfunctional as you sometimes take with you, all of the STUFF from one relationship to another. This includes the hurts, bad experiences, the brewing, the shortcomings that were pointed out about you while you were in that old relationships, and the internal conversation about your level of self worth and esteem. ALL of this goes with you from one relationship to another – unless you process it.
One must put “closure” on one relationship before moving on to new one. It is important; especially as you get older. When you are younger, you are more resilient and can bounce back a little easier. But as you get older the resilience ceases. So when you develop a habit of relationship hopping at a young age, it can create challenges for you as you get older.
Second, as I talk about in my book, it is important to identify and acknowledge the “beginnings” and “endings” of the various phases of your life. What constitutes a phase? Anytime you transition from one major experience to a new one. For example, ending one relationship and beginning a new one. It is important that you create some kind of “healthy and positive” significant event or situation that will depict the ending of the old relationship. It could be as simple as going out with friends and toasting to the end of the old relationship. I often tell my clients who have just divorced to go out and celebrate the “new you.” Yes, the new you. Once you divorce, the vision, in your mind’s eye, of you being married must be changed to match the reality of you being “not married.” If you don’t change that vision, then it can create challenges for you and inhibit your ability to let go and move on.
In Tyler Perry‘s movie, there is a point in which Jill Scott’s character ended her marriage, not when the divorce was final, not when she married her new man, BUT when she ran into her ex at the banquet and told him he was not significant in her life anymore. THAT scene represented her ending. And the Brother she married represented her beginning. The two may often occur simultaneously, but at SOME point, in order to move on, you have to create that ending in order to effectively “let go.”
In the United States we have learned to run, or relationship hop, to keep from dealing with the challenges that a relationship offers. I know from personal experience. Some of us use that as a vehicle to avoid dealing with the hurt and pain of either ending a relationship, or better managing its impact on us. Relationship hopping is short lived however and only serves to mask the real emotions simmering underneath. It is also very self centered and can be dysfunctional because you end up taking that STUFF into the next relationship.
Finally, when you do meet that special person, you will have accumulated all of this unprocessed, unreleased, and often misunderstood STUFF that could contribute to the demise of that special new relationship over time. That happens more than you know.
SO watch the movie and look for ways in which endings and beginnings are depicted. Apply those lessons to your life and don’t be afraid to look at the person in the mirror and ADMIT that you have stuff that you want to let go of – then go to work on YOU. Be honest with you, because you deserve it.
Darren L. Johnson, the Letting Go Pro