Our Past Is Our Future

All of us have pasts. Most of them are good [hopefully! LOL], and there are definitely parts of them that we sure aren’t proud of. For me, personally, I know there are huge chunks of my past that I wish I could just erase from my memory.

For years I was in a relationship with somebody that I never should have been dating in the first place. I got caught up in his “bad boy” image [a phase of life I think most of us gals go through, unfortunately], and inevitably got intertwined in his messy, chaotic world for longer than I would have liked. He was the polar opposite of me in every way, and we rarely got along. Our relationship consisted of constant arguments – we were angry more often than we weren’t. I was deeply unhappy, probably clinically depressed if I’m being brutally honest. I was in the darkest place I’ve ever been, and it’s because I was just a shell of myself. It’s weird to say, but looking back on it now, my memories of that time are like I was living outside of my body, just watching this crazy life happen that wasn’t even mine. The worst part of it all was that I had no idea how to get out of it. I felt completely trapped, and it was a feeling that I was not at all comfortable with. Fortunately, an opportunity arose for me to leave the relationship, and as much as I’d like to say that I’ve never looked back since then.. Well, that would be a lie.

It’s been over two years since I completely cut ties with that person, and yet that chunk of my life with him haunts me nearly every day. For years I’ve held onto so much anger about who he was in our relationship; who I was in that relationship. I’ve resented him for trying to break my spirit, for trying to control me and manipulate me, for trying to isolate me from my friends and family. He tried everything he could to turn me into who he wanted me to be instead of just accepting me for who I was. And I in turn allowed him to treat me the way that he did, and that’s what has weighed heavily on me all this time.

It’s not every day that I wake up with an anxiety about my past, and these days it only happens every once in a while. It’s a constant work-in-progress for me to find forgiveness for that person and the way he treated me, and for myself for allowing it to happen. I didn’t know it back then, but I completely had the power and the resources to get out of that relationship anytime I wanted, but I let the fear of coming clean to my family about the person I was spending my time with hold me back. I let the pride of needing to escape the relationship on my own keep me from seeking help. Pride and jealousy – humankind’s biggest enemies.

I have days where the anger just unexpectedly boils up inside me, trying to rear its ugly head. And the will to regret my past and the decisions I’ve made is always lingering. But the other night I had an epiphany, if you will. I was talking to my wedding coordinator about things suddenly just falling into place for me, as they had for her. And it got me backtracking and reliving the last few years of my life and how I got to where I am today. And as much as I hate the person that I was in that time of my life and the relationship I was in, every decision that I made, and the time that I devoted to that guy, led me to where I am today.

If you don’t follow me in Instagram, then you probably don’t know that I recently got a job working for my wedding coordinator as an assistant event planner and the lead writer for the company blog. It’s a huge deal for me – I have been trying for quite a while to get my own IG and blog off the ground as a source of income, but I don’t have enough of an “angle” to make anything of it. So it’s fallen a bit to the wayside, as my life is, generally, pretty boring LOL. Not boring, but there’s nothing worth writing home about, if you catch my drift.

This job, that seemingly just landed in my lap by the fate of some sort of career gods, really happened to come to me due to a series of events. Events that actually started because of the guy I used to date. Oddly enough, he was the one who encouraged me to leave my job at the restaurant where I was working at the time. He knew how much I hated the wacky hours and not having weekends off, so he told me to apply to some jobs on Craigslist – it couldn’t hurt, right? I remember vividly that it was a Wednesday night – I was up late updating my resume and sending it off to a handful of listings online. The next morning I received a call from one of them, an administrative position at an accounting firm. I interviewed, somehow got the job [in an industry I literally didn’t know anything about], and started immediately. And just like that, I kissed the restaurant world goodbye.

I was with the accounting firm for a couple of years. I’m a fast learner, and they noticed this immediately. They trained me in bookkeeping, and I ended up with several of my own clients that I was responsible for. One of them was an insurance broker for employee benefits, who I communicated with regularly and actually saw once a week to exchange documents for their books. As a very detail-oriented and organized person, it wasn’t long before I didn’t have enough work to do around the office. Tasks that initially took me a whole week now only took me a few hours. My boss could tell I was bored, but his client base was focused on small businesses, and he didn’t have any other clients for me to take on. As luck would have it, the insurance company suddenly had an administrative opening; since I already knew the COO via email, and, coincidentally, one of the owners knew my dad, I interviewed for the job and got the offer on the spot. I was whisked from one industry to another that I knew nothing about. Another job where I’d have to start from ground zero and learn everything there was to know.

