I Am Actually Living Carrie Bradshaw’s Life – But Here’s What’s Different

Author’s own image. @selfcarewarrior

One of the most common complaints I see about Sex and the City is how “unrealistic” it is. And certainly, there are many unrealistic and problematic facets of the show. But the truth is, in 2016, I began living a life that was very similar to Carrie Bradshaw’s – kind of. I am a twenty-something writer who lives alone in Manhattan, in a dream apartment with a doorman and even an (albeit far smaller than Carrie’s!) walk-in closet. I went through a lot of adversity to get to where I am today. But unlike Carrie, I left my Mr. Big for good.

I’ve never had a delightfully salacious banner on a bus, but my income comes from my words alone – my books, along with articles as supplementary income. I am a self-made woman in that I don’t rely on anyone other than myself for the money I need to live on my own and enjoy my life in New York. And while I am not technically a “sex columnist,” I do write about dating, relationships, sex (occasionally) and of course, the topic I am most passionate about speaking about because it affects millions of people around the world –  narcissistic abuse.

Photograph of author. Taken by Vera Varley.

Of course, there are huge differences between Carrie Bradshaw and me (aside from the fact that she owns more glamorous shoes). First of all, I am a woman of color, so I’ve had to navigate structural inequalities and the adversity that comes with those of my whole life, including racialized bullying at a very young age.

I’ve had to endure feeling invisible and diminished in countless stages of my life, yet far too visible to predators. I’ve grown up in some pretty tough neighborhoods. I’ve experienced numerous terrors and unbelievable cruelty, some of which I still haven’t touched upon in my written work.

From Adversity to Triumph

The life I lead now and the environment around me now looks very different from the way my life was in the past. I channeled all I went through into my writing and into a larger mission to help those who have experienced what I have.

There’s a lot more peace, freedom, abundance and safety to the life I’ve created for myself after these trials and tribulations. Once I became financially independent and followed my authentic dreams, I was able to escape some pretty dangerous and damaging environments – and found myself in unbelievably amazing ones.

Leave Your Mr. Big and Pursue Your Dreams

Shahida on Steps of Sex and the City Apartment
Author on the steps of Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment from Sex and the City in the West Village.

Like Carrie, I’ve had my share of emotionally unavailable men and even a few narcissistic ones. I’ve also had my share of adventurous dates and epic romances, as well as some whirlwind courtships. And…a few “Mr. Bigs.”

And so, here’s the thing about Mr. Big. He’s charismatic, but he’s also an emotionally unavailable and toxic character with some serious issues. Yet he’s been glorified and romanticized to the point where young women who idealize the relationship between him and Carrie have internalized this idea that love is pain.

(Fun fact: I actually have met Chris Noth, the actor who played Mr. Big, at a local Starbucks and asked him to autograph my copy of Dante’s Inferno because I didn’t have anything else for him to autograph. He told me Purgatory was better.)

See, Carrie stayed with her Mr. Big. I left all of mine.

So instead of the tumultuous fairytale romance that eventually ended happily in marriage (or so it seems), I chose to create my own happy ending. I chose solitude and the potential for healthy love over a toxic relationship.

Once I freed myself from the shackles of partners who tried to deter me from following my dreams and becoming all that I could be, I opened myself up to a new life of infinite possibilities.

View from author’s rooftop. @selfcarewarrior

Now I get to wake up, go to the rooftop of my building and enjoy the beautiful city views – a city I went to school in but never imagined living in the heart of. Now I get to sit in my resident’s lounge by the pool and write, with no one (at least in real life) trying to diminish my dreams. Instead of silencing my voice, now I get to use my story for the greater good and speak to millions of survivors just like me.

@selfcarewarrior

Rather than catering to the needs of toxic people, I can dance around my apartment and bask in the beautiful lights of my courtyard. I can spend time taking care of myself. I can attend a yoga class in my building’s gym while watching the sun set, or jog on the treadmill while staring at skyscrapers in the distance. I can go out with girlfriends or enjoy a night in – without having to answer to anyone.

On the steps of Columbia University.

Like Carrie, I can walk around taking in the beauty of Manhattan in uncomfortable but gorgeous heels – or, more realistically, some cozy flats. I can enjoy being alone and not having to depend on anyone else for validation or approval.

I am beyond grateful for the luxury and joy that I am able to experience now – especially after going through a lifetime’s worth of turmoil and pain. It took me a long time to even dare to take up space or to feel like I was important or that my voice mattered. 

But now I know I am worthy of all that life has to offer. And so are you, reader, however browbeaten, bullied, or torn down you might feel right now. You are absolutely deserving of chasing your dreams and having them come to life, no matter what you’ve gone through.

No matter who tried to make you feel invisible or made you feel not good enough, you are more than enough and you are so valuable. There is a beautiful life after adversity and trauma. There are miracles awaiting you, wherever you are now, and whoever you are. Whether you want to be a writer or a singer or a professional chef or a kickass mama. Know that everything and anything is possible. Know that you are capable of creating whatever it is your soul longs for and desires.

If you’re in a toxic relationship right now, just know that there is a better life possible for you. You are worthy of the happiness that life has to offer. You are deserving of healthy love and self-love. You are worthy of infinite abundance and success. You will be okay by yourself. In fact, who knows what you can accomplish when there’s no one stopping you?

There is an even bigger (pun intended) and more beautiful life ahead of you after your own Mr. Big. So don’t be afraid to take the leap, to take the risk of paving your own path back to freedom. Don’t be afraid of doing it alone (or with some fabulous girlfriends) either. In the words of the famous sex columnist herself, “The most exciting, challenging, and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.” TC mark

Shahida Arabi

Shahida is the author of Power: Surviving and Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse and the poetry book She Who Destroys the Light. She is a staff writer at Thought Catalog.

A Book For Those Recovering From Narcissistic Abuse…

Remember— highly manipulative people don’t respond to empathy or compassion. They respond to consequences.

“I rarely write reviews but I’m so impressed by this book, I can’t recommend it enough for anyone who has suffered abuse by a narcissist or is trying to get out of an abusive relationship now. You deserve the best and more… so I strongly encourage you to get this book!” — Michelle Spurling

“This book was life changing. It completely validated everything from my experiences (suicide, anxiety, depression, “neediness”, literally everything). It took every detail from my past struggles and validated and helped make sense of everything. It’s like I was reading my own biography.” — Drew Rod

Read on Amazon

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