Mirtha Michelle believes everyone has a purpose and hers is to make you feel. The Dominican-born actress and poet made her debut as an author with Letters, To The Men I Have Loved, a collection of personal letters and poems that highlights the many different feelings that come with the pursuit of love. When it comes to her writing, Mirtha holds nothing back, and it is that frankness that makes her writing so cathartic and healing to its readers. You can follow her on Instagram @mirthamichelle.
HER MOST RECENT HEARTBREAK
“My life was revolving around his life and his dreams. I was still pursuing my dreams, but I wasn’t giving it 100%. I started investing a lot of my time in the business he wanted to start. I thought I was going to marry this man. He was the love of my life. We were living together, working together, everything. And suddenly life became very monotone, and I started feeling unhappy. I felt under appreciated. I felt I was doing so much and not receiving love in return. I remember there was an evening where I didn’t have much to say at dinner. Of course not! I’d spent every single day with this person. There wasn’t anything to share that he didn’t already live with me in that day. It grew boring. And then I had an epiphany that I was unhappy. So I told him about it and his reaction wasn’t the one I wanted. He felt at that time he had to focus on his business. I don’t think I’ll ever be broken the same way.”
HOW SHE MENDS
“When you know who you are, no one can really break you. You can have moments in which you feel weak - we all have those moments - but you pick yourself up because you know who are. You tell yourself, I’m going to rise from the situation. I’m going to heal. I’m going to get better. I’m going to seek help. I think that’s the most important thing when you’re heartbroken. Get to know yourself. We take so much time to get to know other people and we don’t take the time to learn about ourselves. When we meet someone, we ask them so many questions - what’s your favorite color? what’s your favorite this? what’s your favorite that? I started asking those questions of myself and I swear that it all changed after that. Take that time. Go on retreats. Have that time of solitude. That alone time is so necessary. Then, obviously, accept that it happened. Then, the most important thing overall: forgiveness. Sometimes you need to forgive yourself. Sometimes you need to forgive the other person. The only way to get to the next level is forgiving. Forgive them. It’s the hardest thing and it takes time like everything.”
HER FIRST HEARTBREAK
“The first really major heartbreak I experienced was when I was 21. I had just moved here [LA]. I knew I was playing with fire. His line of work, first of all, was a sign. There were lots of girls throwing themselves at him. But I still went for it because I always wanted experience. That was the thing about me. I never feared experience. I was the naive girl and he gave me eyes. I really saw how people can hurt others. I wrote about it in the letter Forgiveness (in LTTMIHL). So when this happened, I found myself alone for the very first time. I had no family there, really no friends. He was one of the three people I knew. It was the hardest thing. I came out here pursuing a dream. All I had was a car and I was crashing at my friend’s place. I cried a lot. I would cry in private. I would write. A lot of the poems from the book I wrote then.”
LEARNING TO BE VULNERABLE AGAIN
“After that heartbreak, I didn’t want to give myself up again. But then I realized, in love, you either do it 100% or you just don’t do it all. You gotta go all the way. If not, you’re never really gonna see what it could have been. I learned that and vowed that I would be different. I realized that with the next guy, I was not going to play games. We attract what we are. I was going to be the best I can be.”
MAKING YOUR OWN DECISIONS
“I also learned I wasn’t going to include other people’s opinions in my relationship. It was just going to be me and him. Friends will try to give their opinion when you ask for advice. But should you really do what your friends say? No. They’re not living your life. You have to live your own life. Follow your heart. Be vulnerable. You have to make your own decisions, whether they’re good or bad. Then you won’t have any regrets.”
TRUSTING YOUR GUT
“We see the signs. We just choose not to pay attention to them. I don’t care what anyone tells you. Every time you found out about a boyfriend doing something, there were signs. You just chose not to see them. Women have the most amazing intuition. It’s something that I think has been passed down. We have the capability of birthing life, and we also have a connection with human life that men don’t have. That gut feeling, you have to pay attention to it. Always. Your soul is 10 steps ahead. It sees things, feels things. It’s amazing. I say this thing, 'Listen to your soul, she always knows.'"
HER BREAKUP RITUALS
“For me, I know I prayed a lot to let go of that energy. And through that came forgiveness, of myself and that person. Cleanse your energy, whichever way you connect to the most. It’s so important. Also, start getting busy with hobbies. It helps you not think so much about heartbreak. You know, obviously I’m one of those people that likes to suffer and cry sometimes. And I know a lot of people who have read my book are like that. So, that first month, yes, cry it out. Cry it out. Release it. Cry every day. If you want to open a bottle of wine and listen to Stay by Rihanna all day long, you know what, do it. I did it! [laughs]"
HER BREAKUP VICES
“People think going out there and getting drunk and making out with random guys is going to help, but it isn’t going to make it better. Going out on meaningless dates, you’re just going to be at dinner thinking about that person. Rebounds don’t necessarily help you. I was doing those things and I would wake up and my heart was still bleeding for that person. Excess doesn’t help. Don’t do anything to the extreme. Don’t start posting pictures of new people on Instagram. You always know when someone breaks up by their Instagram. Don’t do that. Keep it private.”
