Unnecessary is the only word that actually comes to mind when I think about the references made to R&B songtress, Lauryn Hill in Wyclef Jean’s latest memoir, Purpose: An Immigrants Story, which hit bookshelves back in September. The book appears to cover various aspects of Jean’s life; however, the most talked about and seemingly most relevant story told is the one where he makes reference to his love affair with the former group member. Although this toxic romance was one that most Hip-Hop heads were already aware of, he took it a step further when he proceeded to drag old skeletons out of the closet surrounding their relationship, going as far as to say that he was deceived into believing that Lauryn’s first born child, Zion, was his. Now, whether his accusations were true or not, those are some pretty damaging words, especially considering the fact that the affair was now water under the bridge and he was now discussing a child who is old enough to understand what’s going on. But, whatever, this isn’t a Wyclef bashing session.
Many waited with anticipation for Hill to shoot out a rebuttal through her publicist either confirming, denying or even expressing her feelings on her former group member’s accusation, but for nearly two months she remained silent. And finally, when the hype around the memoir had died down and she felt like she was ready to speak on it, she broke her silence during a concert in Dallas. I respect the fact that she didn’t allow anyone to force her into responding and that she didn’t react in an emotional fit of rage. She was calm, cool and collected:
“A lot of misunderstanding out there. A lot of miscommunication out there. A lot of false information out there. And notice, out of all the people who talk talk talk, who’s the silent one.”
“There’s a lot of chatter, but me…. And you know why? Let me tell you why I don’t chat back. Because I know that my brothers and my sisters are often times pawns in a bigger scheme so when they, under pressure, attack me. It’s called the high road. Try taking it sometimes.”
Her level-headed and sensible response did something for me deep down inside. It was much deeper than me being a big Lauryn Hill fan and feeling content because she got the last word. In that moment I realized that it didn’t really matter if she ever responded to the claims because she was at peace with herself and the situation and furthermore, she doesn’t owe anyone an explanation. She represented a woman who knew how to let go of the past and refused to slop around in the mud with someone who no longer held a position of importance in her life. It was eye-opening. It was liberating. It made me take inventory of how I handle the Wyclefs in my own life. Most of all, it got me to thinking and wondering how much happier and freer so many of us would be if we embarked on this high road as well.
I’m sure we all have at least one person in our lives running their traps about us. But, whether their statements are valid or not, we are not obligated to go tit for tat, especially when it comes to exes. Men sometimes have the ability to be extremely insensitive once a relationship is over and the things that come out of their mouths can be hurtful, but getting into petty disputes over it and always feeling the need to make sure people know “how it really went down” is only a backwards way of being dragged back into the relationship. In doing this, you ultimately limit yourself from moving past the situation and hinder your heart from fully healing. It is easy to feel as if you’ve lost when you’re not spitting hot venom back at those who are slamming you, but sometimes silence says so much more.
Jazmine Denise is a writer living in New York. Follow her on Twitter @jazminedenise