Monday, October 11, 2010

"So What's Your Blog About?" "I Thought It Was About Me... As It Turns Out, It's About Everyone Else."

I knew this woman once who said that she didn't want to bother looking for a partner or be in love with anyone. When asked why, she scrunched up her face into a look of disgust and simply replied "Because relationships are messy." 

Boy, ain't that the truth. 

I had planned on doing a mini travel blog during these five days I've spent with Jeremy at Lake Tahoe. Oh, let me address something quickly… I have not fallen in love with a new man over the last few days - after discussing the probability of my blog going viral soon, given his profession and the fact that he takes money from casinos for a living, we both thought it would be in his best interest not to have his real name in my blog, especially because there are photos of him on here and he is often a popular subject in my writing, especially as of late. Having his name linked with a picture is a lot easier for identification purposes and we both enjoy his VIP lifestyle too much to risk losing it. So, his new name, at least in my blogworld, is Jeremy. I guess as long as I don't accidentally call it out in the heat of passion, we are okay.  

Anyway, Lake Tahoe… yes, I was going to do a similar blog to what I did with my England trip last year. I took notes and pictures the first few days we were here and even opened up my laptop a few times to sit and write. However, while the lake is unbelievably gorgeous and I've enjoyed the places we've visited here so far, there has been a LOT more going on with me emotionally and making mundane and superficial comments about the atmosphere seemed… inauthentic. As with everything else I write, I knew it needed to have more substance than that and I also knew that something unsettling had been going on between me and Jeremy and I think maybe I wanted to see how it was going to play out first. 

Being around someone for a significant period of time always brings up issues for me. I start to dissect every little thing that is going on. I notice behaviors that I hadn't noticed before. I start to wonder if I'm in too deep or over my head about things. I have been on the prowl for my perfect match for years and years. I have a very clear idea in my head of what perfection looks like to me and any time something happens that isn't consistent with this picture, I begin having doubts about the relationship. My expectations in a partner are extremely high. My expectations in people are high in general, which could be the reason why I don't have a lot of close relationships. It's certainly the reason I rolled into my 30th year as a single woman. 

The only thing that increases these feelings more than simply being around someone for a long period of time, is being in a car with someone for seven hours followed up by five straight days in a hotel room. Behaviors that I have found cute in the past were suddenly annoying and my moods kept swinging back and forth from having a wonderful time with my boyfriend to needing time alone NOW! I started getting frustrated about the fact that even though he reads all my blogs, I still couldn't get a door opened for me. I was upset that with all these beautiful photo opportunities we had, not once did he ask to get a picture with me. I hated that Saturday and Sunday were spent riding a financial rollercoaster of sports betting instead of simply enjoying the football games that were on. I was hurt that whenever I asked about a specific college team I was trying to learn about or get more details on a particular rule that was different than the NFL, because he would respond in a frustrated and condescending manner towards me. I did not like watching him lose thousands of dollars because the Broncos couldn't go four downs without getting a penalty flag. 

I spoke to him a little about my frustrations and, as always, he surprised me with his very open approach to feedback. The last two days, every door has been opened for me and he did try a lot harder yesterday to be a better sports fan than the day before. He makes it clear to me all the time how much he is willing to change in order to make this relationship work. But then I start to feel like "that girl" that falls in love with her man and then immediately tries to make him into something that is a better fit for her. I found myself conflicted, thinking "if he were really the right man for me, I wouldn't need to ask him to change all of these things about himself". I have been yo-yoing the past few days emotionally, trying to figure out what all this means. As usual, thinking too much. 

And then last night, at dinner, the shit really hit the fan. In a completely innocent way and without the intention of trying to hurt my feelings, Jeremy asked me how I was going to handle it when I became a famous writer and, inevitably, become more of a public figure, and would need to address the issue of my front teeth and how they are a little messed up and might appear a little…. trashy. 

How cute is it that he thought this statement wouldn't bother me. 

Needless to say, I flipped out. The rest of our dinner was spent with me going back and forth between fits of rage and tears of inadequacy. All of the emotions I had been going through the past few days came out in a petty, superficial "well you aren't perfect either!" kind of way. He kept trying to assure me that it wasn't a problem for him and that he loved me for who I was. He honestly didn't think it was a conversation that was going to bother me and would never have brought it up if he had any idea I was going to react the way I did. He told me that he forgets sometimes that people aren't as cerebral as he is nor do they take feedback as easily and constructively as he does. He wasn't even saying that I needed to fix anything about myself, just wanted to make sure I was ready for any negative feedback I might get from a society that expects their public figures to be "perfect". But now that I mentioned it, when exactly was I going to tell him that all these things he's been doing have been bothering me? Why was I withholding and how did I expect the relationship to work if our lines of communication aren't open? What kind of fucked up idea of a "perfect man" am I wanting, anyway? Am I just setting myself up to be constantly disappointed? Do I want to stay single? 

