Aimee + Scott Whitman's Life in Los Angeles
I'm not sure if Scott and I ever told you or Chad about how we met but I wanted to tell you Our Story. The true one. Usually when people hear how long we've been married they think we are High School sweethearts. Well I was 17 but Scott was 24 and we turned an entire town upside down with our secrets, lies and betrayals.
It's not the kind of love story you can tell people. In fact we can barely bring ourselves to read our love letters because of the damage that it did, but we both believe it is important to share with teenagers who feel trapped like there is no way out from the embarrassment, shame and guilt their mistakes cause. Was it a mistake for Scott and I to be together? No, of course not after being together for 22 years. Our significant others went on to get married and have kids and I couldn't imagine life without Scott supporting me.
However the suicides, threats and attempts that took place over the years have left me a hollowed out shell of a human being. I have no ability to love anyone, but more importantly I can't allow anyone to love me enough to want to take their life because of something I have done, but it's what I haven't done that leaves them to feel unwanted. I never grew up feeling loved, so I'm not sure how to express it. It seems so weird to everyone else who thinks I should like being admired or loved. I think I like the attention, I just don't like the dependency.
Life in LA is very difficult. Our rent costs 4 times more than our 4 bedroom house in Ohio. It's full of superficial relationships and people just looking for their big break. They are in, out and on to the next thing. I loved that. Nobody that I really needed to bond with, just people to have fun or network with. Life was always a party where we lived at The Seascape in Marina del Rey.
Recently Scott and I have been struggling. We're best friends and have agreed that neither of us are happy with our current situation. I'm happy in LA and he's not. I'm just not the same person I used to be. Especially since Chad's death. I didn't realize it is what caused me to crack until you started talking openly on Facebook. I've had to keep my suicide stories secret for so many years and I've been living in fear that Scott might take his life if I ever cheated on him or decided to leave him. He doesn't share much with me anymore and we've been arguing all of the time over my direction for Modern Material because I'm just stuck and it has drained our savings. The stress is overwhelming him and the jealousy when I get close to working with other men has caused me to back away from lucrative business deals. It's a vicious cycle because my new career had me out until after midnight in Hollywood wining and dining with my ex-business partner, James Christian, who is a very influential record producer and night club owner. So much has changed in our lives.
The story with James is long, so I'll save that for later. He left in May 2016 and I was a bit relieved to have my freedom back. He had too much control as a 50/50 business partner. I was ready to start building my own network in LA. Scott and I had gotten caught up in the party scene at The Seascape. We had so many friends and the guys were always hitting on me. Everyone was drinking and we were often downing a bottle of wine and taking shots of Fireball and Tequila every Friday, Saturday and Sunday Funday at the Pool. Drugs were everywhere and we'd take a few hits of someone's weed but a lot of people were doing cocaine or mollie. Crazy shit happened there. I guess that's what happens when people have lots of money to spend.
I met Freddie Rodriquez, a fashion photographer who lived a few doors down and was the same age as me who I clicked with. Our brains were going wild with all kinds of creative ideas and we wanted to create beauty brands for influencers since he photographs actresses for the covers of fashion magazines. All the girls thought he was hot and he was such a party boy that summer. We're pretty sure I got ruffied at his birthday party at a hotel pool because I don't remember much, but thankfully Scott and our friends got me home. A few weeks later Freddy and I were out until 2 am at our friend's apartment and when I got home Scott was gone. He was so worried I was hooking up with Freddy and his mind started racing. I was just trying to do business and when you put two creative people together, it can get explosive and you lose track of time. He was going to be photographing Khloé Kardashian and we wanted to come up with a brand concept. This was before Kylie Jenner turned her cosmetic company into a Billion dollar empire. We are kicking ourselves, but something didn't feel right to me. Modern Material meant more than being another celebrity makeup brand.
Well there is more to the story as to why Freddie and I didn't move forward. Scott was jealous and didn't trust Freddie when we first met him. I was worried about where he went and he said he went down to his office. He was extremely distraught and sounded suicidal. I was terrified and trying to talk him out of his state of mind. His office was in a high-rise in Downtown LA so that's all I could picture. Eventually I got him to calm down and come home. The next day I called Stephanie. They have been best friends for years and this is what she told me.
