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[00:00:01]

I'm Oprah Winfrey, welcome to Super Cell Conversations, the podcast, I believe that one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself is time taking time to be more fully present. Your journey to become more inspired and connected to the deeper world around us. Starts right now.

[00:00:24]

Over the years, we did many shows with people who showed us how anger set them back, how holding on to the past set them back.

[00:00:35]

And I can't forgive her. And I think about it every day. And I'm so angry because the damage is done and I blame each and every one of them, everyone that had anything to do with this. I can't forgive him for what he did.

[00:00:48]

This is what I know for sure. I know that if you allow the past to define your present, that you never actually really get to live the life that you were meant to live because you're always holding on to what was and always holding and defining yourself by what was or what should have been or what could have been. And one of the best lessons for me with this is learning that revenge is another way that the ego shows itself. When you think that you deserve to be treated a certain way, you think you deserve to have things a certain way.

[00:01:26]

You think that you deserve, deserve, deserve, deserve. And other people have done you wrong instead of again living from the true self. Now, we all know Terry McMillan when she wrote Stella Got a Groove Back. And so many women love that story because it allowed them to think of themselves as still sexually vital and being attractive to younger men and doing your own thing and allowing yourself to not be bound by other people's conformity. So. What we didn't know is the mess that was behind Stella getting her groove back.

[00:02:10]

It was a story based on real life that gave millions of lonely women hope. Author Terry McMillan, famous for her best selling book Waiting to Exhale, revealed intimate details of her own steamy romance with a man twenty three years younger. That love story became another bestseller and a movie called How Stella Got Her Groove Back. It appeared as if Terry McMillan's lonely nights were over.

[00:02:40]

43 year old Terry McMillan was enjoying a tropical vacation on her own when 20 year old Jonathan Plummer caught her eye.

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Jonathan was sitting at a table at breakfast. He was looking at me and he smiled. And I was thinking, boy, oh, boy, what a sexy smile. And then he said, Would you mind if I join you? And I said, No, come on over. And I told him, I said, I'm old enough to be your mother. He said, But you're not my mother. And then I just started thinking, I'm on vacation.

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It's been a long time. He's fine. He's sexy as hell. Who would have to know? And I said, would you like to sleep with me?

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And he said, yes. It was so sexy.

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I really think I did see him as a work of art because I thought he was beautiful. He would stand behind me and he would kiss me on my neck. I loved him to death. We ended up three years later getting married for the first six years of our marriage.

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Our relationship was blissful.

[00:03:36]

But after six and a half years of marriage, Jonathan dropped a bombshell. What did he tell you? He said he was confused about his sexuality. And then he said, I think I might be gay. And there's a halogen lamp I have that has a base that's really heavy. Yeah. And I had it. And I said, you know what? I feel like taking this lamp and bashing your face in, but I'm not going to, then he stood up and he said, I am gay.

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He claimed he hadn't done anything yet, been with another man. OK, I said, you haven't done anything yet. I swear. I swear I haven't done anything yet. I said, well, that's sort of like me saying I'm an alcoholic, but I haven't had a drink yet.

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You all were having sex at the time regularly. Yeah. Yeah. So this is the thing. Had you never suspected that he was gay? No. Not gay. No, not gay. I always thought Jonathan was not the most masculine man that I'd really been with.

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But wouldn't that make you question. No, because all men are masculine.

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I mean, he wasn't effeminate. Not to me. There were things he did. He got on my nerves. He put spent more time in the mirror than I did. But he was just narcissistic. And I try not to hold that against him. But there were other things that he did for me that. Other men hadn't done the book in the movie How Stella Got a Groove Back, how close to the story is it? Is that this story now?

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Because that book a lot of people don't understand. I finished the book before Jonathan got off the plane to come to California. The book was finished before he even came to California. It was a fantasy.

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It was you projecting into the future.

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It was me to get trying to give myself permission to say it's OK to go out with this young man. Even though I was old enough to be his mother and it was dealing with the whole double standard issue that you can do it. And no one asked, is he trying to marry his daughter? Right. And so that was sort of what it was. It was giving myself an opportunity to do what made me feel good and not worry about what people thought.

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I think when you listen to Terry carefully, you can hear her say she wrote the book in defense of being able to explain to herself that this kind of relationship would be OK for her. So she was already defensive about it. She was already projecting what other people would think about it.

