5 Things I’ve Learned Being Single for 3 Years

After a productive Sunday of running, cleaning, dog walking and meal prepping – what I really wanted was a glass of wine. What I really needed was to write.

So as most responsible adults do, I did both.

After the hostess said she’s hold a table for 10 minutes for us, Lucy and I raced down to Toast, one of my favorite Upper West Side hangouts. I ordered some Pinot just as the sun was setting and the half-moon was making it’s debut in the June sky. And though I had deadlines to meet, articles and galleries to edit, plans to make and blogs to write – I took a moment and just looked up.

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And for the first time, in a very long time, I felt so comfortable, so happy, so secure in my own skin, I impressed myself. Here I was, 25-years-old and having dinner by myself on a Sunday evening, outside in the city that I love, with a pup that catches the attention of every single person that walks by. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have had the confidence or the independence to sit alone and enjoy a meal.

Much less, sit pretty for more than two hours.

In fact, in the years – almost three now! – that I’ve been single, I’ve learned just about everything that I wanted to learn when I first started this blog. And while 2013 pushed me to the extreme in every are of my life, 2014 has proven the true power of hope. And of faith. And of believing in the unknown, just like I’ve always had the courage to do.

Writing about being single doesn’t give me an advantage as much as it puts me at a disadvantage in dating – everything I think, feel and have experienced in my love life is splashed across the internet, well-read by many and quoted by some. But while I hesitate to share my last name too soon into getting to know someone, I’m never embarrassed by the path it took to get here, and the things I’ve learned about being single along the way.

To name a few…

1-    (I Hate to Admit This) But It’s Fun to Be Single (Sometimes)

Not always and not mostly, but sometimes having zero obligation to someone else is not only convenient – it’s liberating. There are days when I don’t wake up until 11 a.m., don’t talk to anyone (but Lucy) and don’t think twice about being selfish with my plans. And if I happen to meet someone that I click with – it’s surprising and it’s interesting. At least for a few dates, anyway. And if it’s not, I know I have many beautiful parts of my life – friends, travel, a rewarding job, an exciting place to live – to enjoy instead.

2-    Friends Are So Much More Important Than Men

Yes of course, once you get married, things change. But while we’re all dating, mating, attempting to relate to one another and figuring it all out as we go, the friendships you cherish are the ones you invest in. While everyone is on their own path and going through different things, having women that you connect with on a daily basis not only makes you feel less crazy, but reminds you of all the reasons you’re wonderful, too. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned while being single – that I’m determined to carry on once I meet someone – is not letting a man monopolize my time. You can’t become so consumed with one person that you forget about the special ladies who helped you become the person you are.

3-    For Heaven’s Sake, Don’t Settle

Seriously though, don’t. It’s so incredibly tempting when a man is just about right. Or just about turns you on. Or is just about what you’re looking for. Or just about makes you laugh. Here’s the thing: the man you ultimately end up with won’t be everything you’re looking for. But when you meet him and get to know him, you won’t list all the reasons he’s wrong. You might see that he’s not quite as tall or quite as romantic or quite as successful as you would have hoped, but you’re able to see past it. If you have to convince yourself to date someone, you shouldn’t be dating him.

4-    You Really Can Do Anything

Not that you can’t once you’re in a relationship, but there’s something about doing everything by yourself that’s so satisfying. Like paying for and carrying groceries and laundry, budgeting, watching Game of Thrones, booking vacations (and going on them), and everything else – when you’re single, you figure out just how much you can do, without help from anyone. I will surely look forward to the day when I can score a great one bedroom that I split with another person (whom I also share a bed with), but for now, I’m really happy with where I am. And really enjoying the great arms I have from the heavy lifting.

5-    Men Are People, Too

Some are dogs. Some will lead you on. Some will never let go. Some will break your heart and some will inspire you. But more than they are lovers or could-be husbands or boyfriends, or that person that buys you flowers and likes how you look naked, they are people. People with stories. With strengths. With weakness. With a history and a hope for the future. With different motivating factors and different nationalities. They are very simply, just people. And when you’re looking for one of those people to date, they should not just be some idea in your head – they should be someone that you value and respect– as a person. Not as a man or a lover or a partner. But as a person.

And hopefully, they’ll think the same of you – because more than you’re a single woman or a girl who works in digital media or a girl with a dog in New York City or a girl with a blog or anything else- you’re a person. A person who is living – and thriving – independently.

Finally. Happily.

 

 

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Dear Boy

Dear boy who showed up drunk on our very first date.

