As WE have seen on the last few episodes of Braxton Family Values, Toni Braxton has been feverishly working with a co-author on her autobiography, Unbreak My Heart. In this memoir, Toni shares stories about the life decisions she has made which impacted her career, her family, and her health. Toni talks about her bankruptcy issues, Diezel’s autism, and her Lupus diagnosis. She reflects on how she took charge of her past, and used it to redirect her attention toward self healing. Get hooked on Toni’s new memoir by reading the exclusive excerpt!
An excerpt from Unbreak My Heart: A Memoir by Toni Braxton
I’m at a crossroads. More than four decades ago, I set out on a journey as a little girl with a huge dream—one that has carried me all the way from a dirt-filled plot in Severn, Maryland, to the stage of the Grammys and beyond. In one way, it’s a phenomenal gift to have your wildest dream actually come true. But in another way, when that happens, it can leave you with a profound sense of uncertainty about what to do next. That’s the juncture at which I stand—right in the middle of creating a road map of what my life could look like tomorrow. Next year. In a decade. Forever.
My dream is as much born of passion as it is of deep reflection—that is the privilege of carving out a new path in adulthood, during life’s second act. This book is the sum total of that reflection. On every page, in every sentence, with every anecdote I recount, I am daring to examine both the steps and missteps that have led me to this moment. But I’m not simply looking back as some kind of emotional exercise—for me, the point is to find my way to the next best place.
Someone wise once said that pain is information—it’s our bodies’ way of telling us, “Pay attention—something isn’t working here.” So especially as I ponder the most distressing moments of my journey—those times when life has become burdensome enough to take me to the brink—I’m looking ahead with that ultimate hope. And what is that hope? That peering back at my past heartbreaks will ultimately lead to healing. That is the only real point in reflecting on any experience—to find a purpose in it that leads you toward wholeness.
Nothing about my story and yours may seem to resemble at first glance. And yes, it’s true—my mountaintop moments and my lowest points really are unique to me. Only I can tell you what it’s like to live through the combination of experiences that has filled my years. But from another perspective, my path is also very much like the one you’ve traveled. You may not have grown up as the first-born of six in a town few people have even heard of. You may not have been diagnosed with lupus, cared for a son with autism, or cried your way through two humiliating bankruptcies and an agonizing divorce. But like every other person who has ever lived, you know what it means to ache. To love. To laugh. To regret. Our circumstances may be different—but the emotions that come with being human are what connect us all.
The lessons of my journey are plentiful—and here is one. I’ve realized just how much of myself I’ve suppressed. I’ve sacrificed a lot of who I am to make the people around me happy. No longer. I’ve entrusted people who didn’t have my best interest at heart. That chapter is now permanently closed. I don’t know exactly what the coming years will bring, but I do know this: I will never again hand over my power to another human being. To do so is to hand over life itself—and at long last, I’m getting mine back.
You may know me best by the songs I’ve shared with the world. “Breathe Again.” “Seven Whole Days.” “Un-break My Heart.” To know my creations is to indeed know one part of who I am. But behind every lyric, behind each of those melodies and countless others, there lies a story that I’ve never been brave enough to tell. In this moment—standing at this crossroads—I have at last found the courage.
From the book Unbreak My Heart. Copyright 2014 by Toni Braxton. Reprinted by permission of It Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.