The health insurance industry is very small. I mean, it’s BIG, but it’s small. Everybody knows each other. I’ve made a lot of friends in my office, as well as in other companies. One of them is my friend Jenny – when we met we just vibed. We have the same sense of humor, and want the same things out of life. She’s one of the strongest women I know – she refuses to fail. She defines the word perseverance. It was through Jenny that I met Mitch – the man that in just under five months I will vow my love and my life to. And through planning my wedding I hired a coordinator who just so happened to grow up with my groom-to-be, and eventually found my niche in the wedding planning industry. And it all started because of a person who, despite all of our issues and arguments, actually is the reason that I am where I am today. How’s that for some perspective?

I have been so fortunate to meet a man who loves me just as I am. Who knows that I can be feisty and unreasonable and just works with me instead of against me. It’s because of my past that I appreciate what my life is today. And despite the occasional desperate desire to block out chunks of my past, every inch of it has defined me and put me on the path to my present and my future.

And the funny thing is, that guy is where he is today because he met me.

If I was a stoner I would probably get off on a tangent right now about how our entire lives are predestined for us when we are born, but that’s a different blog post for another day.

Adulting 101: Having Successful Friends

Last week, as I was sitting in the salon chair having my hair highlighted, my stylist and I got to chatting about relationships. She mentioned to me that she was feeling depressed – not clinically or anything life threatening, just down on herself for her decisions as of late. She’d just returned from a trip to San Diego, her old stomping grounds, and was feeling like she’d taken ten steps back in life. The friends she’d visited that she’d thought she’d have in her life forever, seemed to be making no progress in life. And the relationships she was nurturing at home, here in Sacramento, didn’t feel like they were enhancing her life in any way.

Oh, how well I understood her.

Right around the time I met my fiancé, I made a huge decision to filter some people from my life. I was nearing 29 years of age, getting ready to close out the last year of life in my twenties, and doing some major reflecting on the last ten years of my life. It got me realizing that in all that time, I had hardly changed at all. I was still hanging out with the same crowd and making the same decisions that I was making when I was 20. As fun as that was when I was younger, I realized how exhausted I was from trying to maintain this lifestyle that, if I’m being totally honest, was not natural to me.

I was in a bit of a depression myself because while I had grown successful in my professional life, I was still holding on to these relationships with people who were maintaining a whole lot of nothing. They brought absolutely nothing to my life, and yet I remained intertwined with them because I had this asinine fear of missing out [FOMO]. So basically my brain was at odds with itself because I couldn’t make up my mind which direction I wanted to take in my life. It eventually boiled down to an accumulation of small things that finally sent me over the edge enough to slam the door on my old life.

I haven’t looked back or regretted that decision one single time. It opened so many doors for me. I instantly met my fiancé, I was able to focus my energy on better quality friendships, and it freed up time for me to find joy in little things again. I love decorating my house, I love painting, crafts – and I wasn’t doing any of it because I was preoccupied with people who liked to party, for lack of a better word. when I finally shut them all out of my life, I realized how many good, quality humans I already had in my life that I just wasn’t giving the proper time and attention to.

One thing I quickly learned from having friends who are actually successful and responsible: money is never an issue. Not that money matters. I honestly don’t ever mind paying for my friends or footing the bill – if it means that everybody gets to enjoy themselves, then I’m happy to do it! That said, it is SO nice to be surrounded by people who actually have the means to support themselves and who actually offer to pay for things. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out with a group of people who insist on dissecting the bill and only paying for their portion of a meal. It’s so frustrating and time consuming. If you can’t afford to go out, then don’t go out!

Another glorious thing about like-minded friends, they encourage you and lift you up. They are generally at a similar place in their life [or have been], and can relate to what you’re going through. Or vice-versa. And there’s a trust and a bond among those types of relationships that just doesn’t exist with surface-level friends. I’ve learned in the last year that those are the relationships that I’ve been desperately needing. I have so much stability from my family, but it’s important to have it from friendships and significant others, too.

I have always loved to travel, and having successful friends in my life has made it so much more fun because we can travel together! Nobody is stuck in town because they don’t have a real job – they can actually afford to take time off and explore. Even if it’s just a quick trip to Tahoe for a weekend, or Napa for the day to go wine tasting. As an adult, these are the experiences that make life fun, and missing out on them because your friends are more concerned about partying is a huge letdown.

