Hurt people hurt people. That was the big takeaway from Monday’s episode of “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta.” While the reality show served up its normal economy-sized helping of tomfoolery (i.e., K. Michelle randomly straddling her date, Karlie’s 22-inch eyelashes in bed), it also examined Stevie J and his infidelities. As any intelligent viewer of the show (some might say that’s an oxymoron) might have suspected, the three-time Grammy Award-winning producer hasn’t just been hiding from his baby mama and side chick, he (along with so many other black men in unhealthy relationships) has been hiding from himself.

During a couple’s therapy session, Stevie J admitted to being a liar and — after some probing by psychologist Jeff Gardere, Ph.D. — shared that his mother left him when he was just 8 months old. That sure explains a lot. Maybe not why he makes all of those ridiculous faces, but likely why he’s been unfaithful to women and why he plays so many games. The moment (of clarity) seemed sincere as Stevie J, clearly uncomfortable, almost squirming in his seat, confessed that it would’ve been nice to have known his mom, but he “can’t think about it.” And it is this not “thinking about it” that has led to so many dysfunctional relationships in our community.

Let’s be honest: We all have issues.  You’re not going to be in a relationship — romantic or otherwise — with anyone who doesn’t have them.  It’s just part of the human experience. But at some point, we all have to face our demons — go to those hurtful places so that we can heal, be whole, and foster healthy relationships.  I was super proud of Steebie (sorry, I couldn’t resist) for being honest and vulnerable in front of the camera.  That took a lot of courage. While it doesn’t earn him a “get out of jail free” card for irresponsible and hurtful behavior, it does explain the type of jail he was locked in.  I really don’t think most men who are in emotional turmoil know — on a conscious level — how much they hurt the women they love. How can they?  You can’t give love (real love, at least) when you’re in such pain (anyone see DMX on “Couple’s Therapy”? Exactly.) You dish out pain because that’s what’s inside of you, what feels comfortable and familiar. It’s sometimes so ingrained in the subconscious that only therapy will reveal the unhealed wound.

It’s unfortunate that so many black men have a stigma about therapy. They seem more comfortable talking to their barbers, bartenders, mammas, and us — their women. I’ve dated a few black men who have abandonment issues or suffered traumatic events. It’s a lot to deal with and the insecurities pop up in almost every aspect of the relationship. Black women are often left to fix everything, and, quite honestly, it’s not fair, especially when we have our own bag of issues to tackle. That’s what keeps many of us (including Mimi, who admitted to being abandoned by her mother as a teenager) are in dysfunctional, co-dependent relationships.  Gardere poignantly noted that men cheat because women allow it. I’ve heard so many men say, “I need a ride or die chick; a chick who’s loyal no matter what I do.” And I often reply, that ride or die chick you love so much likely has some serious self-worth issues, too. Low self-esteem, loneliness, and fear keep us in unhealthy relationships for far too long.

I’m a big fan of therapy. Our experiences — things we’ve learned and watched — all shape our behavior and thoughts. Like the rest of us, Mimi and Stevie need to heal and work on themselves separately. Couple’s therapy only focuses on the relationship, not the individual. One of my favorite books by don Miguel Ruiz, Mastery of Love, teaches us that a relationship should be about two whole people coming together.  Each person is responsible only for their half of the relationship. We must all learn to love ourselves first. Then, and only then, can we truly love others.

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  • NewLook

    “Let’s be honest: We all have issues. You’re not going to be in a relationship — romantic or otherwise — with anyone who doesn’t have them.” The only thing that bothers me about this quote is that she is trying to apply it to this couple. Stevie J is not a respectable human being. And Mimi should not be with him. Its like we are telling people that are in abusive (say what you want a man that cheats on you repeatedly is abusive) relationships that it happens to all of us. It doesnt! I am tired of my friends (or friend) dating horrible (cheating) men to just come to the conclusion that, “It happens to everyone, I still love him”. Umm… my boyfriend didnt hasnt gotten another woman pregnant and if he did he wouldnt be my boyfriend anymore. #Didn’t mean to offended anyone.

  • Blue Moon

    @NewLook…I realize no one is perfect, but, when I hear the phase, “We all have issues” that has become such a common excuse for many individuals to hold on to the past and continue the foolery, it sickens me. When we have recognized and addressed issues of the past we have to stop allowing the past to control our behavior. Sometimes I believe that we use our past as a defense mechanism or excuse for our negative behavior. I agree that Stevie J’s behavior has been wrong and disrespectful but if he can confess and forsake and Mimi is willing to forgive and move forward that makes for a great storyline and better life for the both of them. My point is if we yet have the same issue we had 2, 5, 10 years ago, we need to seek help because we shouldn’t allow issues to follow us a life time. Issues cause you to expose yourself to things, people and behavior that you would have otherwise avoided. Don’t get me wrong we all go through things in life, but that’s life, but going through and remain where you are is two different situations. Many of us are just existing but when we let go of our “issues” that’s when we began to live the life we were destine to live. Peace!

  • I totally agree with you. I learned from my pastor about taking time out to get to know and love yourself. Many of us go from relationship to relationship from our teens years to our adult years without ever getting to know our likes, wants, needs or desire, so we look for our spouse to know what we need and want when we ourselves don’t know.

  • Bump Mediocrity

    What I find most fascinating about the Stevie J dynamic is not only is dude not dealing with a full deck of cards but he is clearly an abuser and objectifier of woman. His contorted faces (and dead black eyes) come from a lack of core identity and poor self image. On the inside Stevie J’s an empty husk and is a textbook narcissist.

    A man who’s been abandoned, mistreated/abused/, or neglected by his mother will make all women pay for his mother’s sins. There isn’t a woman in a world who can fix that as evident in the trail of Mini-Me’s that Stevie J has created. This man is damaged goods.

    In the black community we love to ask whether he treats his mother right but I think its better to ask him: How did your mother treat YOU? His answer will speak volumes to you.

    Mother abandonment, abuse and its effects are shaming to the black community but it is way more common than you think. The addictions of drug and alcohol abuse have profound and devastating affects on parenting.

    I had the unfortunate experience of attracting a narcissist because of my own abandonment issues. He was VERY ATTRACTIVE, but full of glib superficial charm, an eternal victim of circumstance and essentially a womanizer. His mother was a reckless six pack drunk and essentially chose alcohol over him.

    The breakup was a painful ending because a narcissist can have a kung fu toxic grip on your heart if you are ripe for the plucking. They are really broken people and will take anyone down with them in their misery bus.

    That’s Mimi. She see’s herself as a victim (that was me!) and her low self-worth and esteem have kept her feet lodged in cement. She doesn’t believe she’s worth respecting because of her own childhood abandonment issues.

    Talk Therapy is really the only way to break this destructive cycle.

  • BreaktheCycle

    At what point do we stop making excuses for people’s behavior. I realize that some people have experiences in their past that manifest themselves in negative ways in the future, but I just don’t believe that is the case here. Stevie J has proven himself to be a liar, and for all we know, he could have been lying in therapy. Mimi needs to love herself, which means not finding every excuse under the sun to be with this man, packing her bags, and getting on with her life.