Living, Laughing & Loving… while in debt.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Why, hello there.

It can’t possibly be swept under the rug that I took a noticeable hiatus from this blog. I had been able to maintain posting multiple times a week despite working a full time job and enjoying a new city, so it was disheartening to watch my blog fall apart simultaneously with my life. I mean that lightly, by the way. I’m a realist by nature. I’ve always viewed life as a progression through multiple chapters of self-evloution. Meaning- I’ve always embraced change and chose to accept it rather than fight it. For example, high school is a change. Although I lived in the same town for the entirety of my grade-schooling, I went through multiple groups of friends. I’ve kept a solid few throughout the times, but who I chose to hang out with on a regular basis often changed due to multiple shifts in interest over the years. When I was younger I was pretty tom-boyish and I hung out with girls who shared my interests of sports, playing outside and those hideous adidas sandals. As I transitioned into high school, my interests shifted, and in effect my group of friend’s shifted. It’s not something I analyzed at the time, but in retrospect, I believe it was healthy. Rather than conforming to fit a group of friends, I always embraced changed and made new friends along the way.

Today, I almost see high school and college years as a period of filtering through friends to find the right ones that you want to surround yourself with. You laugh… you cry… you get burned but, inevitably- you learn who your true friends are.

It was difficult when I first moved to New Orleans, because I was leaving these people that I had deep-rooted, amazing friendships with in New Jersey. And the idea of starting over was intimidating. However, these friendships continued to flourish despite the distance, and during the last few months in New Orleans- these friendships from thousands of miles away were what got me through bracing the change.

So, clearly… I am no longer in New Orleans.

I started this post about change because we can’t ignore that we are an evolving species. It’s never beneficial to build your life around something and not account for, or allow, growth or change. “The best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry.” I don’t say this insinuating that we all be gypsies and, in effect, make no plans. I am still very much a planner. In previous posts you will see that I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to move to a new city. I calculated my risk, created a savings and always stayed mindful of the choices I was making. You can only throw so much caution to the wind before it is just considered being irresponsible. I have an even bigger responsibility of a hefty loan payment every month to add to the acquired bills of moving out on your own, so of course, planning is imperative.

However, one of the things you can’t plan is shifts in relationships. It was easy to change groups of friends as you also changed growing up; what’s not so easy is making changes after you’ve integrated a lot of your life with a person. It can actually be one of the scariest, heart-breaking times of your life- especially when you are thousands of miles from home.

If you know anything about me personally, you know that I was in a pretty public relationship with a guy that I met while filming a television show back in 2010. Before filming the show, I had been single for about a year. My last relationship was a two-year relationship with a guy I met in college. We’ll call him Doug. The relationship with Doug was very normal. I was in a sorority, and he was in a fraternity. We had a lot of shared friends and ended up at a lot of Greek events together. Although I cared about Doug a lot, I could never decide if the relationship was just convenient. Doug was handsome, he was smart, he had a great family and was a good person… but the relationship just lacked that “x” factor… it lacked passion.

Upon meeting Dustin on “The Real World,” I’ll just use his name since it’s public knowledge anyway, I felt all of that passion that my last relationship was lacking. The thing is, by starting a fiery relationship that isn’t exactly built on friendship, understanding or trust, you risk it fizzling fast. This was a risk I always considered, but I was young and wasn’t exactly planning on meeting “Mr. Right” on some MTV show, so I didn’t really care. Obviously, there was still a lot about Dustin’s life that I didn’t know and upon finding out bits and pieces, I decided it was probably better to just end things.

However, I got home and I missed him. Dustin was fun, and exciting and passionate. In retrospect, he was everything my last relationship wasn’t. We ended up having to see each other a good amount due to subsequent appearances and events, and I was able to actually get to know another side of him. At the time, I lived in New Jersey and he lived in Louisiana so we spent a lot of time texting and talking on the phone. I really started to develop a solid friendship with him, and a deeper understanding of his life. A lot of aspects of his life break my heart to this day. I find it hard to believe that any single person I know would have made it through some of the things Dustin has endured in life, and also been able to remain as positive and free-spirited as he is today.