If you’re feeling like I did, chances are it may be time to reassess your life and your relationships. And I totally know how hard it is to let people go who have been such a big part of your life and whose relationships you’ve spent countless amounts of time and energy on. But believe me, it’s worth washing your hands of those people now before you waste anything more. It seems heartless and rude, and in some instances it can be, but I can promise that you won’t miss those people at all. I believe in karma, and when you start feeding the good karma in your life, it’ll pay you right back.

Is It Something In Our Water?

At thirty years old, I’ve done my fair share of dating. I don’t have a huge plethora of relationships under my belt [long-term ones, at least], but I’ve gone on plenty of dates and had several short-term relations with guys. I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 17, and I didn’t have a serious boyfriend until I was 18 – so, my dating years have pretty much been crammed into a 12-year period of time.

It’s safe to say that the first 18 years of my life were very shy and sheltered [of my own doing – my parents constantly encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone]. While this hindered my dating and relationship experience, it did, on the flipside, allow me silently grow independently and to objectively observe how other people acted in their relationships. It gave me the opportunity to learn what I did and did not want in my own relationships.

The biggest thing I’ve noticed in my short thirty years on earth is that many women stay in relationships that they know are toxic – not only for them, but for the significant other as well. We waste years of our lives on boys [sorry, can’t refer to these individuals as “men” – they haven’t earned that title] who treat us horribly. When there’s a breakup, we take them back when they come groveling. When they abuse us, whether physically, verbally, or emotionally, we forgive them when they apologize and swear it’ll never happen again [and yet, it always does. and we know it will keep happening again and again and again].

My question is: why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we consistently stay with individuals who treat us so horribly? Who have absolutely no respect for us as women or as human beings? WHY? I know every single one of us has warning signals – there are always signs telling us to GET THE FUCK OUT, and yet none of us listen to them. And none of us get out when presented with opportunities. I mean, we literally allow these relationships to hit rock fucking bottom before the light bulb goes on and we think, Hmm, maybe this relationship SUCKS ASS.

And, going hand-in-hand with the self-degradation of staying in these relationships, is this feeling that we need somebody else in our lives to feel whole. This is a HUGE problem, especially for women who start dating so young – we become dependent on our significant other. Teenage and early twenties are crucial growing years in our lives. We’re all on this hormonal roller coaster, we’re experiencing all kinds of milestones, and instead of growing independently and learning who we are and how to deal with conflicts, speed bumps, and curve balls on our own, we end up leaning on somebody else for support through trying times. And someday, when these relationships inevitably end [because young love generally does], we come out so lost and disoriented that the only thing we know is to jump into another relationship. Instead of having our own identity, we become who we date. We define ourselves based on whose bed we happen to be sharing [okay, not the best reference, but you get the idea].

Now, this is not to say that you shouldn’t feel like you can’t lean on somebody for help and support when times get rough. Of course you should! That is absolutely what friends, family and relationships are for [among other things]. The worst thing you can do is keep things to yourself when they’re causing you unmanageable stress and anxiety. BUT, first and foremost, it’s important to know who you are throughout the entire process. Don’t lose yourself in somebody else’s identity. Know that the people in your life are there to support you and to love you from beginning to end – and the people who aren’t need to be given the boot.

Ladies, we have worked TOO DAMN HARD in these first world countries to be reverting back to the Victorian era and beyond. We fought tooth-and-nail for a voice, for the right to vote, to be able to work alongside men, to be able to fight alongside men. We’ve come so far from the days of arranged marriages due to social status, being forced to stay in bad relationships due to guaranteed social ruin from divorce, no right to vote, have a voice or have a say in our finances or really our own lives. Why in the world would we ever want to willingly go back to that life? To stay in a relationship that’s unhealthy and degrading when we have a choice not to? Do we like feeling like shit? Feeling like we aren’t good enough? Is it something in our water?

I speak from experience. Despite all my years as a shy woman, growing independently and learning from other people’s mistakes, I still ended up dating a dude with no respect for women or himself. He was controlling, manipulative, insecure and just an all-around jerk. All of these things stemmed from family issues, and yet he took them out on me. I justified my relationship with him – I would be broke if I left him. We have fun together. He’s got a boat and nice cars. He’s got that bad boy thing going on. The list goes on. Nine out of ten of my friends have been in similar situations – guys who don’t respect them and treat them horribly. They’ve all done the same thing; made excuses about their boyfriend to people around them, which ultimately meant they were just trying to convince themselves. But at the end of the day, you shouldn’t have to justify your relationship – it should just BE.

