Well, it's a bittersweet ending. That's really the only way to describe where I am. I know that everyone wants to hear from the heart, so that is exactly what I'm going to do in this final blog. . .speak from my heart. Please hang in there with me through this blog, since I'm wrapping both reunions into one. I hope I do not get too emotional, as I am using this blog for closure for myself as well.
First of all, I want to discuss my husband. I have watched him be berated, ridiculed, and mocked for three years. I have two words for these ladies: BUZZ OFF. My marriage does not rely on what any of these women have to say about Jim Bellino. He is my husband, my best friend, and I love and cherish him and I will stand beside him for better or worse, through thick and thin. Jim is so amazing to me; he is my support, he is my rock. I respect his mind, I respect who he is, and I respect what his heart is made up of. He is the best father I could ever imagine; he is so charitable, he is so giving, and he loves me to death. I don't know that any of these women have ever felt the kind of love Jim and I have for each other, otherwise they would honor the fact that he is my man and leave him alone. Jim is a M.A.N. (i.e. mensch as my Jewish therapist says he is in Yiddish). What I mean is, he walks the talk and I can always count on him to do what he says he will do because his word is his bond. He will always be the man in my relationship, and I have NO desire to be in that role. This is what works for us and I wouldn't have it any other way. I've been married once before, and I've had boyfriends in the past, and guess what I have learned? I will rule the relationship. I am a very strong individual and I need a man to be a smidge stronger than I am or I will steamroll him. Deep down, I don't want to run the whole show because I have learned it’s not good for either partner in a marriage to be in charge—hence the title “partners.” I want our relationship to be 50/50, I want someone who will tell me when I am out of line. I need a partner who is not scared of me. If this is difficult for some to understand, I have really good news for you—you don't have to understand it because it is what works for me, and if it doesn't work for anyone else, then that's OK. I am not defending or explaining myself; I'm simply stating the way it is. I have let it go all season with him being the punch line of jokes, and this is my way of releasing it. I have said my peace now about Jim Bellino. He is my husband, and he deserved the first paragraph of my blog because he sat back all season and let these women annihilate him on a weekly basis without any recourse.
Of course, this wouldn't be a "closing blog" for me without mentioning the infamous Costa Rica "Intervention." I really did take to heart what each of those women said to me that night. I am a person that wants to fix my faults.
Now, months later, my memories of that night remind me of a bunch of alcoholics sitting around telling their drunken friend that she is an alcoholic, with no disrespect to alcoholics. My point is every single thing these women tried to accuse me of are behaviors they each engage in at least as much as I do if not more. I went home broken and wanting to fix whatever had happened there. Yet after watching the season play out, I really don't think there is anything I could do to have these women accept me for me.
One example, I was ridiculed for leaving Costa Rica early, then I was ridiculed for showing up to the final party happy. All I'm trying to say is I was darned if I did. . .and darned if I didn't. To be completely honest, I don't think I want these women to accept me. We just aren't wired the same way, and maybe that is something about me I did not see before because I was working so hard to fit in where I did not. I could fight each of these women and win, but in order to win I would have to change who I am, and I will not sacrifice my integrity or hurt them to gain my own prize. "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?" I'm definitely nowhere near perfect, but I find it easier to look in the mirror knowing I may have bragged a little too much than to look and see someone who is intentionally hurting others for gain, for fun, for money, or for attention. I am real, and I know it, so there's no need at this point for me to solicit the opinions of others. . .I'm Mr. Nice Guy and I'm proud of that.
Tamra made the comment that I bullied Vicki in San Francisco. NO, it was NOT the same as what happened to me in Costa Rica. There are major differences between the two. Costa Rica was premeditated. Both Heather and Tamra left the room with the very clear intention of calling me out, and it was with hate in their hearts that they came to that dinner. Tamra even muttered, "We'll just kill the bitch. . ." Who says that? Who even thinks to say that? What happened in San Francisco was very organic, and Vicki sat at the table and asked me why I was mad at her. When I tried to diffuse the situation, Vicki then said "Bring it on," so I had very little choice but to discuss it at that table with Vicki. I never wanted that conversation to happen at that moment with other women present, but I also won't back down when put in a corner. In San Francisco, the spur of the moment wound up in a conversation where Vicki asked for answers. . .In Costa Rica, I wasn't asking anyone for answers.