"You are going to be really upset and feel guilty if Scott kills himself because you put your business first," Stephanie said.
It triggered memories of the last time he was in that state when Christine Durant and I spent the night in Cleveland and he thought I hooked up with a guy from Pat Monahan's band after a party at The House of Blues in October 2007. It was the first time I'd seen Christine having fun since Jack Christian's suicide in March 2007. I was on Pat's Street Team and got After Party passes for posting gig posters on the OSU campus. Christine and I loved Pat's song Her Eyes and of course all of Train's songs, so we decided to have a girls weekend up in Cleveland. Scott suspected something happened because Christine and I were making plans to go to a concert in Washington D.C. after the band invited us to go. The after party was a fun experience and I emailed my friend in Denver who loved music too. Scott ended up reading my email and got really upset when I was talking about this band guy who was flirting and hanging all over me. Nothing happened but the bass player wanted me to go back to the tour bus. He sent me pictures of him wearing my Modern Material t-shirt on tour. I wanted to give it to Pat, but he was too busy.
This was the lifestyle brand experience I pitched to Christine Durant's ex-husband, James Christian, who is now my ex-business partner. When we met I told him about my concert experiences and how Christine and I had pop up shops in Columbus with Twenty One Pilots to promote our apparel lines and their music. They were both still grieving from Jack's suicide in 2007. James and I were getting very close as we were shaping the business but a conversation with a woman caught him off guard. He was very upset and had tears in his eyes when he grabbed my hand and pulled me into the dark. He said nobody but a parent who lost their child could understand what it felt like. My heart broke for him.
I hadn't told him that I created Modern Material to keep Christine busy and to keep me from getting in trouble for hanging out backstage or on tour buses with guys in bands. I never told him about Christine asking me for advice before Jack's suicide. She called me one sunny January weekend morning in Ohio. I remember this phone call clear as day. I was staring out the window at your house. Jack had gone off to college at The University of Michigan where he was being bullied by the jocks. He was an artist and they were calling him the weird kid for not liking football. He attempted suicide she called me hysterically crying and panicked. She didn't know what to do, but she knew I'd been through it with Stephanie Kane. I promised her that suicide was just a teenage phase. That he'd be okay, he just needed friends to remind him he wasn't alone. A few months later Jack came home for Spring Break in 2007 and Christine and I took him to see Pete Yorn at The Newport. We loved the song Crystal Village. We went to dinner at Eddie George's with Jack and his girlfriend before the show. I was joking around about wanting to beat the people up who stole my spot.
Two days later he shot himself. I was just in shock. Suicide was suddenly a reality.
I realized I needed to be a better friend to Christine than I had been to Stephanie. All I could think about was how broken and guilty I would have felt if Stephanie hadn't lived. How would I feel knowing I was the cause of her death? I know it wasn't my decision, but it was my responsibility to be a friend. I lucked out, but then I started wondering something. What if I didn't luck out? What if I realized that I was not the right support for Stephanie and she only lived through her attempts because she found a friend who knew what to say to her during those dark days?
I blamed myself for 10 years after Jack's suicide for how much I bullied Stephanie for being a burden on my life. Stephanie was jealous of my friendship with Christine but we just had a different bond over our love for music and lyrics, then add in our bond over suicide and we just lived in our own private world. I needed her to heal me just as much as she needed me. She said nobody else could handle talking about suicide and I was finally relieved to be able to let my secrets out.
When Scott and I decided to make the move to Los Angeles in 2014 they had a hard time taking the news. Christine and her friend told me something about Scott that led me to believe he might have cheated on me with someone who I suspected. I'm sure your Chad would have known who. I stopped hanging out with Scott's group of friends the last few years in Columbus. I could have cared less about the football games and was busy with Highball Halloween and Chad and you didn't host Saturdays once the girls started getting older.
Life here is LA just isn't the same. He misses close friendships and family and I find myself relieved I don't have many commitments unless I'm just getting together with my friends for a drink. Our life at The Seascape has now disappeared. Everyone had to move out because rent was sky high. Our 2 BR / 2.5 BA was raised to $4,600 per month so we moved to Long Beach where we still have an Ocean View at The Current. It's just different though.
