I am a 90s baby, so I grew up on Toni Braxton, Monica and of course my Aunty Mary J Blige. I was singing about heartbreak and infidelity before I knew what it meant to really go through it. I could recite lyrics and belch every high note with raw emotion as if the heartbreak was my own. In my mind I was no stranger to it, I had read countless books about cheating couples (shout out to Brenda Hampton & Omar Tyree). I watched Tv shows and films over the years. I even knew all the words of the iconic heartbreak film Waiting to Exhale. It was all fun and games when it was make-belief but nothing could prepare me for the pain I felt when heartbreak became my reality.
Now I know that I dropped a bomb on you in my last blog post Intuition: A blessing in disguise. I was really touched by your response and I now feel braver than ever telling my story. Before I crack open my post break up travel series I need to take you a bit further behind the scenes. From the break up until my trip to Berlin, a lot had taken place in my life. I turned 25. I developed an elaborate and impulsive spending habit and I experienced everything from hair loss to depression. Dealing with a break up on top of trying to navigate my way through life was crippling and I couldn’t manage it. The break up was the straw that broke the Camels back and sadly for me it knocked me right off my feet. There was so much to process. My family were in my ears, my friends were in my ears. Everyone including me was trying to make sense of the madness.
I was embarrassed, ashamed and I felt dirty. To make matters even worse, the word had started to spread and the people were talking. An old acquaintance of mine was so desperate for an exclusive, she texted my phone with fake concern in hopes to catch the tea. But this wasn’t tea or breaking news via the #shaderoom this was my real life. All eyes were now on me. Every move that I made was being scrutinised, so I wasn’t going to give the spectators, my ex or cousinbae the satisfaction of seeing me crumble. Even though I was half dead behind the scenes, lol. The show had to go on, so I kept up the appearances and made sure my Instagram uploads stayed popping.
The more I acted as though life was grand like a thousand pounds to the outside world, things were taking a turn for the worse. It got so bad that my mum sat me down and gave me some home truths. Mummy was blunt and told me that I am not the first girl in the world to get cheated on and I won’t be the last. I need to walk with my head held high. One day it will all make sense why I had to go through this. I can’t stop or give up, I just have to keep going. My mum tried the nice approach at first but in true Aunty Lorna form, she likes to leave an impact with her words. Mum made sure to remind me that I came from a long line of strong Black Women, who have been through ‘this’ before, so I have to pick myself up. Mum then went on to say and I quote “if you feel like you are going to mash up yourself over this Jancro boy & his dutty family, you have another thing coming”. In translation, this was a warning to get my shit together.
You see, I heard what my mum said, but her words were not hitting home. Nothing anyone was saying to me at the time was. I felt like a victim and found comfort revelling in the pain of the breakup. I truly lost my strength and was I embarrassed to tell my mum that I was struggling to push through. My confidence was bruised. Ever since I was a child, It has been drilled into me that I have to grow up to be a strong Black woman. Life was going to throw some horrible things my way and no matter what happens, I have to keep it moving. Even if it hurts. Even if it’s painful. Even if I don’t understand it. I was raised and trained to be resilient. If I fall, I must get up and if I cry it shouldn’t be for too long, but I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t look or feel like the strong Black woman my mum raised me to be and this had a major impact on my confidence. I was unable to demonstrate all that my mum had taught me because I was crumbling.
Over the years I have been able to live up to this reputation as a ‘strong Black woman’. I have served as the friend, who many have called on. At one point in time, I even held a PHD in solving man problems for my girls, lol. Sadly, the tables had turned and the strong Jenna that everybody once knew, was now unrecognisable. The stress completely took over, I started isolating myself from others, my hair started to fall out and I wasn’t able to sleep at night. I remember feeling like someone cast an evil spell on me because everything that was happening to me just seemed unreal. I was declining, but I couldn’t do anything about it. The break up was an eye-opener and it made me realise that my ex-wasn’t who he portrayed himself to be. I thought that I knew him, but I didn’t. It made me feel as though everything that we had shared together was a lie. This was the worse part for me because, in my heart, I truly felt like we had shared something real.
My ex- was the first guy I ever exchanged I love you with. The first guy who knew all of my hopes and dreams. From the age of 17, he watched me blossom into the early stages of womanhood. How could I just forget him? How was I supposed to erase the last 7 years of my life? I felt like I didn’t have anything to show for the relationship. I wasted my years and my time being his lover and the damn secretary too. I couldnt bear the thought of letting go of the relationship and to make matters worse, I was still attached to him(please don’t cuss me). It was so overwhelming for me to the point where I couldn’t even think straight. There was too much noise going in my head and I just needed to tune everything out. The break up was already taking its toll on my mental health and I knew it. As a first-class psychology graduate, who at that time wanted to get into Clinical Psychology Doctoral training. I knew the signs and tried my best to disguise it from my family and friends.
It wasn’t only until an incident took place at work, that would soon reveal the true impact of the break-up. I collapsed at work and was unresponsive on my office floor for 5 minutes. As I regained consciousness, I noticed my wig was halfway across the office floor. My colleagues were standing around in complete and utter shock. When I realised my wig was gone, I just screamed out in embarrassment, lol. I know they probably thought I was having a panic attack but unfortunately it was the shame of my wig abandoning my head at such a crucial time. Everyone believed I had suffered a silent heart attack until the tests came back normal. My iron levels were fine and no I didn’t have a stroke. Numerous tests were carried out on me but nothing could explain why I collapsed. The only thing the doctors could conclude was that stress had a major part to play. I spent two nights in the hospital and was advised to take it easy because next time I might not be so lucky.
It was obvious from that incident I needed to get a grip on things but I just didn’t have the strength to get myself together. So I did what I do best and blocked out the problems by slipping away into isolation. I didn’t want to hear what my family or friends had to say anymore. I didn’t want to think about my ex anymore. I just wanted to soothe my wounds. I needed to make myself feel better and I was desperate to fill the pain with something other than the voices of my family and friends. So I kept spending money and boy did it feel good.
My aim was to get away from London and even further away from everyone’s voices. I was so desperate for a change of scenery. So when my girl Lola hit me up about Drakes Boy meets world tour in Berlin, I was all over it. Something about this concert just made sense to me. If you read JWV’s Top 10 things to do in Miami, you would know that we missed out on seeing him the previous year. I strongly sensed this was a rare moment of fate presenting itself and I needed to pay close attention. Without any additional thought, I booked those Drake tickets and Lola & I made plans to set off to Berlin. Little did I know, that this trip was going to be the starting point for my restoration & healing.
Click here for part 1 of my #PostBreakUp Travel series
Lots of Love