Meet Bruna Nessif, the relationship author teaching us all how to ‘Let That Shit Go’


Ever feel like your relationships are in a continuous loop? Same situations, over and over? Let That Shit Go by Bruna Nessif is here to help.

Bruna Nessif, creator of the popular relationship blog The Problem With Dating, chats with Culturess about her first book, Let That Shit Go: A Journey to Forgiveness, Healing & Understanding Love.

In her book, Nessif shares a compilation of true stories that detail her intimate relationships with various men, going deep into the heart of each and every one. Chapter after chapter, she recounts lessons that continued to arise, but were conveniently ignored. For us, the reader, we’re experiencing these lessons right with Nessif, and come away from it all with our own unique perspective on love and self-worth.

Nessif spoke with me about both the fear and joy of getting personal, and how her book is a must-read for anyone seeking the tools they need to just let that shit go.

For starters, what was your inspiration for Let That Shit Go?

“Initially, I was going to do a book of poetry… I wrote a poem and my friend, he used to be an English T.A. at UCLA, I asked him ‘Hey, would you look it over.’ So he looked at it and he was like, ‘You know, this is really great and it’s good material, but I also feel like you’re not going deep enough and you’re kind of playing it safe’

I was like, what do you mean? And he said, ‘You’re not giving the reader the full story.’

And that’s when I went back to thinking then it becomes more personal and it’s my story versus just like a somewhat big poem that you can correlate to any experience. And he said ‘It doesn’t matter. Like that’s where the need is.’ So I kept that in mind. Like he definitely planted a seed… I realized I could actually write a book if I wanted to.

Every time I kept looking at the one that I had of all the poetry, I was like this doesn’t feel right. I don’t feel like this is the book. And I went into this idea that oh, I’ll do this poetry book first and then I’ll do this book, and get deeper… His critiques were in my mind and then a part of me realized I was basing this off of the ideal situation that you can release more than one book. And you know, life happens, you don’t know what’s going to happen.

I came to the conclusion that if I am only able to write one book in this lifetime for whatever reason, I want it to be this book. I don’t want to hold back anymore. I want to be very honest. I want to put my story out there because I think a part of me knew instinctively that it’s not just my story. The story can be so many other people’s stories and I want to be able to know that I really gave it my all and I put 110 percent into it with as little fear as possible. So I did.”

Chapter after chapter, we learn about your journey through relationships you’ve had. Some were more positive, others got fairly dark. What was the hardest for you to open up about?

“It varies. I think there were multiple challenging parts for sure, for different reasons. Obviously opening up about the self-harm that I did as a teenager was hard because a lot of people didn’t know about that. It wasn’t so much hard to talk about it because it’s so far back now that it almost feels like it happened to a different person. But like it was more so hard because I knew that people who love and care about me, my parents especially, would be reading this and I was more worried about how they would react and feel. So that was difficult.

The sexual assault was difficult for different reasons too, just because that was a new revelation. Like I didn’t realize that that is what that was until last year and it happened like so many years ago… I wasn’t even gonna put that guy in the book.

I thought about that relationship obviously when I was thinking about like the outline of the book and which relationships had lessons in there. And I don’t know if I just like blocked it out of my memory or if the trauma was just so deep down that it wasn’t acknowledged.

When the realization came, everything else kind of flooded out with it. Like, oh, it wasn’t just that one time and that behavior is not allowed, and he was physically aggressive. I was blind to this and I consider myself such a self-aware person… it was so eye-opening to be like how many other women are just accepting this behavior because they think it’s normal?”

The chapter about sexual assault — The One Who Took My Innocence — explained so well how “there is no clear-cut picture of what sexual assault looks like.” In the wake of Me Too, with so many women opening up sexual assault stories, did it influence you to share yours as well?

“The fact that the Me Too movement did kind of spring up at the same time, and the events of this story resonated so much, and then seeing the dichotomy of responses to it from women… I feel like the universe was giving me so many signs like you need to address this, you need to address this, you need to address this.

But then there was fear too with that. I was afraid of him reading it or his family reading it and you know, challenging me and calling me a liar… But also I’m not making anything up. There’s also the possibility of other women shooting it down and discrediting that experience because I think a lot of people tend to discredit other people’s sexual assault just because it varies from their own or for whatever reason. That is such a disservice and that’s so hurtful to do and I just wish people would realize that more and understand that. One’s experience may differ from someone else’s, but that doesn’t make it invalid. It still happened to that person and they may deal with it a completely different way than you and just be respectful of that.”

When it came to sharing all of these personal reflections, did you have any reservations about friends or even family reading these?

“Everyone knew I was writing a book, my parents included. My dad’s chapter was another difficult one to write to when he [recently] visited, we talked about the book a little more because I wanted to try and give my parents a heads up without going too detailed into the content because I didn’t want it to be compromised by their reactions. So I told my dad this is what the book’s about, and he was not eager. He was definitely a little worried… I stopped him, and I was like, ‘Dad, I love you and I respect you, but I can’t worry about your feelings with this book. And I can’t worry about mom’s feeling. I can’t worry about the feelings of these guys that I’m going to write about.’