WRITING AS THERAPY
“I hate it when people say, ‘Oh well I’m not crazy, I don’t need to see someone.’ I’m so glad that they started using the word ‘therapist.’ Before, it was a ‘psychologist’ and no one wanted to say they were going to see a psychologist. We all need therapy. We all need it. Some people don’t have to go talk to someone, but they can do other things that are therapeutic. My writing is therapy.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF POSITIVITY
“Be surrounded by positive people. What you put in your mind is going to dictate how your day is going to go. When you have a heartbreak, you’re in a weak state. You have to be strong to overcome. Read positive things that strengthen your faith in love, strengthen your desire to love. Find a new zest for life. Pursue things you love. I re-read a certain poem all the time and I got it tattooed so that it was a daily reminder for me. Still I Rise by Maya Angelou. I had read this poem when I was younger, but it took on a new meaning for me during this breakup because for some time my life was revolving around him. I had put my career aside. I didn’t even know how I was going to pay rent. I didn’t know what I was doing to do with my life. I had to tell myself, 'Hey, you’re going to get back to you.' I found a list of goals I had written when I was 25, and I told myself I was going to get back to it. So I turned something painful into greatness. I went back to who I used to be."
LOVE YOURSELF FIRST
“That’s a mistake a lot of women make: putting someone else first. I think it’s very sweet when people say they have to be selfless in love. You can love selflessly, but you have to love yourself first.”
LEARN THE LESSON
“The same mistakes, the same failures, occur in our lives not to tell us we’re not worth it, but because we haven’t conquered that problem. Some women will go from the same type of man to the same type of man. They haven’t learned their lesson. You have to sit back and try to learn from the situation.”
MIXING BUSINESS AND LOVE
“I learned from my situation that I don’t want to work and be in a relationship with the same person. I will not do that. I don’t want to mix business and pleasure. I want to keep it very separate because when you’re living with someone in a romantic relationship, there has to be some level of excitement to keep it fresh. You want to have your life and his life and your life together. You have to have balance. And that’s something I learned. If it gets very hot, it’s going to burn quick like a candle. Take care of it. Try to make it last. How do you make things last? Be your own person.”
WHAT SHE’S WORKING ON NOW
“Right now I’m writing a sequel for my book. The sequel is about being single and creating a love situation. We’re also turning Letters, To The Men I Have Loved into a television project, alongside the sequel. And I’m also writing a poetry book that will be English/Spanish. Some people wish the sequel would already be out, but I want it to be released next year ideally by Valentine’s Day. This book is about decisions - those decisions you make after the breakup - and how to deal with the ex when they come back. You know, they all come back.”
FAVORITE SONGS ON HEARTBREAK
“When I wrote my book I listened to Stay by Rihanna a lot. When I experienced that first big breakup at 21, I listened to Keyshia Cole. The breakup before that I listened to Mariah Carey’s Emancipation of Mimi, We Belong Together. Mary J Blige, Not Gonna Cry. Faith Evans, I Can Love You. Lauryn Hill, Ex Factor. That one maybe takes the cake. But can I tell you something? I think honestly when you’re going through a heartbreak, you shouldn’t listen to these songs after you cry it out. If you keep remembering the heartbreak, you’re never going to move on from it. It’s one thing in the first month. Cry it out. You know, one time after a breakup I was listening to Cher’s If I Could Turn Back Time, but I realized I didn’t want to turn back time. That person wasn’t meant for me. The reason people break up is because something out there is better for you. I want Simply The Best [starts singing the Tina Turner song]. Better than all the rest. Better than anyone. I want to tell my husband ‘You’re better than all the rest.’ So I think you cry it out, and then you should get a power song. Always.”
STILL AN IDEALIST ABOUT LOVE
“I’m a little bit more cautious when it comes to love, but I’m still very hopeful that I’m going to find my real love of my life. That I’m going to have the family and the kids and a house up here [points to the Hollywood Hills out the window]. I genuinely hope and believe that I’m going to have all of those things. A lot of people say we can’t have it all, but why not? Maybe you can’t have it all at once but why not strive for it? Did heartbreak make me more realistic? Yeah. More practical, yeah. But I’m still an idealist. I still want my heart to jump when I see that person. I just pray for it to be different. Before I used to say, I want to be so in love. Now I pray, I want to be mutually so in love. I want them to feel the same. Obviously the level of love won’t be the same every day, but it will be mutual.”
Photographed by Ellen Huerta.