Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I'm Guessing Ghandi Never Had An Affair

Typically, after a break-up, I like to get out of town. I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that getting away from all of the things that remind me of that person helps in the healing process. So, after Jeremy and I decided to call it quits (and before we reinstated our relationship a week later), I planned a trip out to California to see some friends. Even though we have breathed some new life into the relationship, I still decided to go ahead with the trip as I was able to connect with a few different groups of friends all over Southern California. And actually, this has worked out much better. 

Normally, these getaways are filled with self pity and contemplation on "what the hell am I going to do now?" This time, since I have nothing but good things to come home to, I have been able to really enjoy myself and this time away. 

Something happened last week with my energy. I shifted into a state of calm that I haven't been in for quite some time. I'm usually so caught up in the rat race and the "what's next". I get myself so worked up sometimes. Even Jeremy noticed it - he told me that I seem so much more relaxed than he's ever seen me. Is this what they mean when they talk about surrendering? Perhaps… all I know is that I'm really feeling like I'm moving in a new direction and am not afraid of it. At the same time, I'm not trying to force anything to happen or set any kind of expectations. The image in my head of how I want my life to look is getting clearer every day. 

Interestingly enough, with the clarity comes the realization that so much of what I want, I already have. I am being the person that I have always wanted to be. Honest, authentic and impeccable with my word. With this in mind, I have been reflecting on how destructive I have been in the past when it comes to withholding and being dishonest. Plus, a few things have happened this week that have reminded me of my past behavior and shown me how far I've come. 

A friend of mine wrote a blog about cheating. She is married now and uber faithful of course, but talked about her past when she snuck around behind her boyfriend's back to sleep with her old boyfriend. I appreciated the vulnerability of the blog as it did what I try to achieve with my writing. It made me think. 

I started to think about my cheating days and the kind of person I was back then. I thought about people in general and why we feel the need to bring other people into our life to fill a void. Sometimes we cheat for emotional reasons, sometimes physical. For me, I just loved it when someone paid attention to me and didn't want it to stop. So even though I had a man in my life who loved me to death and stimulated me both physically and emotionally, it wasn't enough for me. I've always been a bit of a flirt because flirting is fun. And since I never want the fun to stop, I've taken it too far on a few different occasions. 

About three years into my relationship with my ex, Eric, I went on a business trip to St. Louis. I was there with a bunch of other hotel Sales Managers. There was one that I had met before and knew fairly well. We had always flirted with each other but since he worked at a completely different property, our teasing was very safe. 

One night, after a day of meetings, a group of us decided to hit up the gambling scene in St. Louis. We had a lot to drink and I gambled pretty much all of my spending money for the whole trip. I was having fun though and kept the drinks coming. He and I started to get cozy and before I knew it, we were up in his hotel room having drunken, semi-conscious sex. I don't remember if we used a condom. The next morning, I woke up and looked over at this naked man next to me, passed out and sleeping soundly. I gathered my things, put on my clothes and proceeded to do the walk of shame back to my hotel room. 

He and his fiance were married less than six months later. I never told Eric about what happened. In fact, I never told anyone… except maybe Nancy. 

Last night, I was hanging out with my friend who lives in Costa Mesa. There is this bar that he talks about all the time and I told him to take me there so I would understand his constant Facebook references and bar jokes. The name of the bar is the Goat Hill Tavern. When he first told me about it, I felt a twinge of familiarity but wasn't sure why. The minute we walked into the bar, I remembered. The memories came rushing back to me as if they were yesterday. 

I had a crush on this guy I worked with at the hotel. To be on the safe side, any other details about who he was needs to stay with me as he has a family and who knows where this writing could end up one day… anyhow, we had a thing for each other. Once again, there was a lot of fun in the flirting because it was safe. He was married with three kids and I was happily involved with Eric. It went on for months. 

One night, a few of us from work went out for drinks and he and I ended up kissing. And not drunken, semi-conscious kissing either. I spent days afterwards thinking about his lips. My stomach flipped every time he passed my office. I closed my eyes and pictured his. We wasted entire workdays emailing each other back and forth. We took as many smoke breaks as we could without our bosses getting angry just to spend five more minutes together. 

One day, we lied to our respective partners about what we were doing and spent the day together. We went golfing all day and afterwards, decided to have a couple of drinks at a nearby bar. That bar was the Goat Hill Tavern. We drank beer, held hands underneath the table and snuck in a few kisses when we thought no one was looking. I was enjoying a very happy day for all the wrong reasons. 