Just remember that it is NEVER TOO LATE to get out of a bad relationship. And regardless of how long you spend dating an idiot, it doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t make you any less of a woman. We all make mistakes, we all have to go through our own experiences and motions in life in order to learn lessons. Know that you are not alone out there. You are not the only or first woman to try pushing through a shit relationship. There are always other gals out there you can lean on and relate to when you’re feeling alone in the world. So don’t suffer through this sort of thing alone! Reach out to others – me if you’d like! Believe me, there are more of us out there than you think.


This Is My Rooftop

You know when you’re absolutely elated about something, and there’s that expression, “I want to shout from the rooftop!”?

Well, this is my rooftop.

On this day, 365 days ago, I went on a date with a guy. A guy that wasn’t at all my type looks-wise, which used to immediately trigger a red flag. But after consistently dating my “type” and only ever finding idiots, I decided to step outside my box a little. What could it hurt?

Turns out, it really couldn’t [and didn’t] hurt.

It was a fantastic first date. He immediately checked the first box by successfully finding [and knocking on] my apartment door. My roommate and I used to joke that a guy was a keeper if he could find our apartment, because nobody we dated ever could. He took me to Old Town Sacramento, and gave me a little historical blurb about our city while he toured me around the streets. We stopped at a bar for a drink and ended up dancing to a live band with some fun, lively elderly couples. After that, we headed to Torch Club to keep dancing, and then bounced around to a couple other bars and sampled some beers in honor of it being Sac Beer Week. We closed out our date at Kupros, where some friends of mine came to meet us [and my poor date thought that was my SOS call – it was definitely not]. The conversation was easy and natural – we never had an awkward moment or felt the need to fill a pause. I didn’t expect to be swept off my feet so quickly, and I guess neither did he. But by the next day, we couldn’t wait to see each other again and had already made plans to get together that evening.

To say that this person has changed my life is an understatement. I had believed for so long that there were no longer decent men out there – in fact, I had pretty much come to terms with the fact that I would probably be 35 and heading to a sperm bank and doing the single mom thing [and I was actually okay with that]. Everyone tells you that you’ll meet somebody when you least expect it, and I can definitely attest to the fact that that couldn’t be more true.

One of the biggest issues I discovered [and struggled with] over the years of my dating journey was that so many guys carried baggage and assumed that all women were going to treat them the same in a relationship. If my ex cheated on me, then it will be just as easy for you.

True, but not a fair judgment to make when you’ve only just met a person. I pushed a lot of men away because of this – because they couldn’t give a new relationship a fair shot. It was so refreshing when I met my boyfriend, who was open about his fears, but wasn’t afraid to push through them in the hope of possibly building a relationship with me. And, to be honest, we’ve definitely had our ups and downs in this department – turns out I also have insecurities and baggage from past relationships. But I am a lucky gal to have found a guy who is willing to work through the problems together, as a TEAM.

When my boyfriend and I first started dating, I immediately loved our easy compatibility. Again, we’ve had our ups and downs, but we’ve never struggled to get along. We’ve never had a childish argument – we’ve never yelled or screamed or pushed each other to our limits. We are comfortable sitting together in companionable silence. We’re okay with sitting in separate rooms and doing our own things. And I love that we enjoy doing fun things together. We both like to travel – we’ve gone to Glenbrook, San Francisco and Santa Cruz together, and we’ve got several more trips planned this year. We both love beer and wine, and often times will go grab a drink together after work, or meet friends downtown to bar hop. After dating a guy who didn’t really socialize or drink, I knew that was something that I would require in a future boyfriend.

Of all of the things that I love about my relationship and my boyfriend, I think the number one thing that I love most is that he is the most personable, loving, caring and compassionate human I have ever met. He actually cares about my life and the things that I do every single day. He genuinely wants to hear every single detail. He fits right in with my family, converses easily with my friends, and meshes so will into my life. I couldn’t have picked him better if I had built the man myself.