After you moved our meeting time three times because you were running late. You showed up fifteen minutes past when you said you’d be there, and I watched you stumble in. You looked remarkably like someone I already knew, but I tried not to notice your slight case of alcoholism. I smiled and answered your questions, as awkward and intrusive as they were. I attempted not to judge you when you finished three beers before I finished my first glass of wine and after I declined a second one, I politely waited for you to finish your fourth Bud Light. Though you did insist on paying, you also tried to insist on me coming home with you, though I had to open the cab door for you because you couldn’t open it yourself. I laughed as you asked for my number (when you already had it) and then again when you mentioned how much fun we would have if I would stay the night with you (after I already refused before). When you texted me the next day making a joke about drinking too much, I sweetly let you down, and you responded saying I should be more forgiving and go with the flow.

Dear boy who ignored me when I wouldn’t sleep with you on our third date.

I really did like you. I really did feel such a great, amazing connection with you. It was nice to have an educated, interesting conversation with someone that wasn’t based on the basics of New York: where you’re from, what you do, what part of the city you live in, OMG this weather is awful/awesome. I loved the places you picked for our dates and even more so, how you insisted on walking me home and like a gentleman, kissing me goodnight without pressuring to come upstairs. I liked how you sent me funny memes and remembered things about our conversation that I didn’t even recall, and how you set up another date before the date we were on was over. I thought that maybe you and I would be something, something more than a handful of dates or a drunken encounter – but then you disappeared when I wouldn’t give it up on our last date. A day passed. A week. And I realized that even though you talked about many wonderful things that could possibly be, the thing you wanted more than anything was to get jerked off. Sorry I’m not sorry that I disappointed you.

Dear boy who refused to leave Brooklyn on a Saturday night when the L train was down.

The first time we were supposed to meet up, you got too tipsy with friends you haven’t “seen in a long time” and couldn’t stumble your way to a bar to meet me. It was really considerate of you to cancel less than hour before our date, after I showered, walked the dog and was just about to get on the train. I did actually appreciate your sincere and honest apology, and I thought our first date was intriguing and had easy, casual energy. Your motivation and passion for what you do was inspiring and well, I loved that you were 6’3” and held doors open for me. Your follow-up text message that night and the following day were enticing enough for me to agree to a second date. And though I was hesitant about going to your neighborhood, I agreed anyway. But when the trains stopped working and I asked for a compromise that was equally convenient (or inconvenient) for both of us, and you couldn’t be bothered to move from your street (and let’s be honest, your bed, I’m guessing), I couldn’t be bothered to deal with you.

Dear boy who doesn’t know how tall he is or what he does for a living.

Your text messages were alluring and convincing – I really thought our date would be fascinating. But before I even walked in the door, I knew I had been tricked. I’m sorry, but 6’0” and 5’7” are not the same thing – not even close. Especially when I wear heels to impress you on our first date. And while I still would have gone out with you if you said you were merely interning somewhere, I was annoyed that you claimed you lived and worked here. When in reality, you’re just here for the summer. I would have let all of that slide except that you couldn’t keep eye contact for even a second in the 45-minutes we drug out that one drink. Your eyes met my breasts and my legs, my ass and my knees, but never once did you look at me. I tried to brush it off, but I probably showed my anger when as we went to part ways, you joked: “So next time, let’s just do your place.” Let’s not.

Dear boy who showed up wanting to get laid when I was running 100-degree fever.

I liked the outdoor space where we had a few too many cocktails and then went to your friend’s 30th birthday party. I thought it was odd you wanted to bring me along, but we had so much fun dancing and chatting with everyone you knew that I couldn’t wait to go on another date with you. It was so nice of you to show up not only on time, but early, and to order my favorite glass of wine so it was waiting for me. Though I couldn’t decide how attracted I was to you, I was attracted to your personality and the way you expressed yourself. I told myself not to be so picky, to give you a chance, and so I did, on another date. But then I got sick. And I was going out of town. And though I didn’t want to cancel on you, I could hardly get out of bed and barely breathe through my nose, so I did. You surprised me when you said you’d bring soup and drive me to the airport the next morning. When you showed up sans-chicken noodle and pushed me onto my bed, attempting to rip my clothes off and I stopped you, I was appalled when you said: “What, you don’t want to? It’s our fourth date.” After I sweetly kicked you out and cursed you, I made a mental note to always go with my gut.

Dear boy that I loved for three years too long.