Things at home were not going well. I was starting to disconnect from Eric and he knew it. He didn't know why but was trying everything he could to make me happy. Finally, I couldn't handle the guilt anymore and decided to tell him about this guy. I knew that I needed to end the relationship. I wasn't realistically thinking that this other guy and I could actually be a couple, but I knew that based on how strongly I felt about him, I was clearly not in the same place with Eric as I was when we first got together and fell in love. 

The conversation did not go well. He was so angry - rightfully so - and I ended up chickening out at the last minute. I told him I had made a huge mistake and that I wanted to make it right between us. I told him that it didn't mean anything and that I was drunk when I kissed him. I talked him into giving me a second chance. 

Things went okay for another month or so but my feelings hadn't changed. So, I did what I used to do best at the time when I was too much of a coward to tell someone how I was really feeling. I sabotaged the relationship. 

I told him I was going to a hockey game. I went to a bar and met this guy. We drank a lot. I told Eric I was going out afterwards with my girlfriend. Instead, he and I went down to the beach and had drunk, sloppy, uncomfortable and unprotected sex on the cold, hard sand. While in the process, someone snuck up on us and stole my purse. Keys, phone, wallet… gone. When I went home, Eric was awake and waiting for me. 

My face was a mess from the crying and panicking I'd been doing over my stolen items. He asked me where I had been. I made up some lame story about being with my girlfriend at a bar and having my purse stolen when I went to the bathroom. He didn't say anything for a minute… then he said that he had gotten worried about me and called my girlfriend to check in when I wouldn't answer my phone. Having not set up the lie properly, she told him she wasn't with me that night. He knew right away where I was. 

That was easily one of the worst nights of my entire life. We fought all night. He had the locks changed because someone had my keys and my I.D. and he was expecting a burglary. He told me I would need to move out. He told me he was going to call the hotel and let them know what happened so this guy's wife could be informed. At one point, just to get out of the house, I went back down to the beach to search one more time for the purse, in the hopes that someone took the money and dumped everything else. I felt like I was in a massive downward spiral. I sat on the beach and cried. Some homeless guy asked me if I was okay. I was a disaster. 

I would like to say that after that night, I realized the error of my ways and made a change. Unfortunately, this isn't true. Like an addict, I kept trying to feel better by filling my life with artificial happiness. I actually tried to have a relationship with this other guy for a while. Talk about a disaster… then I just started hopping from one bed to the next. I didn't really care who I was sleeping with. Single, married, it didn't matter. If they were into me, that's all it took. After about six months of this behavior, I knew I needed to make a drastic change in my life. At the time, I wasn't yet at a level of awareness where making a choice to be a better human being was an option. So, I did what I was second best at during that time: I bailed. 

I moved to Las Vegas and started over. I got involved with that leadership program shortly after moving here and the rest is pretty much history. Every day in Las Vegas has been an improvement over the one before. Yes, I still have my bad days, of course. But I am no longer a bad person. I have gotten to a point where I would never again get into a situation where my temporary happiness takes precedence over doing right by myself and others. Sitting at The Goat last night and remembering the "Bad Tina" was difficult. But, remembering how awful it felt to have put myself and Eric through that was actually a good thing as it also reminded me of how far I've come and how good I feel about myself now and what I have to offer others. 

I remember during that time being very preachy about how monogamy wasn't natural for human beings and that I was the kind of person that needed to be in an open relationship. I needed options to cover all the bases and fulfill the hundreds of different needs that I had on a daily basis. I talked about how I could never be married and that my way of thinking was all "new age" and junk. While some people may agree with how I felt back then, I knew that I was just trying to cover up the fact that I didn't know how to be the kind of person that attracts the ultimate partner - the one that fulfills all my needs and more. 

Insert famous Ghandi quote here: "Be the change you want to see in the world." 

It's not about taking what you need from different people in your life. It's about giving all you can to those around you. At least, that's what I realized it meant for me. And not in the physical and superficial sense. My body is my temple, not someone else's playground. It should be treated as such. 

I don't find it fun or easy to relive these dark parts of my past. But, I do like the learning that happens because of the reflection. 

So thank you, Maryann, for writing that very open and honest post and creating a space for me to share my own story. 

I am happy to say that I have found the person who does fulfill all of these needs and more. I tell this person every morning and every night how much I love them and how amazing they are. I am grateful for who this person is and the gifts they give every day. 

This person is me.

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