Karrueche Tran’s interview on Iyanla Fix My Life finally aired this weekend. I normally enjoy Iyanla Vanzant’s show as one of my guilty pleasures, but I was a little disappointed in some of the things she had to say and how the episode was put together.
Vanzant made a big assumption that Tran found herself in a toxic relationship because she had daddy issues. Having a good father doesn’t preclude a woman from entering and maintaining abusive relationships. By the same token, having an absent or abusive father doesn’t automatically preclude a woman from engaging in happy and healthy partnerships (even though research show that is often the case.) Our relationships are a manifestation of how we feel about ourselves at a certain point in time, as well as the strength we have within ourselves to refuse or walk away from bad treatment we don’t deserve. Our pasts define our future, but we’re not necessarily locked to them.
I must admit, the only reason I like Iyanla’s show is because I feel a sense of schadenfreude watching it. Seeing the trouble that other people get themselves in from their unwise and short-sighted decisions reminds me how stable my own life is. (I’m going to hell, I know.) But the interesting thing about Tran is that her experience isn’t that unusual or shameful at all. So many of us (including myself) have gone through similar situations where we opened up our lives—and our legs—for people that didn’t have our best interest at heart. We do these things because we as women naturally act on our feelings, and our feelings of love can be overpowering even when our common sense tells us to do otherwise.
My father and I are not on the best terms. This is something I’ve stopped trying to change to avoid disappointing myself. My father is not a bad man. He has been present my whole life and he still often makes sacrifices for me that he doesn’t have to make. Still, there is an irreparable rift there left from years of loving words that were left unsaid and abuse behind closed doors on dark, quiet nights. I trust this man to fix the leaks in my pipes or the screws in my curtains when I feel too ignorant to handle these things myself. But I don’t trust this man to uphold women with the love and respect I know we deserve because he was never taught how to do these things when he was still young enough to change and to mold, or to expressive himself in a healthy way when his emotions got the best of him. As an adult, I find that we only speak to each other when we feel obligated.
Ironically, however, I’ve spent plenty of time dating men who reminded me of him. They were detached, spontaneous (read: unreliable), mysterious, stubborn, unapologetic and feisty. I engaged with these men because despite my frustrations with them, they were the kind of people that I knew how to navigate. It’s easier to be attracted to someone if there’s something familiar about them. I engaged with these men because I was unafraid to give them the benefit of the doubt. The curiosity in me said that holding back would only stunt my growth as a woman and as a sexual being, rather than protect it.
My relationships with those men were in a whole other chapter of my life that was filled with naiveté and exploration. But at this moment, I’ve entered a new phase where I’m more guarded and aware of myself and my surroundings than ever. I’ve become more sheltered and at one point, I avoided dating for years to shield myself from more disappointment. Growing hesitant to open up to new friends and romantic interests has come from a string of hurtful experiences that once marred my ego more than I care to admit. But the beauty in that is I’ve completely changed the people I surround myself with for the better, and it’s improved my self-confidence. I’m not attracted to the same men that I used to—and I don’t entertain the same kind of BS anymore, either. It’s no surprise that the man I’m currently dating is completely unlike my father or any other man I’ve been with, or that this the happiest, most fulfilling relationship I’ve lead in my life.
When I watched Tran on my screen crying through her makeup and trying to make sense over why she stayed in such a senseless and damaging relationship, I saw a little bit of myself. I didn’t see a girl plagued by frustrations with her father. I saw a girl who didn’t give herself time to grow into her own and got swept up in the excitement and pressure of dating a celebrity. I saw a girl who had let go of her common sense and was eager to love someone because she was young, naive and maybe even a little invigorated (or paralyzed) by her new-found place in the spotlight. I saw someone who didn’t have friends and family like I did who could convince her to leave an emotionally abusive relationship when she was too stupid or blind to do it on her own.
For years, I’ve watched Karrueche get dragged through the mud for dealing with Chris Brown all over social media, but I don’t think she deserved one minute of it. This woman is just like the rest of us. She just had the misfortune of going through a long and messy break up in the public eye. What’s more, half these Twitter trolls that have thrown shade at her for her predicament shouldn’t because they have probably dealt with relationship issues that may be as messy as hers anyway.
If Tran’s life is anything like mine, those shady, romantic characters will come back into her life in the future and she may be tempted by others like them in moments of self-doubt or desperation. Maybe Tran does in fact have daddy issues? But chalking up her relationship problems to that part of her life undermines the potential and greatness she holds as a complex and ever-changing woman.