If you are a big Broadway fan, then you most likely know of the show "Waitress." With songs written by Sara Bareilles, this show is one that has touched many lives and has largely affected my own.
The main character (Jenna) works at a diner. She finds out that she's pregnant with her husband's (Earl's) child. She goes to her doctor, only to find that her doctor is being replaced by a new (male) doctor — Dr. Pomatter. Jenna and Dr. Pomatter eventually fall into having an affair, and things just get messier along the way.
Here's the thing, though. Earl is majorly mentally and verbally abusive. He is manipulative, controlling and insecure, and he takes all of that out on Jenna. He's also an alcoholic and seems to have anger issues, putting Jenna in physical danger.
At one point during the show, Earl sings a song for Jenna, and that's when we get to see a bit more of how manipulative and degrading he is toward her. In his song, "You Will Still Be Mine," he says, "So much is happenin', but mostly to me... now promise me. Till the end of time, these are ties that bind. Till the sun don't shine, you will still be mine."
He makes sure that she knows that he is the one that things are happening to and that she's just there. He forces her to promise to be there forever.
That's just not healthy.
Jenna goes on to say in one of her duets with Dr. Pomatter ("You Matter To Me"): "It's addictive the minute you let yourself think. The things that I say just might matter to someone. All of this time I've been keeping my mind on the running away."
It's no surprise that Jenna wants to run away from her life with Earl. She spends a good majority of the show hiding money, trying to save enough to start her own life away from him.
Again, that is just not healthy.
So many people are in relationships like that nowadays. They stay in toxic relationships just because they are scared of being alone, or they're being threatened in some way. You cannot let others walk all over you, like a doormat.
Do not let someone talk down to you, manipulate you or control you — especially not someone that you're in a relationship with.
Jenna says in her solo, "She Used To Be Mine": "It's not simple to say, that most days I don't recognize me. I'm not anything like I used to be. I still remember that girl. If I'm honest, I know I would give it all back for a chance to start over and rewrite an ending or two for the girl that I knew... She is gone, but she used to be mine."
She lost herself. Earl took who she was and squashed it. Kept her from following her dreams and from being truly who she was. It was all about him, and what he could get from her. Using her to lift himself up.
Please, do not buy into that. You are not just there to lift someone up. You are your own person, so please do not ever let someone squash your dreams or your personality.
Now, while I do not agree with Jenna's affair with Dr. Pomatter at all (since they were both married), I will acknowledge that she grew through that.
I am NOT saying that if you are in a toxic relationship, you should go have an affair. But Dr. Pomatter showed Jenna who she truly was. He gave her her voice back. And by the end of the show, she (spoiler!) ends the affair and her relationship with Earl. She takes her baby and leaves that jerk!
Jenna found herself again, and she found her voice. She got back that girl that she lost.
So, if you have been or are currently in a toxic relationship, I hope you find your true worth. Whatever he or she is telling you to tear you down is not true.
I hope you find your voice. And I hope you find inspiration from not just this article, but from "Waitress" — which shows that even if you've lost yourself to an unhealthy relationship, and even if you feel you're in too deep and there's no way to leave, you can.
You have a voice and a choice. It's not too late to stand up for yourself and get help.
We can all learn from Jenna and take her story to heart.