While we are on the topic of Tamra, I have to say: I can take all of her abuse towards me, and even towards my husband, but her abuse towards God is unacceptable. I have never heard someone talk the way she talks. She has no shame. Jesus Barbie was cute, but almost crossing the line -- I can take it in stride. Yet Jesus Jugs doesn't just cross the line, it catapults over it. That comment has offended Christians everywhere. How does she decorate her home in crosses yet make a remark like that without an ounce of guilt? Then she is promoting Jesus Jugs wine glasses her Facebook page? So now it's blasphemy along with defaming Jesus and monetizing on what He sacrificed for us. I would die for Him, and I am sticking my neck out here in honor of Him: Tamra needs to publicly apologize not just to Christians everywhere, but also to Jesus. He doesn't deserve to have negativity attached to His name just because I decided to do this show.
Let's move on to another important topic: Nordstrom and treating the crew badly. I am so deeply sorry if this has ever occurred. I have wracked my brain, and had many, many people come forward telling me they have never experienced me the way Heather described. I have asked the production crew about what she was talking about and all of them looked at me crazy and said they knew nothing about what she was talking about. I have also received phone calls, emails, and private messages on Facebook and Twitter from Nordstrom employees saying they have assisted me and do not stand by what Heather has accused me of. I also saw the blog from the publicist for Nordstrom saying they will not acknowledge it nor stand by those accusations. Now, with that said, I am still not naive enough to think there may not ever have been a day I was not the perfect shopper, and for that I apologize. But if these accusations were true, don't you think that production would have captured ONE second, just one second, of footage of me behaving that way in three years of being on TV?
I have seen Heather being mean to me all season. She tries to make amends with me in my hotel room after premeditating an "intervention" with me. I did actually want to accept her apology in my room the following day and move forward, and I actually thought we might. However, when the rest of the season played out, I saw how she still talked about me in her interviews and to Tamra following Costa Rica, and I couldn't just suddenly forget and move on. I was stand offish because I didn't trust her. I can be kind without being a friend to her. There was even a time when immediately after the night where Terry called me phony on national television, we ran into them at a restaurant here in town and they looked at Jim and I and said, "Come on, let bygones be bygones, come join us, life's too short. . ." You are darned right life is too short! It's too short to go sit at a dinner table with people who are talking smack behind my back on national television but then trying to be nice to my face. I think I smell a little phoniness there.
Heather talked about me non-stop all season long. Then she greets Jim and I with open arms at the party at her home, but moments before while getting ready with Terry she talks about how she'd toss us out if we so much as brought up Terry having called me phony. Then Terry himself is chomping at the bit to discuss the phony comment with Jim at the party. The two-faced actions and double standards are shocking and just plain crazy. And the gossip is endless. I have never in my life dealt with someone who will go to such extremes to try to be kind to my face, all the while calling me names and being so unkind behind my back. I have heard countless stories from friends and acquaintances about Heather's misconduct -- that she used a nasty tone, that she threw her drink on a server, returned food items repeatedly and deliberately to make sure they knew how important she was, spoke down to wait staff, even that she is the biggest gossip at the school. . .and the list goes on. She is projecting her knowledge of her own bad behavior onto me.
After the reunion, I apologized to Heather for my part in all of this mess, and I was hopeful we may actually move forward -- once again. But weeks later, the night the final party actually aired on television, she and Terry were on Twitter saying Jim wasn't invited to their party, when they darn good well knew that Terry had invited Jim. Plus, how would Jim get through their gate without one of them calling him through? This is just one more example of what I've had to deal with all year long. I cannot act like a friend to someone's face when I know someone is constantly demeaning me. I will not tolerate being treated this way anymore, nor will I back down when pushed far enough. It's time I stop being quiet about everything and letting people continue to walk all over me. Do I wish I had said all of this at the reunion? Yes, and I was expecting to do so. Yet I wasn't emotionally healed from Costa Rica at the reunion, so I was not quick on my feet. But guess what. . .I'm healed now.