It was a long dinner. 

There are a couple of major downfalls that come with getting involved with someone so quickly. By day three of being together, Jeremy and I knew that we were "in it". We were a couple. I think it's easy to say that we had mutually chosen each other as life partners as that point. While there are parts of this that are definitely romantic and exciting, there are some other things that get a little lost in this process. For example, the "getting to know each other" part. Yes, he had read all of my blogs and told me some of his most intimate stories before we even met. We clearly have a connection and a strong bond that neither of us have felt with anyone else. However, with my tough girl facade, it's sometimes hard to tell what offends me and what doesn't. For example, he probably won't ever bring up my teeth again. But he wouldn't have known any better had he not brought it up the first time. I knew that he gambled for a living and that football season is basically his busiest time of year, but I had no idea how frustrating it was going to be to try and enjoy watching a football game with him that he has money on, let alone four at the same time. These are the things we learn about each other as we get to know one another. And we both dove into this relationship head first with no floating devices so yes, inevitably, there were going to be challenges. 

As always, everything happens for a reason. We talked through everything until we were the last people in the restaurant. By the time we were done, we had recommitted to be the best partners for one another because regardless of the things that might upset or frustrate us about each other, they pale in comparison to the love and connection that we have that we know is so much more powerful than any other bridges we come to that we are going to have to cross. And as he puts it, there will be many. He told me to reexamine my idea of perfection and what I think I am looking for in a man. Then he told me again that one of the reasons he loves me so much is because I make him a better person every day. He loves my feedback. He loves being with me and wants to be the best boyfriend, fiance and husband he can possibly be. And he can only be these things if our communication lines are wide open. He admits that he isn't easy to be with and pointed out that there was a reason he was still single at 35. But we both know that we crashed into each other for a very specific purpose. And while the collision resulted in even better versions of what both of us were previously, the impact left some pieces to be picked up. 

I have never in my life met a man like this before. And I would be a fool to not see that perfection has been given to me. And his blogworld name is Jeremy. 

There is something else that has come up for me that I'd like to address. I'm done with The Rules. I don't want them to be a part of my life anymore. I don't want rules of any sort to be a part of my life anymore. In the beginning, I thought that putting them in place would accomplish a few things. First and foremost, I would see significant changes in my life and attract positive opportunities. Secondly, it would give me some discipline and focus so that I could successfully change my belief system in regards to cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, sex and gambling. Finally, it would give me something to write about, something that I could use as a lifeline for a book. It was this third reason that I became overwhelmingly attached to. 

A lot of people will be asking what my blog is about when I attend that convention next weekend. Obviously, I want to have an accurate answer for them and the truth is, this blog is not at all about rules. It's about living a life of responsibility and accountability and using my life experiences as a platform to speak into what this means on a level where other people can relate to it. I subscribe to the idea of choice and that everything we have or don't have in our lives is because of choices we have made and continue to make every day. My brother, who doesn't often offer up advice, did give me one of the most valuable pieces of it a when he and his wife first became a couple. He told me that the reason they worked so well together is every morning, they wake up and choose to be together. They knew that if there ever came a time where they felt they were staying together as an obligation or out of fear of not having anyone else, they would go their separate ways. I remember him telling me this with such conviction and it's something that I've never forgotten. 

When I put the Rules onto paper that morning, before heading out to celebrate my birthday in San Diego, I made my choice to have my life be different. And in that moment, it was. I quit smoking cigarettes because I knew it was the ultimate birthday gift I could give to myself. I knew I needed to quit smoking weed and having a "rule" about it helped me realize that I don't need it in my life anymore. I enjoyed drinking but figured going a year with hard liquor would be an interesting project. At the time, I was drinking with the intention of getting wasted and then getting behind the wheel. I put that "rule" in place because I knew I needed to end this behavior. Really, Tina? I actually needed to make a rule to no longer drink and drive? It's easy to see this now - it's easy to realize that all I needed to do was simply choose NOT to live a destructive lifestyle through alcohol. By disciplining myself to the point of no longer taking three or four shots and then driving across town in the middle of the night, I was able to see very quickly how the way I was living my life before was not working for me. Seeing how little I respected my life and the lives of others by drinking and driving was a reality check for me that I have taken very, very seriously. The other side of this, though, is that enjoying some wine with my boyfriend while at dinner or indulging in a margarita by the pool or a bloody mary at brunch… these things are not destructive to my life or the lives of others. As far as alcohol is concerned, for me, it is as easy as making better choices. 