You were the best and the worst of them all. You were a boy before we dated and I dreamed you into a man, nursed you into a gentleman and you turned right back into a boy, fooling me every move, every month, every fuck along the way. Your love and what I hoped for us was felt like a shadow extending over everything that I did – always lurking, always promising something that would never be. It took every ounce of dignity, every last slice of pride, every piece of courage I had to finally walk away from you. To block your number and send your emails to trash. To push you out of my life, my thoughts, my lingering belief in impossible possibilities. I loved you in ways that I didn’t know I could love, and you changed me in powerfully painful ways I didn’t know someone could ever inflict. And though everyone told me that it would happen one uneventful day and I never believed them, my attachment to you released in an instant. The heartstrings let loose, my tears ran dry and though you’ll always be somewhere in my thoughts, you’ll never be anything more than a memory. A bittersweet memory that prepared me for the worst of it in New York. If I can survive you, I can survive anything.

Dear me.

You don’t always think you’re doing it right, and more often than not, you’re embarrassed by your insecurities. You blame yourself for everything that goes wrong with some boy, some relationship, some date, even though it’s not (always) your fault. You constantly obsess about being too much or too little, if you’re pretty enough or far too picky to find that love you look for. You keep going when the going gets tough, and though you have your tantrums, you never lose hope. You never give up. And I’m proud of you for that. For never settling, for standing up for yourself, even when it’s the hardest thing to do. Even when your friends think you’re too harsh and when they give advice you don’t take. I’m inspired by how you lead your life with love, even if the love you want the most is not at reach. I know you don’t want to date yet another boy, but do it anyway. Learn from it. Write about it. Help other women. Let all of those dear boys pass through your life because they’re just making you stronger, getting you one step closer to the you that you’re meant to be.

And if you keep believing, closer to the man – not the boy – that’s meant to be, too.

PS: If you have a “Dear Boy” letter you’d like to share, comment below or email me: confessions.loveaddict@gmail.com. I’ll publish them anonymously or linking back to your blog or social account. 

Falling in Love on Fridays

Whenever I meet a new couple or I speak to someone who gushes about their partner, I always ask about their how-we-met story. For whatever reason, the way two strangers turn into friends or into lovers or into friends and then lovers, fascinates me. Maybe it’s because I believe in fate or the power of the universe (thanks mom!), or it’s just my romantic disposition at its sappiest – but I love learning about how folks somehow, in some magical or terribly ordinary way, found their way to another person. To their person.

I’ve had a few meet-cutes of my own: I fell down in front of Mr. Possibility on a bus on the way back from JFK Labor Day weekend. I saw Mr. Idea working and found a mutual friend to introduce us because he looked so darn dashing in his green shirt. I used to pass by Mr. Faithful every day in high school until finally, I invited him to a BBQ by putting my number in his pocket. I interviewed Mr. Fire for an article in the college newspaper, and once the feature ran, he asked me out.

All of these meetings could have made for the start of happily-ever-after if the guys didn’t turn out to happily-after-never – but the way we stumbled into each other (sometimes, literally speaking), will always hold a special place in my memories of each of those relationships. Our stories of how we fell in love (or sweaty, amazing, passionate lust), are tales I tell here and ones I keep close to my heart, reminding me that if I can love once (and twice and three times…), I can always love again.

But the story of how I fell in love with myself – as I’ve depicted through hundreds and hundreds of blogs over the past two years – that story is just as beautiful and endearing. It’s been brutally honest to a point of pain and also full of light, hope and gentle peace. It’s had ups and downs, and I’ve fallen in and out of love with this city, with my life here, with the woman I’m becoming and the woman I want to be over, and over again. That’s what makes it a great story – from the meeting to the ending and everything that had to conspire in between to make those two points important.

And so – I want to know your stories.

Of how you fell in love with the man you’re dating or married to. Or the one you broke up with three years ago. Or the one you just can’t get over, but want to. I want to know the story of how you fell in love with yourself after the breakups, the makeups, the unemployment periods, the days you got the dream job, the moment you felt your best and sexiest, the periods of complete self-satisfaction. The stories of moving to a new place or falling back in love with an old one.

Every Friday, I’ll post a “Falling in Love on Friday” blog. You don’t have to be a writer to submit, but if you do have a blog, I’ll gladly link back. Pictures aren’t necessary, but always encouraged. Email me at confessions (dot) loveaddict (@) gmail (dot) com. I’ll try my best to respond to everyone.

