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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