An Update From the Real Me

My blog lives a double life. Most of the time it’s a fun, informative guide to living and traveling in Joburg and surrounds. But other times it’s a personal account of what’s happening in my actual life.

A few years ago, when lots of tragic and dramatic stuff was happening to me, I wrote lots of personal posts. After Jon died, I wrote at length about death and addiction and grief. I poured my rawest, most intense feelings into the blog, sometimes not realizing what I’d written until after the post was published.

But I find it harder to be personal on my blog when awesome, happy stuff is happening to me. It’s easy to write about surface-level happy stuff, like co-authoring books and fun blogger trips around South Africa. But all these surface-level happy things are happening for a reason, and that’s what I want to write about even though it’s really hard.

Me

The real me. She hasn’t written enough lately. (Photo: Ray)

A couple of years ago I realized that I wasn’t a complete person. I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted and needed. I was addicted to self-destructive feelings and emotions and I couldn’t make myself happy. I looked fine on the outside but on the inside I was eating myself alive.

Fortunately, unlike most of the people in the world who have this kind of emotional illness, I was able to do something about it. Someone nudged me in the right direction and I decided I wanted to change. I’m not sure how to explain it, but basically I went into emotional rehab. I participated in an intense group therapy program for three-to-four hours a day, five days a week, for four consecutive months. I spent hundreds of hours examining my thoughts and feelings and behavior. I didn’t drink, I didn’t date, and I turned down all social engagements that interfered with my rehab program. I wrote my life story in several dozen hand-written pages. I argued and screamed and cried. My god, I cried a lot.

My family and friends thought I was insane and sometimes I thought so too. I wasn’t sure if any of it would make a difference and for a while it didn’t. But gradually, imperceptibly, a shift began. Things started falling into place in my life — little things and big things. Decisions came more easily. I learned when to say yes and when to say no. I learned to see people for who they are. I learned how to play and have fun. I spent more time feeling peaceful and less time panicking about other people and things over which I had no control.

Most importantly I learned how to make my own happiness, rather than looking for ready-made happiness somewhere else. I lived by myself and hardly dated for more than two years.

Many months ago, my therapist asked me to list the qualities I wanted in a romantic partner. Not lifestyle choices or physical traits, but real personal and emotional qualities. I looked at her blankly and couldn’t think of a single thing. I’d had many relationships in my life — all failed — and never once had I considered what kind of person I want to spend my life with.

I didn’t make a list right then. I thought about it later though. I scribbled my list onto a yellow post-it note and tossed it into the bottom of my bag. Eventually the paper started to disintegrate and I threw it away.

I once read in a book that the best way to get what you want in life is to acknowledge it, write it down, and then forget about it. I guess that’s what I did, without really realizing. And it worked. I honestly feel, this minute, that I have everything in life that I could ever want.

This is all just a long-winded way of saying that I’m really happy. First and foremost, I’m happy because I love my life and I love who I am. And in the midst of discovering that, I found someone.

Ray painting

Part of the person I found.

I have a boyfriend. This is a big deal because I’ve been on my own for a really long time, and I feel happy about it in a way that I’ve never been happy about a relationship before.

I figured I better introduce him for real on the blog because it’s becoming hard to keep him out of my photos.

His name is Ray, and at first he wasn’t sure he wanted his real name and face to appear on 2Summers. But after careful consideration he decided he wants to be revealed.

Ray Wits

Ray.

Ray is a graffiti artist, among other things, and I’ve already written a bit about his work without naming him directly. Graffiti and blogging fit together quite well, as it turns out. I’ll have more to say in the future.

Ray Heather polaroid

Polaroid by Tim Van Rooyen.

HeaterRay

He instagrams, too. (Photo: Tim Van Rooyen)

Welcome, Ray. I’m happy you’re here.

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58 Comments

  • Reply CIndy September 16, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    So happy for you and in awe of your commitment to the hard work of examining your life and taking steps to live authentically. Awesome!

    • Reply 2summers September 16, 2014 at 4:30 pm

      Thanks so much. I appreciate the comment and it’s great to know that you understand what I was trying to say 🙂

  • Reply all-TIM-ate September 16, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Inspiring as always Heather
    Thank you for sharing.

    • Reply 2summers September 16, 2014 at 4:30 pm

      Thanks Tim. I find your blog inspiring too!

  • Reply mvschulze September 16, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    It’s clear to me, the sneakers! (Hello, Ray!)
    Nice to read of your really good place Heather. You’ve been through a lot. M

    • Reply 2summers September 16, 2014 at 4:31 pm

      Thanks. And yes, Ray has awesome sneakers!

  • Reply Ang Lloyd September 16, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    So happy for you my friend. And I can attest to the fact that Ray is super awesome. Enjoy this new-found love and happiness xxx

    • Reply 2summers September 16, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      Thanks Ang, I’m glad you agree.

  • Reply Derek Smith September 16, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    I thought there was something going on as I saw loads of tags and hashtags in instagram posts – love & happiness to Ray & you. I’ve known both of you for a long time in different circles and it is good when worlds collide and merge

    • Reply 2summers September 16, 2014 at 4:28 pm

      Thanks Derek. We were wondering if you’d figured it out yet. 😉

  • Reply LauraV September 16, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    So happy for you (and Ray) Heather, thanks for sharing!

  • Reply margottrommelmans September 16, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    What a honest story. I like : Most importantly I learned how to make my own happiness, rather than looking for ready-made happiness somewhere else. I think that is what we all should be looking for.

    • Reply 2summers September 16, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      Thanks Margot. That was one of the hardest things to learn.

  • Reply Richard September 16, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    Excellent!