I can’t worry about anyone else’s feelings at this time other than my own because that’s gonna make me write a book that caters to everyone else, except for the purpose that I set out to do. And that was to be completely honest and to showcase certain memories or experiences that are not fun or pretty. But they happened.

I really had to strengthen my will and discipline to stay focused on the agenda and the message that I wanted to get across as opposed to people pleasing. Which is a problem of mine. Especially when it’s your parents, like you don’t want to piss them off or make them feel bad or hurt them.

I know that at least with my parents, anything that would go wrong with me they would automatically feel guilty for. When I did send them the book, I wrote a message with it and I said as you read this book, I just hope that you keep in mind that this is all in the past now and I don’t blame you for anything that may have happened. I’m just happy with where we’re at now and I hope you can see it with an open mind and just remember the lessons that came from it.”

Bruna Nessif, author of Let That Shit Go: A Journey to Forgiveness, Healing & Understanding Love

As for the men mentioned throughout your book, have any of them reached out to you or responded to their specific chapters?

“Well, my dad responded. He was the first one. He emailed me and he was very honest and let me know that he couldn’t bring himself to read the entire book, which may be a good thing, but he read the last few chapters, so I’m assuming it’s just the chapter about him and me and the prompts at the end. He was just like, ‘I just want to say that I’m so sorry for the pain that you went through when I didn’t know that I had anything to do with it. Obviously, that was never my intention. I don’t want to focus on the past because it seems like you’re in a much better place now. So I just want to focus on where we are now and where we’re moving forward.’

So that was really good and definitely took a weight off my shoulders to hear that.

And then a guy from the book, Chapter Four [The One Who Challenged Me], he called me and I mean we’re friends still to this day. So you know, I was anticipating a response from him and it was really good too. He said, ‘I wanted to call you and let you know that reading that chapter was an emotional rollercoaster for me because obviously, you know, recounting those details was fun and nice and I remember them as well and it was just really great to go back down that road that we experienced together. But then there were other parts that just really hurt my heart because I never thought about your perspective. I didn’t realize what you were going through on your end. Like I was in a very selfish place at that time. So it hurt my heart to know that I made you feel that way.’ And that was just so kind. And I felt that obviously, we’re good. Like you don’t even have to apologize because it’s all fine now, but I appreciate the call and he was like ‘No, I love you, I care about you. I’m really honored to be part of your story.’

And so that call was so great to get because with me, I feel like I’m so communicative. I really do try to let people in my life know what’s going on and where I stand. But to hear that, I felt maybe there is still this like open area of gray where they really just don’t know or maybe they’re not paying attention or maybe they’re choosing not to understand. But when it’s in a book and you’re reading it, there’s really no room left for interpretation. You’re getting my side of the story.

So I was just grateful that it was met with like compassion and it reaffirmed that maybe some of the other guys who are in the book will see that too and all understand more about my stance versus theirs.”

How have readers responded to your book and the lessons it offers?

“A lot of people are telling me, ‘Oh, it felt like I was reading my own journal’ or stuff like that. I was just like, that’s crazy. Because one of the things that I initially was apprehensive about was being super detailed and like telling my personal story because I was like, people aren’t going to relate to me because it’s my story. So to realize you can still tell your story and connect and resonate with a lot of people was just really heartwarming and comforting… but also kind of sad because then you realize, oh this happened to so many people. Why are we not talking about it more?”

With the way modern dating is now, it is refreshing to get this real, honest, at times hard but at times hilarious perspective. That definitely comes across in your book!

“I definitely wanted it to be like, just authentic. Watch dating shows or whatever and they try to make it realistic. But then there are certain issues around that would’ve never happened. You know, like that’s not real. That’s not how that would’ve gone down. So as much as I put really deep introspective topics in there, I also wanted to have lighthearted moments. Like yea, I went on this extremely great date with this guy and the whole time I was thinking of my period. Things like that, you know?”

Do you feel Let That Shit Go is a book that any person of any age can gain something from?

“Oh yeah, absolutely. I feel like letting go is just a lesson that spans across all demographics. I think the main like central lessons and themes I tried to express in the book are timeless. It doesn’t matter if you’re 15 and never really dated, 25 and single, or 35 and about to get divorced, whatever it may be, those central messages can apply to anyone because these are issues and struggle that everyone feels.

So that’s actually one of the things that I really wanted to make clear with the boo. I write a blog about dating and yes I do, you know, specify different relationships with men and it does have a lot of dating type of scenarios, but the messages are not strictly about dating. The messages are very much focused on self and on respect and on maintaining a healthy environment for yourself and a healthy relationship. It doesn’t always have to be an intimate relationship. It can be friends, family, whatever it may be, but the focus is always on self and that spans across any age group.”

Let That Shit Go: A Journey to Forgiveness, Healing & Understanding Love is available now. Get your copy here.