I truly cared for this person, so much so that we made the move to New Orleans together a little less than a year ago. We signed a year lease, and I scored a full time job. However, a lot changed in that first six months. I realized that I was over our previous lifestyle, and that I enjoyed working full time and having responsibility. Dustin wasn’t adjusting as easily to the idea of settling down. Now, when I say settling down, I in no way mean considering marriage or a family. I was not even close to being ready for anything like that, but just settling down in general. Accepting responsibility. Setting life goals. Doing these TV shows and subsequent challenges can be both a blessing and a curse. If you know who you are and what you want in life, they can serve as valuable stepping stones or a means of financial security if the money is utilized properly. However, what often happens is after these quick stints of fame, cast members are flooded with fun and exciting paid opportunities that are difficult to bounce back from. It can be difficult to work a 40 hour week when, just a year ago, you made what you make in a month showing up to a two hour club appearance.

Anyway, to say Dustin and I were going down different paths in life would be an understatement. Worse than that, we resented each other because of it. I won’t get into specifics, but it was no longer a healthy, productive relationship. The idea that we were moving in two different directions was almost easier to grasp than the concept that I now had an extremely crucial and scary decision to make. We still had four months left on our lease, and I had a respectable full-time job. I hated the thought of giving up everything that I worked so hard to achieve. However, my whole support system was in New Jersey and I knew staying in Louisiana wouldn’t be good for me.

I finally made the terrifying decision to literally change my entire life. I ended my relationship, left my job and moved back to New Jersey all within a week. Unless you’re put in a position like that in life, it’s impossible to understand the magnitude of it. You feel confused, displaced, relieved, scared, alone and bombarded, all at the same time. Adding to that the fact that it was a public relationship that garnished a lot of mixed attention was completely overwhelming.

To say these past two months in New Jersey have been difficult would be a understatement. However, I can now say two months in, that it was for the best and that I’ve never been happier. Like I said in the beginning of this post, being a realist at heart, I embrace change. However, being composed of human flesh with a beating heart- change isn’t always easy. There were a lot of extremely tough moments, but there were also a lot of beautiful moments that came out of making the change. I was able to spend time with family, and get pedicures with my mother. I was able to go on a “girls vacation” to South Carolina, spend a weekend in Washington DC with my best childhood friend and spend a lot of days on sunny, New Jersey beaches. I was able to revisit playing guitar and jewelry making, and I was able to meet some great, new friends.

I’ve been struggling to write this post for a while, but finally felt like it was a good time. I wanted to be able to be as honest as possible, so that those experiences big changes in life could relate and see that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel. However, you’ll never see that light if you’re not brave enough to make the changes to begin with.


7 comments on “The Light at the End of the Tunnel

  1. Nathan P
    July 22, 2013

    I love this post. Thank you for being so open and telling us everything we want to know about what happened but not a smidge more than we needed to know. I’ve followed the public side of your journey (RW Vegas till now) and i know a lot of women and probably men that don’t have the courage to do what you did (ending it and moving home even though it was so scary). To grab life by the balls like you did and take control instead of letting your life control you, leaving you in less than ideal situations, is praiseworthy.

    Why I enjoy following your twitter/reading this blog is because you are as you mentioned, a realist, logical, smart and best of all, you apply those qualities to your life with action. This post could have easily been “so things aren’t going great with Dustin but I’m sticking it out because i love him, i hope something changes because I’m unhappy” if you didn’t have the courage, strength, guts and smarts to make the decisions you made.

    Obviously you know WAY more than me but if i was to bet, id bet you and Dustin wont end up together permanently, the qualities you dislike in him seem so strongly apart of who he is because of said heartbreaking past you mentioned. Compared to say a regular guy with a normal upbringing who’s just enjoying partying too much, but eventually he matures and settles down a few years down the road.
    BUT, i bet you will look back on the adventure of love you took on the RW up to now, moving to Louisiana for a relationship and love (HUGE props on that by the way, talk about an amazing GF/woman) and you will smile and say you wouldn’t change a thing.

    That even ending up with a different guy who you love even more, and see a future of marriage/kids with, you will look back on the shows and long distance and moving to him and all that as growth inducing, and lesson learning. They are molding experiences that helped shape you into the woman you are today. All the smart things you said in the blog post and your ability to look back and in a very realistic, logical, smart way analyze your past and learn from it to shape your future decisions is proof of that. That ability by the way is a quality that is severely lacking in people today and its why I’m such a big fan of yours.