  • Reply thirdeyemom September 16, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    Heather this is a beautiful honest post. I am so happy to read it. We all go through struggles in life and what I’ve learned is that you cannot love someone else without loving yourself. Thanks for your honesty and I am so happy for you to find real true love! Wishing you all the best! 🙂

    • Reply 2summers September 16, 2014 at 4:33 pm

      Thanks so much, Nicole. I really appreciate that. I hope you’re doing well.

  • Reply Dave Freeman September 16, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    I’m so very happy for you, Heather! I don’t know anyone who deserves this happiness more! I hope it continues forever!

    • Reply 2summers September 16, 2014 at 4:47 pm

      Thanks Dave. I think it will. I hope you’re happy too 🙂

  • Reply Catherine Caviar September 16, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    delighted for you, you deserve all the happiness in the world!

    • Reply 2summers September 17, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      Thanks Catherine 🙂

  • Reply Rita Agustina September 16, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    I have been in a quite similar situation. It’s nice to know that you made it through it. I think I’m doing it too.

    • Reply 2summers September 17, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      Thanks very much, Rita, and good luck to you. It’s always nice to connect with others who are going through similar things. I’m sure you’ll make it through too.

  • Reply UnderAnAfricanSun September 16, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    Lovely post, so happy for you. Best wishes to you both !

    • Reply 2summers September 17, 2014 at 1:31 pm

      Thanks. Still enjoying your posts!

  • Reply Lungile Zakwe September 16, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    Oh I absolutely enjoyed reading this blog H! Thank you for sharing. And yes Welcome Ray!! 🙂 My friend, you are a beautiful woman and you deserve all the smiles and sparkles in the world! Happy for you! 🙂 xxx

  • Reply Eugenia A Parrish September 16, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    Hello Ray! Thanks from a stranger for being a part of Heather’s happiness. I learned a long time ago not to require or expect others to supply my happiness, so of course that’s when I finally began to find it, in myself and others. I’m ‘old’ now [just learned I’m going to be a great-grandmother in the spring, and I don’t feel a day over forty — except when I first get up in the morning] so it’s wonderful to see your young faces together. Best wishes and I hope to ‘see’ more of you, Ray.

    • Reply 2summers September 17, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      Thanks so much, Eugenia. I wish that both Ray and I could meet you in person because you seem like a really cool lady.

  • Reply Matthew Figueira (@MatthewFig) September 16, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    <3

  • Reply Carol September 16, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    Amazing. All happiness.

    • Reply 2summers September 17, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      Thanks Carol. Hope you’re doing well!

  • Reply clifford els September 16, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Awesome. I love happy people. And graffiti artists.

    • Reply 2summers September 17, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      Thanks Clifford. By the way, I’ve heard very nice things about you from your daughter 🙂

  • Reply Sheryl R September 16, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Thanks for your honesty Heather, as always great to read your blog! I am very proud of you!

    • Reply 2summers September 17, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      Thanks for everything, Sheryl.

  • Reply Sunshinebright September 16, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    Strength and happiness. What a great combo! So happy for you both. 🙂

  • Reply MiaMusings September 16, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    So great to know about you and Ray! Was the graffiti on your b’day from him? Must say – a really special gift 🙂 wish you guys lots of happiness.

    • Reply 2summers September 17, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      Thanks Mia. Yep, that was him 🙂

  • Reply Tricia September 17, 2014 at 4:22 am
  • Reply amelie88 September 17, 2014 at 6:59 am

    It’s so great to see you are doing so well. I started following your blog not long after Jon died and I was surprised how candid you were about it. You don’t have to apologize for not sharing your feelings enough or for not sharing them at all. But it’s nice to know things are good. Ray seems like an appropriate name for your guy–ray of sun etc, it’s corny I know. Was he considering a pseudonym for your blog too?

    • Reply 2summers September 17, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      THat’s funny Amelie — some of my friends have actually been calling Ray “Sunshine”. His graffiti name is Bias so that would have been his default pseudonym. But he elected to go public 🙂

  • Reply Gill September 17, 2014 at 9:05 am

    It is wonderful to have a new beginning. Go well. Have ecstatic times.

    • Reply 2summers September 17, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      Haha, thanks Gill. Many ecstatic times to come, I’m sure.

  • Reply Firefly - Jonker September 17, 2014 at 10:29 am

    I’m so happy that you are happy and like you say, not just in what you do but also in your personal life. Now Ray is out there and you can include him in pictures as often as you want. Wishing you all the best.

  • Reply Ben September 17, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Isn’t it great when you read/speak to someone who ‘gets it’, by which I mean finally worked out what makes them happy and spends the rest of their life following that rather than someone else’s dream.

  • Reply Paula September 20, 2014 at 7:30 am

    love, love, love

  • Reply Roy Potterill (@roywrench) September 24, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    I can see his underpants. Glad Ray makes you happy H Dawg! Miss you x

    • Reply 2summers September 26, 2014 at 9:13 am

      Aw, thanks Rooi. And don’t miss me too much — we still see each other all the time 🙂

  • Reply Slowvelder September 25, 2014 at 9:50 am

    I am so behind on my blog reading – so it’s taken me a while to catch up. I am so happy for you Heather. You deserve every moment of joy. Welcome Ray 🙂

    • Reply 2summers September 26, 2014 at 9:06 am

      Thanks so much, Jackie. I hope you’re doing well too!

  • Reply SusanB June 24, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    In writing about how you got from there to here you’ve helped this person take a step towards helping herself. Thank you.

    • Reply 2summers June 24, 2015 at 9:46 pm

      Thanks Susan 🙂 🙂

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