Last night’s episode of "Real World Portland" brought the drama as usual, but this time from an unlikely source. A good night became a bad fight when the typically soft-spoken Anastasia got upset with her visiting boyfriend Mark for having a few drinks too many.
Drinking smart is important both on an individual level and in relationships as well. The effects of drinking too much can be worsened when there are underlying issues that haven’t been addressed sober. Although she had a point, Anastasia’s loud reaction to Mark’s over-drinking seemed out of character considering her usual, calm way of addressing house drama. After the episode, she revealed there was more to the story, and chatted with AfterBuzzTV about her history with Mark. We reached out to the girl they call “Bird” to find out more.
MTV ACT: So far this season, you've been impressively levelheaded while addressing house drama … but Mark really got you riled up! Were there unseen factors that led to the big blowout?
ANASTASIA: Alcohol (shot after shot after shot) played a detrimental role in our argument, but I would like viewers to know the full story, because I gave editors very little information to work with in order to tell it. I found out briefly before I left for Portland that my boyfriend had a serious drug problem. He told me he would get help once I left. That never happened. I made a conscious decision not to tell anyone on the show, or in production, about my boyfriend's problem. I didn't feel it was my right to speak on behalf of Mark. So I walked around the house for months bearing an extremely heavy load. But, I should also have a chance to speak up for myself. Now, I believe it's best to be honest.
I am not an evil girl who detests people having fun. Mark came to see me high on pills, and even bought drugs in Portland. He drank like a fish. This is an extremely lethal combination, and also deadly. In the bedroom, I was trying to TELL him that I KNEW he was using, and I was disappointed. However, remember that I was very careful never to let cameras or people know. So, it's pretty coded. But he knew what I was saying. Later, in the hotel, he was acting bizarre, irrational. I was trying to beg him to stay because I didn't know what to do at that point. I didn't want him doing something harmful to himself. I wanted him to stay, then go home and get help. The cameras actually gave me a day of private time with him, and after that day I could see he had a very serious problem, and I was extremely worried.
ACT: Why the decision to come forward now, and not while you were in the house?
ANASTASIA: I loved him. I didn’t want to embarrass him on television or force him to reveal anything before he was ready. I was also embarrassed. I didn’t want my friends, family and “Real World” viewers to know I was in a relationship with an addict. I’m coming forward now because I want people to know the truth. I want girls to know that they don’t have to go through what I went through and keep it a secret. I stayed in an unhealthy relationship for too long. I made Mark’s problems my problems, and didn’t have the strength to speak up or leave him.
ACT: You tend to be the advice-giver in the house. In hindsight what advice would you give to yourself in that moment, or to others in similar situations?
ANASTASIA: I should have let Mark go. Everyone has issues, but when your partner's issues directly affect your lifestyle, health and emotions, it's time to go. I'm all for helping people, but sometimes you have to help yourself. If someone doesn't want to change, they won't. I hate that I was so drawn to fixing Mark’s problems that I didn't help myself. Don't ever feel guilty for putting yourself first. As you can see, Mark put himself first the entire episode. He selfishly came to see me on drugs, made a choice to get wasted knowing how emotional I am about that (given I have an alcoholic father), and wanted me to leave one of the best experiences of my life for him. Hello! Wake up, Anastasia!
ACT: Where do you draw the line between petty arguments and emotional or verbal abuse, and do you think that line was ever crossed — between you and Mark, and in the “Real World” house in general?
ANASTASIA: When one person is speaking calmly, but the other is using curse words and insults, that's verbal abuse. If someone repeatedly says things to make you sad or put you down, that’s verbal and emotional abuse. The things Mark said to me during our argument — and some of the things the roommates said to each other when they fought — definitely crossed the line.
ACT: What advice do you have for people in similar situations?
ANASTASIA: Verbal and emotional abuse are never acceptable. Anyone who makes you feel like your feelings don’t matter is not worth a second of your time. Love yourself and get out while you can. When it comes to substance abuse, you can urge someone to get help, but they will not accept it until they are ready to. Always offer help and be a safe outlet, but don’t stay in a relationship with someone who isn’t ready to change, and only drags you down with them. That’s not love.
ACT: How is Mark now, and are you two still together?
ANASTASIA: We are no longer together, but he’s doing well. I want to stress that, in spite of his issues, Mark is a good person. He lost himself, but sought the help he needed, and has been clean and sober for almost a year now. (End of interview)
Anastasia's initially secretive reaction to Mark's substance abuse is common, but if substance abuse or misuse leads to repeated interpersonal problems for you or someone you know, get help. Learn to recognize the signs of verbal, physical and emotional abuse, and what to do when you spot them, so you can help yourself or others if or when they occur. Even through minor bumps in the road, relationships should lift us up, not drag us down, and one should never risk his or her own physical or emotional well-being to “fix” a friend or loved one. If someone close to you is having a particularly hard time, be there in the kindest and safest ways possible, but know that you alone cannot fix everything.
If you’re looking to give or get help, check out Half Of Us and Love Is Respect, or contact a local licensed professional. If, like Anastasia in last night’s episode, you’re not yet comfortable speaking to people you know, call SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP for 24/7 anonymous help and resources. And if someone's life is in immediate danger, call 911! Catch more of Anastasia and the rest of her "Real World Portland" roommates on MTV, Wednesday nights at 10/9c.