Tell me your stories – and I promise to keep telling you mine…

My Rape Was Legitimate

In September of 2006, I had been in college for less than a month. Everything still felt so new and exciting– I was living away from home, I was finally working toward getting that journalism degree I wanted, I was making friends and living my life.

I was never one of the gals who went to house parties in high school – I was way too focused on everything else: starting a community service club, running the student newspaper, playing tennis, applying to college. But when I went two hours away to Appalachian State, the upperclassman, who I would later realize weren’t legal drinking age either, seemed to have an endless supply of anything us lowly freshmen wanted to try. I happily indulged, bonding with my newly-found friends from the dorm, and together  — often in packs of 10 or so – we walked to house parties and took in the “college life” we thought was so cool.

But everything changed for me the night of my eighteenth birthday.

I had been casually seeing this guy who helped me get a job at the student newspaper. We had mutual friends, and I thought he was nice enough. He asked me out on a few dates which ended with a few kisses, but I didn’t feel anything romantic between us. I had just broken up with Mr. Faithful and I really didn’t want to start anything new. But he was a good, older friend and when he offered to throw my birthday party at his place, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. I brought along two of my new friends (who are still some of my dearest friends today), and we started drinking the moment we arrived.

He had bought all of us a six pack of something – I really don’t remember if it was Smirnoff or Mike’s Hard Lemonade or something else. I just know it was something easy to drink for newly-forming palettes that weren’t trained on what quality alcohol is and what it’s not. I know there were drinking games, a champagne toast, a banjo playing and a severe lack of food. My friends paired off with party guests and I walked around meeting everyone, getting kissed on the cheek by strangers because of my birthday pin and princess crown. I felt really mature and incredibly special – like I was finally having a real party and I was finally becoming an adult.

I’m not sure what time things started to become hazy, but at some point, all I wanted to do was to lie down. To this day, I still don’t know if anything was put in my glass/bottle or if I just had too much to drink, but I curled myself up onto the couch in my pink-and-white flowered dress and settled in to take a nap. I opened my eyes a few times and saw a few people from the knee down, walking around and then out the door. I noticed it get quieter and when someone put a blanket over me. I don’t really remember falling asleep, but eventually I did.

And the next thing I remember was pain. Something started really hurting.

Groggily, I tried to wake myself up to make it stop, but everything felt really heavy, especially my eyelids and my arms. I noticed the smell of sweat and wondered if it was me and if I brought deodorant with me. I was embarrassed that I might be smelly. I started to come fully awake and in what seemed like hours, but was really seconds, I realized what was happening – I was being raped.

The guy who threw the party was moving on top of me and I could feel the sweat from his forehead dripping onto mine. I didn’t know my dress had been pulled up to my stomach and I felt it crumpled against me, irritating my skin. With all the might I could muster, I pushed him off of me and he said the five words I can still hear perfectly:

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

Even though I knew I shouldn’t if I wanted to file a report, as soon as I got home, I showered. I picked the corner stall of the women’s bathroom on my floor and I sobbed until I couldn’t anymore. I scrubbed every inch and tried my best to ignore the pain when I rinsed down there. When my parents arrived around noon to celebrate my birthday, I told them everything and we cried together. I never put on a pretty outfit to go out to a fancy lunch with them as I always did for special occasions, instead, I stayed in a Gap sweatshirt the entire day. The picture of me blowing out my candles on that day is hard for me to look at – because I see the pain in my eyes that probably no one else notices. My parents asked if I wanted to press charges, my dad threatened to go after the guy (obviously), but I made the decision not to.

For a very difficult reason – I had just started at the student newspaper and I didn’t want some scandal ruining my reputation or keeping me from escalating up the ranks. I figured since he had been working there for a few years, his tenure would overpower my words, so I just remained silent. I called him out on it one time and he denied it. He’s never admitted it, and he’s claimed he didn’t remember anything from that night. But I still remember those five words of half-assed remorse that he said.

He graduated two years before me and I became a desk editor, the associate editor and I landed internships in NYC. I give a lot of credit to what I learned at that newspaper, and sometimes I wonder if I would have been as successful if I would have spoken up and called him out. I still feel uneasy about not doing anything about the situation, especially when a friend who was on staff talked about something similar happening to her with the same guy.

But what I’ve struggled with the most is the legitimacy of my rape. And what being raped says about me as a person, as a woman…as a survivor.

