Apples & Anxiety

10 comments | September 19th, 2011

(story submitted by Melanie Reno, a Chestist)

I thought I had come so far. I thought I had resolved so much. But, moving in with my boyfriend showed me there was still room for improvement. I was still a people pleaser.


When we first started dating, my boyfriend revealed something that could be considered a deal breaker for most Americans; he doesn’t watch television. He doesn’t even own a set. He just doesn’t find much value in it, well besides “The Daily Show.”


Being an untreated people pleaser at the time, I naturally agreed with everything he said and pretended TV didn’t mean that much to me either; that I could take it or leave it.


I could only keep up the charade for so long though! He’d come over and I’d feel tortured, not turning on the TV. My heart would be heavy, knowing I was missing the finale of “Project Runway” or the premiere of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” Every morning I thanked god for the invention of the DVR.


However, there are certain shows that just have to be watched live! One Monday night, which of course is when “The Bachelor” airs; I was forced to come clean. My boyfriend wanted to get together. I felt the walls closing in on me, so in a moment of panic I hysterically confessed, “Look, I have seen all 14 seasons of “The Bachelor,” plus 4 of “The Bachelorette.” I’m currently recording at least 10 programs and I keep the TV blaring 24/7.He looked at me, speechless. He took a deep breath and in a we-can-get-through-this-together-type-of- way said, “It’s okay, there’s no reason to feel bad. You can always be honest with me.”


It took me a while to realize he meant what he was saying. He didn’t judge me for watching TV; well except for “The Real Housewives,” that’s where he drew the line. After talking it over with other couples though, I started to see that it actually didn’t matter if he approved or not. We could still have a relationship. Apparently, we were going to have our differences. One friend pointed out that if shows like, “Celebrity Rehab” was our biggest battle, then we were doing okay. She said that I didn’t have to pretend to be anyone but me.


That was going to be tough though! I was used to readjusting my likes and dislikes for every new relationship. I was just starting to grasp this crazy new concept of being honest with another person, but then we moved in together and my people pleasing was really put to the test!

During our inaugural trip to the farmer’s market as a live-in couple, I quickly went bananas. For over two years we’d been partaking in these festive outdoor markets, but always as individuals. Now as a unit, I found decision-making about produce together completely overwhelming.I started sweating and getting very snappy with my boyfriend. I needed some space to think. That’s when I decided to let myself get separated. It’s easy to get lost at a farmer’s market in L.A. They can get very crowded. It could take as little as turning to sample the season’s tastiest tangelos and the next thing you know, you’re reuniting by cell phone.

I’m not sure how people got along at these outdoor markets back in the day; even with unlimited text messaging and Google Maps I still panic when I become adrift. One time I followed a guy, who I thought was my boyfriend, through several stands whispering to him about finding fennel and figs. He seemed confused, but also appreciative for my recommendations.


This time I wandered off on purpose though. I needed breathing room to gain inner perspective. Since my tendency is to say what I think others want to hear, I needed to make sure I was really being honest with myself. I didn’t want to spend the rest of our lives together, having to pretend to like beets.I took a moment to be still, like I learned in meditation and earnestly asked, What does Melanie want? What do I really want?  It’s a simple question to most people, but a brainteaser to the rest of us.


After salvaging my sense-of-self, I ventured back to find my boyfriend and spotted him (the real him), about to make a HUGE mistake. He was buying a head of cauliflower, but I had already bought one!


Before I could give myself the gift of inner reflection though, my arms shot up over my head and began to flail frantically, “No, don’t!” I then proceeded to physically intercept the transaction, scaring the shitake out of farmer John. My boyfriend looked embarrassed and turned an even brighter shade of red when I attempted to recover by giving a way too detailed explanation, “Sorry, we just moved in together and we’re still figuring out this whole grocery thing.”  Our hip young vendor looked like he couldn’t care less. And, why we couldn’t just have two bunches of the ivory floret remains a mystery.


Sadly, this has not been my only inauthentic Farmer’s Market meltdown. Things also became distorted when I lied to our bread guy in an attempt to spare his feelings. For months, we got our freshly baked bread from a particular vendor. And, every time we picked up a loaf, I’d rave and rave about how amazing it was. But then the unforeseeable happened, I found bread I liked better.


Now I had a big problem on my hands since we passed by our old vendor on the way in and out of the market. I looked for alternative exits, but there were none. I tried to hide as we passed his stall, but my boyfriend didn’t play along. He went right over to him and had the nerve to say hello. What was he thinking!?


As I suspected, turning down our usual vegetable sourdough loaf was one of the hardest moments of my life. I felt so awkward that I launched into this big story about how we had given up carbohydrates, as I hid the other loaf. My boyfriend glared at me and even harder when I patted his belly to illustrate my point.