This is definitely a bit of a bragging post, because I am super proud and happy to be with the man I’m with. But, in addition to that, it’s a post to reiterate the fact that there are good people out there in the world. There are men and women out there who actually do want a long-term relationship – who do want to get married and have babies and commit their life to somebody else. And as much as I am not proud of my previous relationships, I wouldn’t change any of the experiences that I’ve had, because they all prepared me for this one relationship. They gave me the ability to appreciate the fact that I have found an incredible human being, and I have not and will not take him for granted.

Happy One Year Anniversary to my other half; to the guy who makes my heart full and who completes my life. Every day, but today especially, I am so very grateful for you.

Relationship Timeline: What is “Socially Acceptable?”

Despite the fact that I spent about a year or so doing the online dating thing [, dating apps, etc.], I always envisioned myself meeting somebody in a more organic way – like in the grocery store or in a bar or something along those lines. And even though online dating is more the norm these days, I was still never able to fully let my guard down to anybody that I’d met online.

I actually ended up meeting my boyfriend at a restaurant [his restaurant (I’d link the website, but it’s undergoing construction and not quite up and running yet)], through a mutual friend. It was natural, not online, and through a trusted mutual friend of both of ours. It was perfect, and exactly the way both of us had hoped meeting someone would go.

After our first date, neither of us could wait more than 24 hours before seeing each other again, and this progressed as the months went on. I had rented my own apartment a couple of weeks after we went out, but it essentially became a [very expensive] storage unit for all my crap, as I probably spent a total of 30 days there in the five months I had the spot.

Every relationship develops differently. I have friends who sleep with a guy on the first night, and a relationship stems from it [highly unusual and generally doesn’t last]. I have a girl friend who moves in with a boyfriend the minute they start dating [literally, you guys – I’m talking within the first week they are living together. and no, these relationships don’t last long, either]. I have another friend who makes a guy wait 90 days before she will be intimate with him [mad props, GF, maaaaad props]. And I will admit, I have judged all of these women because I personally would never make those choices in my own relationships.

But who am I to judge? Is there really a rulebook on how to have a relationship? And a good relationship, at that?

NO, there isn’t. Because if there were, I would own it. We all would.

The reason I bring this up is because I moved in with my boyfriend after we’d been dating for six months. I’m talking officially moved – as in, terminated my lease at my apartment and was no longer living out of four overnight bags and a single drawer in my boyfriend’s dresser. We had both wanted it to be sooner [if I remember correctly, I believe we started discussing it around the three month mark], but I held it off because I was worried about what my family would think. Which, in retrospect, shouldn’t have mattered – they knew [and know] how happy I am with this guy. But another part of me was like, “how much do you really know somebody after only a few months?”

My first boyfriend and I were together for about a year-and-a-half. So, not that long, but at the time it seemed like a huge milestone. We were very compatible from the get-go. He was three years older than me, so of course I was feeling pretty damn good that I’d landed an older guy for my first real relationship. But around the one year point, he did a 180 on me out of nowhere. He started getting really insecure and treating me like crap. This could have been because it was around that time that I started to come into my own – I had started shedding the layer of shy younger girl – and he no longer had a doe-eyed girl under his control. He tried to manipulate me, he tried many different ways to break me down in order to gain back control, but as I started to see his true colors I decided I just didn’t want to deal with it anymore, and I let him go.

I personally knew this person for A YEAR, and I thought I really knew him, before he showed me his true colors. It’s scary, really, that you can think you know somebody so well, and yet not know them at all.

I semi-recently had a friendship end – a friendship with a gal I thought was my soulmate and BFFL. We talked on the phone every day, texted constantly – at the beginning of our friendship, she was unemployed, and would come visit me at the coffee shop I worked at every single day for almost my entire eight hour shift. We were as close as any friends could be. So you can imagine the shock and hurt I felt when out of nowhere she stopped reciprocating the friendship. I knew this girl for five years – FIVE! And in every inch of my mind, I knew her. And, yet, at the end of it all, I didn’t know her – not at all.

This was my hesitation when deciding whether or not I should move in with my boyfriend after only six months. And I am not the type of person to carry baggage from one relationship to the next. At least, I try really hard not to. I know that no two people and relationships are the same.

In the end, my parents were totally okay with my decision to move in with my guy after only being together for six months. They were happy that I was happy – and they could see how comfortable and compatible he and I were.

I still pose this question to all of you, though: is there an appropriate dating timeline? Do you think that people should wait a certain amount of time before they sleep together? Move in together? Get a dog together? Have a baby together? Are there time gaps that society deems necessary before taking the next step in your relationship? I want to hear your thoughts!