I was not attacked in some dark alley. The bruises I have from being raped are not visible. I didn’t bleed. I didn’t scream “No” over-and-over, only to be ignored by passerby. I wasn’t held at gun or knife point. I’ve barely told anyone about what happened to me. It took some therapy in college, some life lessons and a lot of growing up to admit to myself that I was raped. It somehow didn’t seem like it was bad enough to be called that or somehow, I was responsible for what happened to me. Maybe if I hadn’t drank so much. Or if I had decided to not go to that house party. Maybe I led him on into thinking I was into him, when I wasn’t. Perhaps I gave him a sign that I wanted to have sex, even though I never consented to the act. But as so many people have recently pointed out – rape is rape. And the victim is never to blame.

It happened and it was awful and it has changed my life. It changed who I am as a person. For a long time, I thought about it every single day. I still think of it when someone asks me how many people I’ve slept with – do I count the sex that I was forced to have? Does he count as a sexual partner? I think about it when I’m starting to get into a relationship with someone or developing feelings, and there have only been a handful of boyfriends I’ve actually told. I’ve only shared my story with close friends, some of which have also been raped, some that are shocked to know what I went through, without telling anyone. Its impact has made me incredibly interested in sex crimes — I wrote my senior thesis in sociology about human trafficking, and I cry almost every time I watch Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. I’ve searched the Sex Offenders Registry, only to find there are two convicted violent rapists within blocks of me. I carry mase when I run, just in case. I pray for it never to happen to me again.

My rape was legitimate. It was painful – emotionally and physically and personally. If only for a few moments, it took away something that belongs to me: my choice. My choice to make love or to have sex or to do everything-but. It took away my choice to let a man inside of me. It took away my choice to ask for more and to tell someone to slow down. It took away a piece of me that I’ll never get back.

But it also did something else for me: it helped make me a fighter. And if sharing my story, as difficult as it is to pen, can help another woman realize that her rape was real – regardless of what she drank, what she was wearing or who raped her – then it’s worth it. These words are worth sharing, and I’m finally ready to publish them.

No one can change what happened to me or what may have happened to you – because we weren’t given a choice. But it is our choice to move forward. It is our choice to say what happened was legitimate, and no one has the right — or the power – to say it’s not.

If you’ve been raped, the RAINN hotline will answer your call. If you want to read the letter that helped inspire me to finally write this post, read this from Eve Ensler. If you just want to share your story or talk to someone who has been there, email me. You’re not alone.

Mr. Smith & the Little Notebook

In the heart of the Flat Iron District, right across from the building itself is a lovely place called Eataly.

It’s carved right out of the streets of Venice, with bright colors and even richer smells peppered about the establishment that entices passerbys, tourists and New Yorkers to take a stroll. There are cappuccinos and gelato, fresh cheeses and a wide selection of wine, along with truffle oil priced at $20 for an ounce or so. It’s fancy and expensive, filled with items I’d never buy for my kitchen, but treats I easily indulge in while I’m in the area.

But this night, my interest was piqued somewhere else. I didn’t give into the temptation of the double-chocolate cannolis and I kindly nodded against the samples of freshly baked bread with pesto dipping sauce. I looked away from the aisles filled with cooking knick-knacks that I could imagine myself using while wearing a silky black dress and expensive heels to match my expensive taste. But in that fantasy, I’m also dark-haired, exotic and tanned — not an Irish descendant with brown hair, blue eyes and cheeks that freckle in the sun.

In reality, I was waiting here to meet someone with similar hair and eyes but a foot taller. I nervously waited his arrival, still rather unsettled on my impression, and eager to see why he picked this location for our third date. I wondered if I haphazardly mentioned my obsession with all-things Italian or if it showed in my hips that devilishly trick me into picking pasta over salad nine times out of ten. When his name lit up in my phone, I figured out that, yet again, we were in different places at the same time. On our first date – a Sunday brunch that didn’t end until 10:30 in the evening – we went to separate locations of the same restaurant (I to the original, he to the one most convenient to me — woops). And here we were again, standing at different entrances, probably curious as to why the other is late. Perhaps we were both right on time, but with opposing opinions of where to stand. Isn’t that the case with most encounters that end up mattering?

I found him on the other side and we walked until he picked the beer garden on top of Eataly – something I meant to do this summer, but failed to accomplish. In the winter, it sparkles with white lights, and proved to be surprisingly toasty via heat lamps. As we bantered our way through the menu, ordered a bottle of red wine based merely because it was on special, I listened intently. His stories are feathered at the edges — full of variations in his tone, subtle grins here-and-there and blushing with character. But as much as he moved his hands at dinner or carelessly made light of himself, I could tell he had his ear on me.