As we exited the market, my boyfriend asked, “Did you really just lie to the bread guy?” I hadn’t seen it as a lie. I felt that I was just protecting him from the cold, harsh world that existed just outside his good old-fashioned oligopoly Farmer’s Market.


But, now I felt guilty for not allowing him to experience the full spectrum of his human emotions. I wanted to apologize for ‘lying’ and explain, “Look, it’s not you, it’s me. I’m just taking my bread in a new direction.” I never did have the guts to come clean, but I haven’t lied to any other vendor either. It's now every vendor for himself.Oh, it was suggested that I add that our bread guy wasn’t even the owner.


With that said, I was starting to really see how I was making my life a little more complicated than it needed to be. In an attempt to save people from the truth, I had to balance a bunch of lies. It was getting exhausting.  I finally gave in to the fact that my boyfriend and I were going to have opposing views on produce and maybe even other things too. I have also accepted that I will most likely switch vendors again – breaking more hearts.


One thing I was still having trouble accepting though was that my boyfriend loved me regardless of my TV viewing choices. And, his snarky comments about my shows weren’t helping.  I started to feel guilty when I’d sit down with my bowl of popcorn to watch a bunch of train wreck reality shows. I began to wonder what I was missing out on in my own life, while immersed in everyone else’s? I also wondered what the negative impact of a show like “Rock of Love: 2” was on society, or at least rocker groupies? I wondered what the world would be like without all of these wonderful opportunities for exploitation? Was I part of the problem?


I seemed to have grown a conscience. It was horrible!  But, then one day I discovered that my model citizen boyfriend had a secret. He had conveniently understated his undying love for video games. After living together for a few months, the truth could not be denied.He’d stay up way past bedtime playing “Call of Duty;” then be grouchy the next day. He’d invite his buddy Dan for a session and I’d overhear disturbing conversations about hand grenades and other explosives.


Then, one night as I made my way up the walk home, I heard the all too familiar sound of guns shots coming from our living room. My boyfriend must have heard the also recognizable sound of the front gate opening, because next thing I know, I saw his silhouette jump up and turn off the TV. He said he only did that, because he wanted to spend 'quality time' with me. But, I can’t help but think that maybe he felt a little embarrassed about his entertainment choice too.
Here I was reevaluating my entire existence because I enjoyed watching a little TV – well ok a lot of TV – while my highly educated boyfriend, who’s a registered Green Party member and opposes war of any kind, was spending a significant chunk of his life in mortal combat!


My boyfriend and I have lived together for just over a year now. My boyfriend recently became my fiancé. I believe a big part of what got us here is that above all, I’ve learned to accept myself; secondly we try our best to accept each other exactly as we are.


I stopped trying to understand why my fiancé gets such a kick out of killing people and blowing shit# up. And, he's given up trying to figure out why someone in a happy, committed relationship would set a side a two-hour-block on Mondays, to watch needy twenty-year-olds fight for the love of one guy, who they barely even know and likely won’t stay with even if they do ‘win.’ {end story.}


If you want our opinion, Melanie's offering some really good relationship advice.  What's gotten you and yours through your relationship?  What keeps it happy, productive, and moving forward?  Go on and get your Dear Abby on here. 


(read more Melanie at MelanieReno.com)


  • Abby R.

    Posted on September 19, 2011

    3 words, compromise, understanding, adaptation.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on September 19, 2011

    If you don’t please yourself in a relationship, no one else will!

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  • Auntie P

    Posted on September 19, 2011

    Moving in with my b/f was one of the hardest things I have done, and it’s been almost 7 months. We are still learning how to get along and not get along. Sometimes I think I should join a monastery or a nunery or wherever I don’t have to live with a man.

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    • Melanie Reno

      Posted on September 19, 2011

      hang in there!! It was so hard for me too…in addition to being a people pleaser, I also really like my alone time… but I turned the corner on learning how to take care of myself within the relationship & things are so good. it is worth walking through the uncomfortable times. 😉 btw, we’re getting married in 60 days!! crazy…

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  • Peggy

    Posted on September 19, 2011

    EVERYONE has a dark little secret. No one is perfect. Get it out there and be proud of who you are!!!

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  • Audrey F.

    Posted on September 20, 2011

    If Bravo is the highest rating you get it 100% from me Mel, but I also totally get it. And I mean totally. I know all about never giving myself the opportunity to consider, “What do I want” and having not a clue if I do suddenly give myself such an opportunity.
    I had not heard nor read this piece before. It’s one of your best and I’m not saying that just to please you. 😉

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