Hello. This is the story of how a children’s show helped me realize how I’ve fucked up some of my relationships and how I can fix them.
When I was a kid, my favorite TV show was The Powerpuff Girls. I’d argue with anyone that the original run of that series is one of the greatest television programs of all time (fight me). It was truly empowering, surprisingly hilarious and even sometimes scary (I mean, remember Him? The terrifying, gender-queer demon queen in thigh-high boots and a feather boa? I stan forever)!
I also digress because today, I find myself thinking about another recurring villain on the show: Mojo Jojo. In a season 1 episode titled “Mr. Mojo’s Rising,” Mojo Jojo, the monkey mastermind behind multiple schemes to destroy Townsville realizes how his arch nemeses, the titular Powerpuff Girls, came to be in his life and foil all of his plans. Spoilers inbound.
See, Mojo has rose-colored memories of his life before the Powerpuff Girls came to ruin it. According to him, they took away the happiness he once had as the faithful lab assistant to Professor Utonium, who would go on to create and father the Powerpuff Girls and seemingly abandon Mojo Jojo.
In the episode, Mojo kidnaps the girls and the professor and holds them hostage in an attempt to make them atone for how his life turned out. However, all of them eventually come to realize that Mojo’s past wasn’t as picturesque as he portrayed (come thru, P’s! #alliteration) and that he wasn’t a loving lab assistant at all, he was a complete pain in Professor Utonium’s ass, constantly making a mess and ruining experiments.
In fact, it was through Mojo’s own toxic behaviors that the Powerpuff Girls were created in the first place! He literally pushed the professor into the vat of Chemical X that gave the girls the superpowers that they use to defeat Mojo time and time again.
Through clarifying details about the past that Mojo tried to ignore and hide away, he eventually comes to realize that his behaviors as a terrible partner and lab assistant helped create his worst enemy. His nightmare is his own fault.
The episode ends with the girls and the professor thanking Mojo for bringing them together while Mojo Jojo stands in shock, struggling to cope with this harsh reality, repeating over and over again as the episode fades to black, “It was me. It was me. It was me.”
That’s how I feel today. I am Mojo. Mojo am me.
In order to truly become great, we sometimes need to take a step back and take a good look at the times when we were… not so great.
We’re at a time of the year when we as a society resolve to evolve, to become better versions of ourselves. But in order to truly become great, we sometimes need to take a step back and take a good look at the times when we were… not so great. As I continue on my own journey of growing and healing and strengthening my mental health, I too, have had to come to some harsh realizations about myself.
I am in the process of understanding my mental health, and coming to terms with how my depression has manifested itself in my real life, specifically in my relationships with other people. When I’m struggling, I’m not my best self. And when I’m not my best self, I’m not showing up for work, I’m not cleaning the home I share with my roommate, I’m not being nice to my mom and family, I’m not talking to my best friend or the boy I’m dating. Basically, I’m (sometimes) being a moody bitch.
While being a victim to my own mind, I inadvertently become the villain in the lives of friends, family, coworkers and potential partners who had to deal with my moodiness, unreliability and negativity (when I wasn’t being distant and aloof and isolating myself from them, that is). The times when I wasn’t feeling my best, I wasn’t acting my best.
It’s hard to really be honest with yourself about the ways your emotions or behaviors may have hurt other people but harsh realities have to be recognized, or else they’re repeated (#alliteration strikes again!). And you can find yourself not moving, not changing, not growing and before you know it, you’re back to your old ways. Just like Mojo sat there repeating his shame over and over again. And by the next episode, he was trying to destroy Townsville as usual, never to succeed, never learning anything.
In order to truly heal, I have to take ownership of how I’ve hurt the people I love in my life. A lot of my relationships have suffered, both professional and personal. Unfortunately, some of those relationships never recovered. And that makes me sad, that’s something I regret.
But that regret, that guilt and that shame serve no one, least of all myself. Shame blocks self-love and self-love gives you the resolve and the energy to care about yourself and others. Regret is just another way of avoiding reality, of not seeing the role you played in your own downfall, but also not seeing the potential for a comeback.
In addition to helping me come to terms with how my toxic behaviors have ruined my life, this kid’s show offers clues into how I can recover what I lost.
If I want to heal, I have to take ownership of how I’ve hurt the people I love in my life.
In the episode, while Mojo is in his semi-catatonic state, the girls aren’t even really mad at him. They’re laughing, they’re flying away, they’re free. They realize that the accidental addition of Chemical X into their lives was a gift and instead of being sad and angry and destructive like Mojo, they use their unique circumstances to help others, while Mojo is unable to cope.
We can be free, too.
If you are like me and struggling with your own negativity or bad habits or difficult to manage mental health, don’t be like Mojo. Don’t be a victim to your circumstances forever. Get the help and healing you need. Take the lessons you’re learning about yourself and use them to raise yourself up to a better, more powerful version of you. After all, the episode is called “Mr. Mojo’s Rising.” I always wondered about that title. I assumed it was some obscure pre-90’s reference that I was as yet unaware of but now, think it’s meant to be hopeful. Mojo missed an opportunity to rise up and meet his better self. But you don’t have to.
Coming to these realizations about yourself is not an easy thing, nor is fixing the damage you’ve caused. When opening your eyes to how you may have been the perpetrator of your own pain and the pain of others, you may feel immediately compelled to reach out and make amends. This isn’t necessarily a bad impulse but it still places the burdens of forgiveness, understanding, vulnerability and trust on the other person, when they are your burdens to carry.
My suggestion: Show, don’t tell. Don’t tell simply people you’re trying to be different, be different! Show that you aren’t the same person. Get the healing you need to be more kind, reliable, present and loving to the people in your life. Show up to work on time, follow through on projects you may have abandoned, make plans with your friends and family, be kind and honest with others.
And don’t make these changes just so people will forgive you, do it so you can forgive yourself and move forward. It may feel good to have that release and vulnerability of simply telling a person “I’m sorry” and “I’ll change from now on,” but other people’s approval isn’t going to heal you, only you can do that. It’s no one else’s responsibility to love us back to ourselves. We have to love ourselves back to ourselves. We have to put in the work to get there.
I told you, this kid’s show is profound. It’s fixed my life more than I think Iyanla ever could.
Take the lessons you’re learning about yourself and use them to raise yourself up to a better, more powerful version of you.
As the New Year approaches, I’m noticing (and I’m sure you’ve noticed too), a lot of people talking about all of the things they’re leaving behind in 2018. Their resolving to let go of the toxic, complicated, manipulative and all-around negative people in their lives.
It’s an awesome sentiment. But when I think too hard about it (or see it floating around Instagram too many times), it stings a little bit. Because I’m realizing that, for some of the people in my life, I might be the toxic, complicated, manipulative, negative person in their lives that they want to let go of.
But there’s another pre-New Year cliché that I think is applicable here: new year, new me.
I can let go of me, too. I can let go of the me I used to be. That’s going to take a lot of work. It will be hard. But it will be worth it.
What role did you play in your own heartbreak or personal pain? Who are you holding hostage or accountable when you should be taking responsibility for your actions and setting yourself free? How can you be a better version of yourself in the new year?