    So many people look back and only remember what THEY FEEL…they don’t think about the other persons perspective, the big picture, they don’t remember the facts, they just remember emotions. Which results in them being the victim in their mind, which leads to zero growth and zero lessons learned from their experiences.

    I’m so happy you are happy, please keep us apprised of new/awesome things happening in your life (that you want to share). I will say the only thing I hate about you now being single is when you were with D it was like “shes perfect, but its so awesome they are still together!”…now its like “wait…shes single? :( but i don’t live in NJ!” lol. I’ve never been more jealous of guys who live in NJ in my life.

  2. Alyssa Nyberg
    July 23, 2013

    Such an amazing post! You are such a great writer and really put change into a different light for me. Thanks for sharing, where can I check out more of your jewlery? Is it on etsy again?

  3. Hygir
    July 23, 2013

    Nothing but the best for you heather, I’m glad you keep with the posts, I really liked the way you carry all your issues, and also I think you are right about some people on this shows, specially the challenges, I’m glad you already have your goals.
    Again nothing but the best and I’m looking forward to your next post.

  4. CJ
    July 23, 2013

    Wow, brave post. Despite your trepidation in writing it, thankyou for taking the time to give us an update. I came away from reading this a bit sad, but it seems from your words toward the end that you are in a better place emotionally. Anytime u decide to end something the “unknown” can be very scary, but u cant cross the ocean unless ur not afraid to lose sight of the shore. I commend u for following your heart and listening to your deepest feelings….they never lie. Good luck with your new start look forward to any future posts.

  5. jasminegarciaa
    July 26, 2013

    Excellent blog post! Changes can be difficult and you’ve handled your changes maturely while in the public eye. I’m happy to hear you have a strong support system and have made the difficult decision to move back home. Ending a relationship, leaving a job and moving (all while in the public eye) all at once, wow. You are one strong woman! I wish you the best! I’m happy you’re blogging again. I loved you on the RW Las Vegas and I’m watching Couples Therapy. You are one of my favorites!

  6. heatherakemi
    August 8, 2013

    Such a great, honest and positive post! I’m sorry to hear about your break-up with Dustin, but at the same time, its inspiring to see you being so independent throughout this whole thing — the good & the bad. One thing is clear–you have a killer work ethic and value the people in your life. Thanks for being such a great role model. I’m JUST out of college (1 year) and this blog has helped me a lot.

    You’re amazing!
    One Heather to another :)

  7. Kels
    August 14, 2013

    I have to admit, a part of me was disconsolate and a little bitter when I noticed all (but two) of your YouTube videos were taken down. I had a vague suspicion that the relationship wasn’t going as strong as I had hoped for some months. To me, you guys are known as “Heather and Dustin”. I decided to search Twitter and Instagram for any hint of a breakup…and then I stumbled across your blog and hoped to read a blog post along the lines of “Silly break up, maybe one day we’ll try again”. After reading your blog, I understand. I have always viewed you as respectful, kind, smart, mostly practical. You hadn’t wrote three paragraphs about how Dustin is the most awful, rude human-being (like most girls fresh out of a long-term relationship would), but choose a more PRACTICAL and RESPECTFUL approach that I admire you for.

    Some relationships don’t work out, simple. Neither party is really at blame in such cases, you simply grew apart. I can tell you still care about him as a person and still respect Dustin, and for that I commend you. It takes most people several months, even years!, to come to this conclusion. And for that, I respect you even more.

    I’m still sad that my image of “Heather and Dustin” has been watered down and cut, I have remember it’s but an image. TV and YouTube Dustin and Heather aren’t the real Dustin and Heather, I’m not watching their every-day life, just a very small portion of their time. In reality, this is another relationship that shouldn’t be. (assuming so from what I read, that is) With that in mind, I’m not relieved. Relieved because another relationship that is making both (or one side) unhappy has ended I firmly believe that everyone should be happy, and has the opportunity to, whether or not the opportunity is taken depends solely on the person. You have realized your unhappiness and took a step forward despite good memories.

    I wish you all the luck in the world, Heather. I’m confident you’ll make the right decisions, ones that’ll benefit you.

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This entry was posted on July 22, 2013 by in Post-College Rants, Uncategorized.

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