Maybe I was biased after he promised his memory was better than mine while walking by the Plaza our first date. Or the fact he actually remembered my preference for orange juice on our second date when we stopped by McDonald’s after my first improv show in the city. Nevertheless, watching his lips as I tried to pay attention to his thoughts as much as I battled my desire to kiss him – I knew that he was taking me in. And more so, he was paying attention.

And this knowledge made me nervous.

I am always the one making observations, it is after all, part of the job of a writer to note other people. The only way I’m able to pen what I do is because I’m continuously anxious to discover the story behind strangers or the loves I know best. But to have my stomach know better than my heart that this new guy was absorbing everything I said (and did) – was rather fascinating. Maybe I’m a little jaded from the revolving door of dudes who don’t live up to expectations, yet thrive on being disappointments – but I was surprised to find a man who actually listened.

And more astonishing, asked more questions than I did. Now, that’s a definite first.

As the check came and went, along with my level-head due to the velvet red wine I happily consumed, I looked across our cozy rod-iron table and thought: what in the world can come out of that mouth next?

I have a present for you, he said, sipping the last bit left in his glass. From Staples. I quizzed him in silence, wrapping my finger around the side of my water, trying to break eye contact, but finding it impossible. Out of his jacket pocket he pulled a notebook no bigger than my hand. You said you like to people watch, right? But you never have a notebook on you. Let’s people watch. Write down anything that comes to mind.

Speechless, I looked down at the notebook – black, with a pink side. Here’s a pen, he continued. Unable to stop smiling – with teeth, not a calculated grin – I met his eyes, only to find him pulling out another notebook. And this is for me to do the same. Or when I notice things about you.

And there, in one of my favorite places in this big city, we started writing: what we saw at the tables near us, the views we witnessed outside the cascading wall of windows, the questions that sat  in the eyes of the soul sitting across from us. We wrote for five minutes (per his instructions), and then we bar hopped. Every once in a while, he’d bring out that notebook and he’d write something, and though he let me read a bit of it at the end of the night, I’m sorry to report my tipsy self was too buzzed to remember much.

Friday is our 7th date (though he says our 8th because the first was blissfully long), and I’ve been trying to think of a name for him since the day he gave me the notebook. He suggested up more than a few ideas, none of which were suitable to him, though he’d probably beg to differ. I thought about Mr. Something – because something is different about him, Mr. Sincerity – since that’s the best word I can use to describe him thus far, Mr. Grin – because that’s what he does the most, but none of them worked in the way my super-critical writing mind thinks, until last night.

When, out of the blue, for no merited reason at all, he sent me a quote that happens to be one of my all-time favorite quotes from my favorite author. He knew of my preferred author, but not of those words. But really that’s one of the things I like the most about him – his words. They are crafted with care, said at the right moment and sometimes strikingly similar to things that have mattered to me that he doesn’t know the reason why, yet. Perhaps he tries or maybe it comes naturally – but like me, he’s a wordsmith. One that doesn’t depend on trickery but on strings tied directly to the heart.

Especially since he knew after two dates that more than I need bandaids and lipstick, receipts from weeks ago and pennies I found on the street, I need a notebook with me, wherever I go. You know, when I notice things about strangers. Or about Mr. Smith.

PS: I was amazed with how many Valentine’s were sent last year from all over the world. Your touching words, your kind sentiments and the way you expressed all the things you hope for, as well as all the things that make you so beautiful – were incredible. I hope you will take a moment to write a Valentine about all the things you love about yourself, all the things in the future you can’t wait to experience and what  self-love means to you. I’ll publish your words – along with a link to your blog, if you blog – on Valentine’s Day. Or if you’d rather be anonymous, that’s fine too.

Go here to submit your Valentine. You deserve it. Tell me how sweet it is to be loved by you.

Every Day a Post, Every Day a Lesson

In coffee shops, uptown a few blocks and here. On my bed, at my desk, on my friend’s phone. At my computer, on Mr. P’s laptop, in Penn Station waiting on a train. Sitting in the airport days before Christmas. In my living room, on the couch, at the kitchen table. In Bryant Park at night, at Columbia University, sitting cross-legged on the cold hardwood floors.

Wrapped up in blankets as the snow came down, while looking out dirty windows at some cafe in Williamsburg as I watched Mr.P concentrate with his tongue out across from me. In a rush, with days to spare, when it was way too rainy to set foot outside. Lounging naked in front of my air conditioner, rushing in after a busy day to beat the clock, standing in the corner on one leg so I could have enough signal in the back of a Southern-themed bar on the Upper West Side.