Scott was traveling for work last year. He was gone 150 days. Mostly San Diego and a lot of trips to Cleveland, New York, Nashville, Columbus, San Francisco, Portland, Montreal, the Philippines, and Hawaii. Heck, I have no idea where he is most of the time. So I've gotten used to taking care of myself and living on my own. Something I have never really gotten to do. But these last few years I've found myself emotionally void and distant. I used to get so jealous of some of his friendships and some of the women at The Seascape. Now I just find myself relieved I don't have those feelings anymore. He rarely seems jealous either and that is a big relief after what happened in the summer of 2016. He has been taking an anti-anxiety medication and it pretty much numbed him out.
But I was also terrified. I was terrified of a party up on the rooftop at The Seascape and I didn't know what was wrong with Scott. I thought the guys might have been doing coke and I just had another flash of the roof. He'd also pass out and get sick after a lot of parties. We were finally cool with Freddy who had a serious girlfriend, Charlie Martin, who was the best thing ever for that boy. By that point and everyone was friends after he settled down. Heck, I even slept in Freddie and Charlotte's bed with their Pitbull, Fifi, when they would go out of town, and Freddie and I still sat around and talked business with a bottle of wine. So the jealousy wasn't an issue anymore.
In January 2017 we were moving up to the Penthouse apartment in the morning but Scott went to the Whaler in Venice with our friends. This time I was the one who was jealous and suspicious. He said he was walking home but he hadn't shown up by 2am. He called me with his speech slurred so I jumped in my car and went searching for him. I circled the block several times and couldn't find him. Then I saw him passed out in the street in front of a parked car. I got him into my car and he puked. It just wasn't like him. In 20 years I'd never ever seen him like that. With all the cocaine around I wasn't sure what was going on and I laid in bed on the phone with Stephanie all night, which was 3 hours later in Ohio, just making sure he didn't choke on his vomit. I was upset because the movers were going to arrive at 9 am.
The next morning he was completely fine. Turns out mixing his anxiety medication with a bunch of shots of Fireball is a bad idea after drinking beer since noon. It was just getting scary. Earlier in the year one of our neighbors died from a drug overdose. I saw the police outside the door and was terrified it was our good friend. Thankfully it wasn't, but still it was sad.
We'd both become these people we barely recognized. Drinking was becoming a bit of a problem but it was the only way to calm the social anxiety. I needed to work my ass off and network for my business but that put me in situations that made him jealous. The resentment was building up between us spending all our money chasing my dreams and me feeling like I had to give up my dream every time he got jealous or concerned about what I was doing out late at night. Now we are in this state of not caring anymore.
I thought this limbo feeling was all about how things failed with my partner James Christian. I've been really upset about that because things just aren't the same for Modern Material without James but I think he just seemed to connect with my soul without me ever telling him a single secret about my life. Everything about James's tragic life reminded me of everything I ran away from in my life. It was like God was sending me reminders. I also think it was God's way of telling me that Karma is a bitch. It was the first time that I truly felt rejection and abandonment since I was a teenager. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get James to come back to Modern Material and he meant more to me than just another means to an end.
But you know what Shelby? I realized James wasn't a part of the life that I lived. He wasn't the reason I've experienced so much trauma. James wasn't a part of My Story...not at the time...but he is now of course. My Story began long before he brought me into his life in Hollywood, CA where the music he puts in movies sets the mood for the story. My Story was more tragic and shameful than anything Hollywood could even make up and I knew the answer belonged on all those mixed tapes I made for my boyfriends and best friends in the 90's while I was grounded in my room with a broken heart.
It's time to tell MY STORY....The life I lived before Scott and I got married and met Chad + Shelby Raines. The life I lived before Chad and Jack took their lives. I needed to go back and remember why suicide just seemed to be a part of my daily vocabulary. I needed to remember why I constantly live in fear that my decisions will be deadly. I needed to remember who Aimee Skyler was, not who Aimee Whitman is.