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I've known Terry McMillan through her work and her art in her. Talent and her books, and I was surprised that she no one wanted to come on TV and talk about this. OK, Jonathan, come on out.

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Let us meet you. I was even more surprised that Jonathan wanted to come on TV and talk about it, this is your chance to say to the world, were you lying to Terry about your sexuality all those six years?

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No, I wasn't lying about my sexuality. You were not lying. I wasn't.

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So, first of all, it's pretty apparent to me and I think a lot of other people that, you know, something else was going on there. But I think that somewhere inside herself, if she were absolutely honest. She knew something was off, even if she couldn't say that he's gay. She knew something wasn't right because you always get that little feeling. I call it a whisper, and the whisper is exactly that. It feels like something's off.

[00:07:12]

And then you allow yourself to tell yourself that it's something else or that it isn't what you actually really think it is. You don't use your own instinct, your own intuition, and allow yourself to be put in a position that you later have to suffer the consequences. And because I know and respect Teri, I was really questioning why is she doing this and why is she allowing herself to be put in this position and why is she still so angry?

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I trusted Jonathan and she would say the same thing to you, that she was very, very, very angry at that time.

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What was the anger about? Was about the betrayal and the deception. Was it what was the anger for all of it? Is it true that he wanted your money and to challenge the prenup? He did. You did? Yeah. Do you regret that? A little bit. What does that mean? I do regret, you know, the whole divorce proceedings, and it cost me a fortune over three hundred thousand dollars to make sure I didn't get my money.

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I could have just given Jonathan some money and said, go on, I'm not big on forgiveness, but why not?

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I don't. I don't. I don't. I just I say when I say I'm not big on forgiveness, I am really surprised because I accept who he is. So you've forgiven him? Yeah. I don't I forgive him for being gay, but I don't I don't like how it had happened. I don't like how we got here and I wish it hadn't happened. And all I'm hoping is that from this point forward that no one else is a victim that he deals with.

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That's all. As I know, everything in life is a mirror for ourselves. I am doing on that show what I'm asking you all to do now. You look at how this applies to your own life, at least hers was showing itself. I know for so many people it's pushed down internally. That's why people have road rage. That's why people are, you know, yelling at people who work for them because there's all this pent up. Unexpressed anger of holding on to something that you should have let go, and when she was able to let that go, everything changed.

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I think, for myself and I know many of you, you think forgiving means accepting what has happened to you? Well, it is accepting that it has happened to you, not accepting that it was OK for it to happen. It is accepting that it has happened. And now what do I do about it?

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Forgiving is giving up the hope, not holding on, hoping, wishing that it could have been any other way than it actually was, giving up the hope that the past could be any different. And when I got that, I think it took me to the next level of being a better person because I don't hold grudges for anything or any situation, and neither should you. It's letting go so that the past does not hold you prisoner, does not hold you hostage.

[00:10:34]

Please welcome back, Terry McMillan.

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Imagine this five years later when the producers come to me and say, guess who wants to come on the show and share their story of forgiveness?

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You know, my mouth dropped because I thought, really, how did that happen? What were the weeks and months like for you after that interview? I was pretty angry. Who were you mad at, Jonathan, particularly after that show? Yes, I was mad at him because you think your life turned into a public circus and did turn into a public circus. Yeah, well, despite signing a prenup, Jonathan sued for spousal support and attorney fees.

[00:11:16]

He was awarded twenty six thousand dollars 17 months later, Terri Sue Jonathan for 40 million dollars. Now, you know, he didn't have the money. Oh, it was a yes, it was a gesture. So you sued for 40 million dollars, but, you know, didn't have any money. Yeah. So it wasn't my idea. OK, so you what you sued because you wanted to not be validated? I sued because I wanted to.

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Basically. Puncture the lies that were told about me, OK, which lies No. There were a lot of things that were taken out of context, it takes a lot of time and energy to sue and money and money it takes when people have said to me, if people are saying things about your untrue, why don't you sue? Because it takes so much of your time and energy and money. And it just you have to stay in that space of being angry enough to do it.