For the last 364 days, I’ve published this blog from dozens of places.

The ideas and the fodder have been just as diverse. From conversations with friends and family to experiences I’ve had with Mr. P and all the others. While trying to sort through emotions, while watching people in love, people falling apart, people being messy and complicated, as people often are. In dark instances where the world seemed too big, in bright, sunny days that gave me Louie Armstrong memories and made me feel like the world was actually quite small. During times I couldn’t understand and through days where I felt like I had it all figured out. While feeling my heart expand to welcome a possible love in and then while feeling it shrink when feelings weren’t mutual. Through months of feeling lost and uncertain, questioning everything I ever knew, and throughout the hours where everything felt so right that it was scary. When inspired by people I meet or books I read, or places I’ve been or things I’ve seen, but also when nothing at all made me want to write other than knowing I’d regret it at 12:01 a.m.

And now, as I write this, knowing that tomorrow will come and go, that the final post that I’ve yet to write will go live and then the day will pass, I can’t decide if I feel sad or thoroughly impressed with myself. To be honest, it’s probably a bit of both.

My intentions changed as the blog continued, as I progressed and I noticed loyal readers like Larry who comments nearly every day, and girls who remind me of myself, like Katie, Christina and Suzie. Or some beautiful soul who lives where it rains all the time, drinking coffee and giving superb, heartfelt advice. And then there’s the ladies from Tel Aviv and Ms. Lexamantis from South Africa. Or Jenny from Philly who is quite tweety, and Moose Michaels who inspired one of my most well-trafficked blogs. And Dear Ex-Girlfriend who provides cheeky, sarcastic advice from a real dude’s point of view. Or my San Fran gal who is talented and ever-so-kind, even sending me a real-life Valentine. And Kacey, Marlee and Stephanie who update Facebook regularly with cute pictures that remind me of my life in New York. And Lovephool from London and Cat from this city, and Divorcing Mr. Wrong who’s red dress I’d love to borrow. I couldn’t even begin to explain how many more there are, too.

This blog has been my personal journey, but it’s also been the journey of so many people. Most of which, I’ll never meet. But somehow, there is something about being open and honest, allowing my raw emotions and candid thoughts to have an open forum and space for people to relate…that has made LoveAddictNYC.com what it is. It’s the first domain name I’ve ever bought, and it was worth every penny.

I’ve grown so much over the past year, through each of those 12 steps, through all of the changes that have made my current life what it is, and I’m so thankful that others could find comfort in what I wrote. I can now promise without any doubt whatsoever that anything you’ve felt, anything you’ve wondered, anything that’s caused you tremendous pain or any worry you thought was ridiculous about love or about how you look or about being a 20-something…someone else has had too. And someone will again.

Nothing I’ve said on these pages is original or unique, they are just my struggles and my achievements, my analysis of the wonder and the bewilderment that love often brings. They don’t give insight into a true addict’s nature, just into the obsessive and scary dangers of being someone who tries for love, who tries to be their own greatest fan, who tries to be all that they can, and sometimes fails. Without those moments of crazy, we could never have those visions of clarity.

Thank you all for being there with me, for your honesty and your advice. For sharing my work with others, for helping me land my dream job (yes, this blog was part of it!), for sending me Tweets and emails, liking me on Facebook and liking me in real life. For being my friend, even though we may be oceans away. For helping me learn a lesson with ever post I wrote. This journey may be coming to a close in a matter of hours, but you will all forever be part of my journey.

And tomorrow, come back for your final daily visit at 2 p.m. EST.

To Love Myself

A week from today, I’ll post my final post on this blog.

I’ve started to scroll through the archives, reading the first couple of blogs and noting my progress throughout. I’ve noticed where I’ve been sloppy and lazy with not only my writing but the concepts, and some entries are so deep and intense, I don’t even remember writing them. It’s interesting to have a year of my life chronicled on these pages. All of the vulnerability and honesty I’ve felt over the last 365 days, along with some remnants from the past, remind me of all that I’ve been through and how thankful I am to be where I am now.

My birthday is on Friday (guess how old? Anyone?) and I’m finding it difficult to comprehend the 12 months I just experienced. So much has happened and it all went by so fast. I’m not quite where I thought I’d be. I’m actually in such a brighter, happier and more stable position than I could have imagined.

