Look, I am not a hater. I’m not. But I came extremely close to crossing that line when my long-time fantasy man, Nas, fell in love with curly-topped chanteuse Kelis. I have, after all, been holding a candle for him since I scraped together my little struggling duckets in high school to buy Illmatic, which is, to this day, my favorite hip-hop album of all time. Did she wash two family cars and vacuum her grandmother’s shag living room carpet to raise the money for the CD? I did. Did she mow over small children and elderly people to get a glimpse of his videos or turn his radio interviews up full blast? I did. Did she rewind his verses in that album and every one thereafter to sit in awe of his vivid storytelling and turns of phrase? I did.

No matter because there she was in 2005, donning a green dress with a Kool-Aid grin, a fur shrug and my boo tacked to her arm. I would’ve worn white with pink heels, which was better, I snorted, but relented that he had at least hooked up with an empowered, creative, thinking woman, not just a standard piece of celebrity arm candy. And so I bestowed them with a silent blessing and moved on to Kanye West.

Four years later, watching their train wreck of a divorce play out in the town square of public opinion, I felt for both sides of the now-rifted couple. There was plenty going on with them to have opinion about, not the least of which was the jaw-dropping, Fred-Sanford chest-clutching amount of monthly child and spousal support he was instructed to shell out to his new ex. But I knew, like most of us knew, that a woman will go for your financial jugular for a few reasons. The two biggest are either she was a golddigger to begin with or she’s scorned, and mollywhopping that man’s bank account is the only piece of revenge she can find comfort in.

Turns out, according to Nas himself, she was well within her right to seethe. He cheated, an admission he divulged while he’s been wearing his heart all out on his sleeve during the creation and promotion of his latest album, Life Is Good (which is a classic, if you haven’t heard it). In an interview on VH1, he said: “The biggest lesson I learned is respect. Trust. No infidelity. I, at some point, got pissed off during the relationship and strayed. And I wouldn’t do that again. I would be all good.” Hindsight is a real kick in the teeth, and it sounds like Nas is smacking on the bitter aftertaste of regret. Still, he learned a lesson. It was a hard one, but he’s walking away clearly more humble and insightful. And if and when he ever takes another stroll down the aisle, he’ll be a better man for that next woman. (Or me, whatever you want to call her.)

Even though we lament bad breakups and the heartache that goes along with them — Lord knows I’ve had my fair share — there really is something to be learned from the implosion of a relationship. About your personality, about how you want to be loved, about what you have to give to the next man, about your expectations for a partner, about the things that irk and irritate you, about how you could be a better woman whenever you’re ready for another go-round. In the midst of all of the reconciliation of feelings that may or may not include sobfests with your best girlfriend or writing scathing blog posts about your anger (guilty as charged), there’s healing introspection. May not feel like it at the time, but it is. You just have to find an outlet to reshape that negative hurt into positive a-ha moments. And it makes you better not only for yourself in the midst of your own storm, but for other people you need to speak support and encouragement to as they go through theirs.

Not that I expect Nas to start a let’s-share-our-feelings trend. Picture him and Game sitting around talking about the latter’s recently dissolved engagement or giving Snoop a few pearls of hard-earned wisdom about infidelity. And I doubt this kind of emotional transparency will catch on among his male fans, though it sure would be nice. But so long as he sees the light himself, that’s one less brother in the dark.