[00:12:15]

You know, you have to stay keep yourself embroiled in that fighting mode all the time. Oh, yes. Yes. In that time, I was in that house for almost three years. Yes, but but the thing is, is this after a while. The anger, you own it and there's no room to let in beauty or love or any goodness, so why did you finally drop it when when was enough enough for you ultimately when you realized that it's your happiness and your joy that you were sabotaging and that the other person has absolutely nothing to do with it.

[00:12:51]

And so I just decided it wasn't even a decision. It was sort of like I realized that I just I lost one hundred pounds emotionally, just all the debris and the ugliness and the pain. And also, you know, like even when I called Jonathan to tell him he was free, I was free to at that very same moment, you know, anger and bitterness. It's an emotional termite. Yeah. It just eats. You can't let any goodness in, you know, good things happen.

[00:13:23]

I would never have known. I didn't know because you are living in the past instead of being able to see the present.

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I think that's so powerful, Terry.

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When we brought them back together, I did not know what to expect. Jonathan Plummers back. Terry's ex-husband is here.

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But something had changed. And the something was that Terry McMillan was able to really let go of the anger.

[00:13:48]

For the record, they just gave each other a big ol hug. How are things between you?

[00:13:54]

Things are great. I'm finally comfortable. I think so. I think he's not my bf. Right. Let me ask you both now.

[00:14:04]

Do you wish you'd handled it differently? I wish that I hadn't been so compelled to sue him and his attorney because the anger lingered and it wore me out.

[00:14:17]

I totally agree. The last time I was here, it just felt like, you know, I didn't give her the gratification that she deserved. And I'm truly sorry about the way things ended. What lessons?

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Because every relationship is here to teach you something about yourself. What did you learn from this process?

[00:14:35]

I realized that I needed to do what it would take to get me back to Happy. And that was and that was to basically let all of this go. Let it go. I had to let it go. And also, you know, I never you know, when I was ready to run him over, it wasn't because he was gay. I never hated his guts because he was gay, because, you know, a lot of gay people thought that.

[00:15:02]

No, I know. And that was part of one reason why I sued, because I hated the idea of being known as a homophobe. Jonathan, deep down inside, I knew I was not homophobic. Yeah. You know, I have too many gay and lesbian friends. Right? Too many. Yeah, too. And but anyway, the bottom line is, is that we all know why you were upset. Any reasonable person knows you're upset because you were betrayed, you were lied to.

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And I thought I would hate his guts for until I died. I really did, and I wanted to I really did because I thought that the more I hated him, the more he would suffer.

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But that's the thing about when you're carrying a grudge against somebody else. I realize this a long time ago, I was mad at somebody and then I happened to be this is many years ago. I was holding I can't remember what it was for. And I saw them on Michigan Avenue laughing. And I'm like, she ain't even upset. I'm walking around like, do you believe, across the street and I saw going into the Tiffany's store. I thought, not only is she laughing, she's laughing and going into Tiffany's.

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What am I doing? What am I?

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The truth is, you don't forgive for the other person. And that's what holds so many people in the space of unforgiveness because they think it means I've got to now do this for you, you forgive for yourself, forgiving is letting go of the hope that it could have been a different accepting it for what it was and being willing to move forward with your own life. And that's the only life you have any control over, you have no control over whether somebody else comes laughing out of the Tiffany store or whether someone else moves on with their life and remarries and has a wonderful, joyous, fulfilled sense of being in the world.

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You have no control over anything that happens to anybody else. And that is the great lesson of letting go of the past, letting go of the anger so that you can be free, letting go of the anger so that you can get the mud out of your wings, letting go of the anger so that you can accept the power that is within you and allow that power to move forward. After that show was over, I was so impressed with the way that Terry had handled it in that she.

[00:17:39]

Had had this aha, a pivotal moment that moved me and I know moved so many of our viewers, I called her and said, Terry, that was really great. That was really something. And she shared something that she did not share on the show. She shared with me that she had been in her car and she had been feeling this angst, this rage, this anger. And there was a moment where she let the car window down and she said she could actually feel the presence of the anger as an energy field, leaving her body and leaving the car.

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And she says, I did not say that on TV, but the truth is that was God. I'm Oprah Winfrey, and you've been listening to Super Soul Conversations, the podcast you can follow Super Soul on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. If you haven't yet, go to Apple podcast and subscribe rate and review this podcast. Join me next week for another super soul conversation. Thank you for listening.