“I know all about baggage, sweetheart. I have enough of it to fill up a 747 and then some.”
Too much of a good thing can be dangerous.
It can drive you to an edge that is uncomfortable.
Are you someone who lives on the edge? Let’s face it, we all need that adrenaline rush from time to time.
That feeling of excitement you get when you’re doing something you’re passionate about.
It’s a great feeling to have this constant buzz in your veins. To feel your heart pumping fast and to be happy about being so…well, “on-edge”. For some, it is a way of life. To not have time to be bored. To not even have time to consider the fact that 24 hours in a day are not enough.
For others, it is just too much going on. For those who are used to being constantly engaged with stuff to do, with emotions, and with never-ending obligations and passions, living “on-edge” is routine. The danger comes when you suddenly find yourself forced to step back and take a deep breath.
I met, dated and became engaged to Tyler. He lived on the edge every day.
He was rich. He had a nice sleek blue convertible sports car, wore a gold Rolex, ate dinners at restaurants every single day and was the owner / along with his father of a couple of hair salons in California, the most profitable one in Beverly Hills. He always wore designer clothing.
Dating a rich guy is different: Our first date was very different for me. Tyler took me to five-star restaurants and I ate what I had never eaten before. Each meal came in bits and pieces, rather like a five-course dinner. The waiters were sharply dressed in uniform. We had champagne and wine. Dating Tyler meant no worries about finances. It also meant I feel access to cocaine. Tyler didn’t partake much, however, his father did. I always had a supply. The there were days I’d be chatting with Tyler, and I would say my rent just got increased. He would ask me how much rent I was paying. Then he would pay my rent for the next one or two months. Dating Tyler also meant he was the boss and he would call me names when I messed up…he wouldn’t mince his words..he actually called me stupid and dumb in front of my friends. Nothing that I had not experienced at home. This time I had benefits so I allowed myself to be okay with the disrespect. I let him push me to the edge, would snort cocaine, and just keep going. Thankfully, he was not a violent person when he lost his temper.
Dating Tyler meant being kept on my toes. In many ways I had to be perfect. I was constantly being rated on some invisible scale. He kept me on the edge of always questioning myself – am I a valuable person and how is being a valuable person being measured?
He put a premium on education and paid for my first year of college.
Tyler said “his lady” needed to be highly educated and it was his plan for me to have a college education and a professional career.
When I messed up, he always would say, “I can’t believe you did that, for an intelligent young woman you’re behaving rather dumb.”
I needed to be well read in current affairs, so Sunday’s were spent reading lots of newspapers. I was always being pushed to the edge of needing to do more and know more.
Dating Tyler also meant that all my interests were no longer important. My friends were measured to see if they were good enough. I was constantly judged.
Spending time in San Francisco was no longer allowed unless Tyler made the plans.
He had an agenda. I had to be available when he was available, and not the other way around. I was subject to a rigid calendar. When he called and said we were going to dinner in two hours, I needed to be ready. I had to be available. He took me to meet his parents one day with an hours notice. I could never ask Tyler to be available for me.
He arranged a dinner with my father a week after I met his parents. Just the two of them in San Francisco.
He let my father know he was going to move me into his house in Los Gatos, we would be engaged, and we were going to get married. My father absolutely adored Tyler.
Tyler was Italian and he had a lot of money.
Nothing else mattered to my father.
Shortly after that dinner with Al, Tyler convinced me that we were meant to be; convinced me to move in quickly with him. He started planning for our future. I quit my job at his request and my days were filled with what Tyler wanted me to do. I felt like I was living on the edge of no return. Inside our bedroom walk in closet I had a shelf with a small beautifully painted ceramic container of cocaine. On a white silk cloth laid a silver nose spoon. I could engage at anytime, and the container was always full.
I was drawn to his gregarious warmth, dapper style, self-possessed confidence, natural air of authority and open candour.
Tyler told me he was drawn to my intelligence, style, class, sass, demeanor, idealism and everlasting faith in humanity. He saw in me the kind of spirituality that material wealth is opposed to.
Tyler would tell me that I was internally rich in ways he was hungry for. When we would have those in-depth soulful conversations I felt drawn closer to him, and the edge of no return seemed to fade away. Then he would pull back, and I would pull back. That spiritual connection never quite manifested.
As similar as we were in our zest for living and eternal optimism, we simply were opposites who attracted. While he was fundamentally kind and sweet towards people he cared about (all house staff and service staff included), he was also arrogant, entitled, and thought little about splurging as he saw fit (we ate expensive—to me, it was—club and hotel dinners almost every night, simply because he wouldn’t accept second best).
He was a hard worker and would get up at 6 am and get ready for the work day, and would come home around 9 – 10 PM. I was not to ask about his schedule.