When I started this blog, I didn’t have many friends at all — now I’m so thankful to count many wonderful New Yorkers and transplants as my confidants. When I started this blog, I lived in a miniature room posing as an apartment, where I shared a communal bath with two people — now I live in a lovely four-bedroom with three fabulous roommates and one adorable kitten. When I started this blog, I worked at a business magazine that wasn’t my style — and now I work for NBC, though I won’t reveal which of its properties. When I started this blog, I was happy to be in this city but I hadn’t found my way yet and I didn’t feel like I belonged — now, I know it’s home because it feels like it. When I started this blog, I had just met Mr. Unavailable — now he’s somewhere between Mr. Possibility and returning back to Mr. Unavailable.

When I started this blog, I despised the single life — now I find myself longing for it. When I started this blog, I could count more insecurities than qualities I loved about myself — now I’m confident in who I am, just the way I am.

I don’t know if the 12-steps work, necessarily. I based them off of AA’s program and since I’m not a real “love addict”, I can’t speak for what it really is like to overcome a sincere addiction to relationships. I also have to admit that I didn’t follow too closely to the steps, I just went about them haphazardly, moving onto the next step when it felt right, not by any certain number of days or by checking off growth on a mental checklist. I didn’t do everything I set out to do but I did follow my heart, and I though I waited a while to reveal certain things, I tried to be honest about everything with readers, with my friends, and with myself.

It certainly wasn’t easy.

Writing everyday not only cramped my plans and my style, but it forced me to dig deep into parts of my past and my present that I wasn’t ready to face. I made a commitment to post daily and I had to keep it, no matter what life sprung on me or how much haters wanted to hate. I didn’t allow their opinions to get to me and I stomached my own opinions of myself, no matter how difficult it was to face my own music. I told my story how I saw it, complete with run-on sentences and constant contradictions. I’m not perfect, neither is my writing or my skin, but I’m confident in what I have to offer. And finally, after putting up with lack-luster love, Ialso  know what kind of romance I deserve.

And now, I won’t settle for less. A year ago, I may have stayed in a relationship just for the comfort. I may have continued dating and texting someone just to be entertained, just to have a body to lay next to me. But the space doesn’t need to be filled anymore, by Mr. Possibility or any man, because I actually feel just as secure without it. And if I have to swallow my heart and silence my thoughts to be someone’s girlfriend, I’d rather speak my mind to all who will listen and save that love for someone who can handle it. There are plenty of women who have always felt that way — but it took many prayers and paragraphs for me to reach that peace.

I still find lonely nights, though. I’m still in the middle of preparing myself for a heartache I think we all know will inevitably come. I still have ugly days and fat days, I still don’t always notice all the beauty I have to offer this world. I miss North Carolina sometimes, or at least it’s low prices and simple quietness. I still wonder if it’s in my cards to have a great love and if I’ll be one of the lucky ones who drinks lemonade while swaying in a rocking chair on a wraparound porch with my husband of 50 years. I still tuck away love quotes and photos, and when I’m feeling really down, I browse wedding blogs, torturing myself with visions of wedded bliss.

But now, it doesn’t upset me. It doesn’t break my heart. It doesn’t make me gravel at the base of heaven, begging for a partner so I can feel complete. It isn’t a desperate longing, it’s just a longing. A little voice that reminds me of what I hope for, a padded warmth in my heart that keeps me believing that if I never give up, I’ll find some schmuck who will love me to the ends of the Earth.

I’ll miss writing this blog every day, but part of me will be relieved too. I won’t think in terms of blogging anymore. My thoughts will just be my own, my experiences just adventures, not meant to be written into tangled sentences for the world to read. I’ll revel in the privacy that comes with invisibility, though I’m sure I’ll miss the feedback that always enlightens me. Maybe I’ll take a vacation from blogging but I won’t be gone forever — I’ll come up with something new, something that’ll keep me spirited and fulfilled. I’ll share some other piece of myself, of my viewpoints with the web again.

There really is no end to journeys, not even this one. The 12 steps will pass and the blog will end, but I’ll work every single day, married or single, happily in love or bitterly resentful, with or without children, in Manhattan or out of it, to be the person I want to be. I’ve accepted I’ll never be satisfied, I know happiness is always something you work for, not something that remains forever.

But I’m okay with that. I’d rather work toward the sweetness of happiness than to remain still and stagnant. I’d rather believe in love with all I have then to give up on it. It’s just now I know you don’t have to have love to be happy, and that just because you have love, it doesn’t mean you are happy. They both come and go, but if I work at it, I can always be happy and always have love all at the same time.

Because to love myself…is to be happy.