I suppose this same theory applies to the gambling although this rule, admittedly, just sounded good and seemed to round off my supposedly year long "sin free" lifestyle rather nicely. Yes, I played way too much Keno and I didn't lie about missing that car payment that one time. But honestly, I don't have a gambling problem. I had a bit of an "alone" problem for a long time and so going to a random bar, drinking in excess for the cost of whatever I decided to stick in the Keno machine and making friends with bartenders was definitely more of an issue for me than the actual gambling ever was. And Jeremy is right, having a different outlook to gambling changes the whole game. And this is coming from someone who DID have a gambling problem and was told by everyone that the only way he was going to "get better" was to quit completely. Instead, he decided to change the way he thought about gambling - and life, for that matter - and found himself in a position where not only did he have the chance to make a very large amount of money through a gambling opportunity he discovered, he brought his friends and family in on this opportunity and made them money as well. I have a completely different respect for money than I had before. Specifically, I no longer feel like I'm not good enough to have it. I know I'm worthy of wealth and prosperity. I am not afraid to accept financial opportunities that come my way. I no longer want to get rid of the money I do have as quickly as possible because I think it's bad to have it. My conversation about money has changed. Right now. As I'm writing this… wow. And here I just thought I didn't know how to make money. I've always known how to make money - I just didn't think I deserved it therefore I found ways to get rid of it as quickly as possible. What a breakthrough… I have been trying to change my beliefs about money for years and I think I finally just did. 

As far as the sex, I think I pretty much covered that in one of my recent blogs. To reiterate, I am having sex with a man that I am in love with. I chose to have sex with him because of a connection that we have. Our sex is meaningful, passionate and fun. I am no longer having sex because I feel like I should, or to manipulate someone or because I feel bad about myself. Someone who was aware of my sexual history told me once to never let anyone else touch my body with the disrespect that I was allowing it to be touched with ever again. He told me I was worthy and beautiful and didn't need to treat my body like it was a piece of shit. Even after he told me this, I didn't believe him… and went on for years using sex and my body as a reason not to connect with someone on a deeper level. I used sex in place of vulnerability. Now, I am vulnerable with my lover on such a deep level that that sex is all that more fulfilling. It's become the dessert of the relationship, not the main entree. 

My beliefs about all these things have changed. I have already achieved the first two reasons The Rules were put into place to begin with. Like I mentioned, I have been struggling recently with the idea of no longer having these rules as a part of my blog. I definitely didn't want to seem like I couldn't follow through on my commitments and I also wanted to have something that I could turn into book form. Without something specific to write about, what was supposed to be my main subject? Me? 

Yes, actually. My friend Whitney said it best… narcissism is a bitch. 

So here I am. My name is Tina and I live a life of responsibility and accountability. I make mistakes all the time. But every morning, I wake up and recommit to be the best person I can be that day. I don't blame anyone else for the unfavorable things that happen in my life and I also don't give anyone else any credit for all the wonderful things I have. My life is reflection of the choices that I make every second of every day. I don't pray to a God to make my life better and I don't cross my fingers and hope things will work out for me. I write my story. I don't give my power to anyone else because I know everything I need to have everything I want is already inside of me. My blog is about being the best version of me that I can be with the intention that those who choose to read it will access their power and write their own story. 

And yes, sometimes life can get messy. As the phoenix reminds us, it's from the ashes that we rise and show the world who we truly are. As Jeremy made me realize last night, life is not about finding perfection, it's about identifying those things in others that help us become the biggest versions of ourselves. It's in the giving and receiving that we all become whole. We are not all that different, you and I. And together, we are everything. 

It was said best and most simply in Trainspotting… 

Choose Life. 


  1. "As the phoenix reminds us, it's from the ashes that we rise and show the world who we truly are."

    I love that. There is this beautiful song called "Ashes to Beauty" written by a Christian artist and it's all about that concept of leaving the old you behind and embracing the best of yourself through God (obviously in your case ignore the God concept). But yes, I love that you came to this conclusion with the help of your beloved Jeremy. Relationships are like Pie. Hard and surfacey (yes I just made that word up) in the beginning and as you cut through all the crap you discover the most delicious part of it all, the filling! And yes it's messy to eat, but it's delicious and each bite is new and satisfying!

  2. p.s. Tell Jeremy his cerebral cortex is clearly not functioning adequately and tell his frontal lobe to chill out! LOL :) love you guys.