Tyler would boast about people he knew in Beverly Hills and places he had traveled.
Basically, his identity and self-worth revolved around high places and people plus the quality of his possessions. He always wanted to be out and about and be seen. He liked me being seen, especially. He took pride in being with someone like me, like I was some kind of acquisition. To him, his ideas were the best, and I was his model for showcase and implementation. He threw out all my clothes and bought me everything I was to wear, from underwear on out, and jewelry, including a beautiful large engagement ring.
He had someone come to the house and teach me how to wear makeup and how to style my hair. Once, he spent hours having a photographer take nude photographs of me, and then wanted to sell them to someone in Capitola who offered to buy them for a few thousand dollars for his own personal gallery. I was aghast.
“Nobody can tell that it’s you!” He had argued heatedly. “The shadows block your face!”
My beautiful brother George quit high school and left home. He was struggling and kept getting pulled over for drinking, lost his license (although he kept driving), and spent some time in jail. I visited him and was worried about him. Tyler brought him in to live with us, and bought him a used car after he got his license back. I worked to get him job interviews, and he just never showed up.
After about three months George just up and left one day. He left us a note saying he needed to find his own way, would repay us for the car (never happened), and would be in touch. I did not hear or see George again for about 8 years. Both Al and Dotti said they did not know where he was. I found out years later that Dotti knew, and was meeting George in bars. They drank together and she gave him money. She and George were drinking buddies and she kept him living on her edge of life.
It was important to Tyler how his friends and family saw us. He boosted how mature and sophisticated I was for someone just age 20 (He was in his early 30s.) We lived together for a year. On my 21st birthday he took me and four of my friends to San Francisco for a private dinner and Tony Bennett performed. The next day he started planning the wedding. Let’s say that when the novelty of living the high life wore off, there was little in the way of our incompatibility. Not to mention, he assumed that money would resolve whatever that was inconvenient. Tyler bought me a car for my birthday. He didn’t like the idea of me driving, however, as it gave me too much freedom. He was always more open to paying for my cab fare, no matter how expensive the ride was. It became weird for me.
I realized I could not take it anymore. I felt as if I was standing on the edge of a ledge. Again, I went out and got a job, an apartment, bought my own car, and also went out and bought myself some clothes I wanted to wear and had them at the apartment.
I sat at home waiting for him to arrive.
The engagement ring sitting on the counter.
This was 3 weeks before the wedding. The invitations were out, the announcement was in the paper, and presents had started arriving. I realized that I would never be happy with him. I was not even allowed to buy my own wedding dress. It was purchased for me and was hanging in a closet at his parents house. I was crying as I told him I was breaking up with him and leaving.
He called my father. My father was not too busy to drop everything and talk to me on the phone, doing his best to convince me this was the biggest mistake of my life. I took nothing with me when I left. Okay, not true. I took the ceramic container of cocaine and the silver spoon. On the day of the wedding Tyler showed up at my apartment, in his tux, limo in parking lot, my wedding dress in his hands. He was absolutely convinced I had learned my lesson and would drop everything and marry him. I didn’t. We ran into each other about four years later and I went to his house for dinner and we talked. He was alone and felt lost in life. I stayed the night just hugging him as he cried and then left in the early morning hours after he finally went to sleep.
I found him a few years ago through research. He has spent a lifetime with various illnesses, married four or five times, never had children, and is seemingly unhappy in his life. I have no regrets for my part in his life.
When you’re used to paying your own way, sharing your life with a man in the 1 percent can be a challenge.
I didn’t expect Tyler to pay my way, however, he had a lifestyle I simply could not afford to split 50/50. And this imbalance stirred in me a surprising internal conflict.
There was no semblance of financial equality for us.
And while some people are thrilled by the prospect a $500 meal several times a week, I just couldn’t seem to relax into it at that time in my life.
Some of my friends simply wouldn’t go out with a guy who wasn’t prepared to fund every dime of every date, however, I was a ferociously independent young woman.
I experienced a wave of anxiety every time a restaurant check came. Sometimes I was so uneasy that I hid in the bathroom. There was an imbalance that inflamed my sense of myself as a self-sustaining young woman. There was just no way around that.
Tyler was fine with the financial arrangement, however, I was often conflicted. I take great pride in taking care of myself. I always have.
And money is not the sole basis of a happy marriage.
It is dangerous to live a life in constant agitation.
It is equally hazardous to live one which you don’t enjoy to the fullest. The key is to find the right balance between the two.
To know when to run and when to walk, when to dance and when to sit, when to stress out and when to relax. I am much happier today, even though I am single.
If you want to be truly understood, you need to say everything three times, in three different ways. Once for each ear … and once for the heart.
~ Paula Underwood Spencer
What was your best purchase for under $100?