Joi-Marie McKenzie is the Emmy-award winning Senior Entertainment Editor for ESSENCE magazine. Previously, she wrote for Good Morning America and ABC News. She is also the author of a critically-acclaimed memoir, The Engagement Game. We asked Joi-Marie about her post-breakup rituals and she opened up about how her spiritual life helped her mend.
If you think back to the first time you were heartbroken, what advice would you give to that younger version of yourself?
“It’ll happen again. And it’ll happen continually throughout life. So don’t necessarily worry about mourning the loss, but worry about learning how to cope with the loss because it’ll happen until the very day that you die — and then someone else is heartbroken. It’s a cycle.”
What has heartbreak taught you about yourself?
“It illuminated for me how I grieve. When I’m heartbroken, I tend to mask my feelings in shopping or drinking or staying out late or traveling a lot. So I’ve learned that that’s how I cope and I have to be cognizant of that and aware of that so that I don’t abuse that.”
What are your rituals during a breakup? What things/practices/people helped you mend?
“I use prayer as a tool. Often times I’ve broken up with a guy after I’ve tried to control an uncontrollable situation. And so I’ve used prayer to come to terms with life playing out in a way that I didn’t expect. I remember during my most recent break up that I write about in my debut memoir The Engagement Game, the prayer that got me through that tough period was, “God surprise me,” because it signaled to God that I had no dog left in the fight; that I wanted him to direct my path.”
Thinking back to breakups you’ve had, did you have any breakup vices (checking your ex’s Insta, etc) and how do you conquer them?
“I am the worst offender of rereading text messages — to remind me of the good times and the bad times too. I don’t know how to conquer it, but I just remind myself to be gentle to my spirit. I wasn’t going to be perfect during the breakup. I was going to scratch things that itched. And sometimes you have to let yourself do it and then (and make sure you do this last part!) stop doing it.”
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about love so far in your life?
“Love lives in the now. It really doesn’t last forever, and my last relationship that I wrote about in The Engagement Game taught me that. Here it was: I found a guy who I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with, and when it didn’t work out I considered that relationship a failure because it didn’t work out the way that I had envisioned. But when I think back to that relationship now, I see it is as a success. I was with a guy that I loved, and who loved me, for five years. And a lot of people don’t even get to experience that and so I’m grateful. And even if we did get married, we would’ve separated eventually…by death. I know that’s kind of morbid but it sort of motivates me. It confirms for me that truly nothing lasts forever and it motivates me to enjoy the moments of life. Enjoy the now.”
Do you think exes can be friends? Do you stay friends with your exes on social media?
What is your favorite song about heartbreak?
What is your favorite movie about heartbreak?
“Does Bridget Jones Diary count?”