As far as Gretchen and I, only time will tell, and I know that time can heal many wounds. But there are some things that occurred over this past season that are very deep, and still very much open and raw. To me, so much changed because Gretchen did make a choice when she befriended Tamra -- she wasn't forced by anyone to make a decision, nor was she placed in a scenario where she HAD to choose either Tamra or myself. I never put her in that place and I have several friends who don't get along. It's impossible to have it otherwise. But do I feel her behavior towards me changed? Absolutely. Perhaps it was Tamra, perhaps it was that Gretchen didn't need me anymore.
Gretchen never would have handled the Fox 5 incident or Costa Rica that way last year. If she loved me and wanted to tell me about Fox 5 out of concern like she says she did, then why didn't she come to me the MOMENT she found out I got the job with Fox 5 and show me the emails instead of waiting and doing it on the reunion? Yes, I do want honest friends, and if I have lettuce in my teeth, you better tell me or else. . .but be kind when you tell me and do it with love. I felt none of that from Gretchen this season.
As for Costa Rica, she has been my good friend for two and a half years, so why didn't she come to me sometime in those two-plus years and tell me I said things that bothered her instead of waiting and jumping on the bandwagon in Costa Rica? I'm a big girl, and can handle constructive criticism (whether it's on TV or not), but she had two and a half years to come to me and never did. I feel like she has spent enough time with Tamra now that her patterns, behaviors, outlooks, and opinions have changed. The person Gretchen really is has been lost to this new mean-girl version. I want my old friend back.
The Fox 5 issue is ridiculous. If you listen to what Gretchen and I each say on the reunion, what you will hear (if you really pay attention) is that I'm not making it a competition, she is. I admitted that the producer had offered Gretchen and I both one taping when I was a guest at their station showing my dress line TWO weeks after Gretchen had been a guest showing her makeup line. I'm very honest to say that they even told me at that point they wanted both of us to do a taping about the Del Mar Races on the same day. I said yes that will be so fun, because at that time we were friends and I had no idea I would get a segment from it. I showed up and did the taping, she declined it. After that taping, I was offered to come back for one more, so I excitedly went. After that taping, I was offered a weekly Friday segment, and I was elated! I have no problem if Fox 5 was offering Gretchen a position too, after all this is the showbiz! But once Gretchen came to my home and said they were SUPPOSEDLY still offering her the position, I demanded exclusivity, which Fox 5 didn't hesitate to give me, so they obviously didn't want her badly enough to shut that door. It’s really no more than that. But what MADE it dramatic was the way Gretchen told me she supposedly had been offered something first -- she capitalized on this foreshadowing event at the reunion.
Before closing, I feel it is important to thank Vicki for standing by me this season. I never would have thought that she and I would be where we are. In the past, when Vicki and I were not friends, there were three things I always said about her: she has a big heart, she is a good mom, and she is a great businesswoman. I am not claiming she is my best friend, and I am not claiming that she doesn't have faults, because we all do. I just know that this woman does not have a mean, malice heart. We definitely don't speak every day, but we do hang out, and we are good friends. After being shocked by other actions that have occurred this season, we are taking our friendship slowly, and truly getting to know one another. I feel bad for all the backlash she has gotten for loving Brooks, and I feel that we need to let her figure her own life out. Everyone has said their feelings about him, now realize that she is 50 years old, and she will make up her own mind. Enough is enough.
I also want to thank Dr. Niccole from CosmetiCare.com for being such a reputable and respectable doctor, and for giving me the ability to breathe again! And my bumpless nose isn't too shabby either!!
With all the drama that has occurred this season, I would not change a thing. Nothing is as important as what I am walking away with from this past year: a loving and forgiving God, myself intact, my marriage intact, a new-found friend in Vicki, and an outlook on my career and businesses that is better than it ever has been. My new ringtone is "(Stronger) What Doesn't Kill You," because that is how I feel. I have learned so much about myself and what I can change for the better. I AM stronger now than ever before. I believe my kids will grow up and be proud of how their mother handled all of the situations that were thrown at me, and that is all that truly matters (obviously not for 14 more years because if it's in my power they will not see this show til they are 20! LOL). I kept my dignity and my values, and I will work every day to be a better person.
I am so incredibly grateful for all the fans who have been so kind and supportive this season. You guys have done something for me emotionally that I am not sure you will ever fully understand. It’s been moving beyond words to hear from you, and my gratitude is endless. I adore each and every one of you. I will keep in contact through Facebook and Twitter, as I feel you all are why I am here. I may not know what the future holds, but I know WHO holds the future.