Hi, my name is Carla, and I am not a Carrie.

OK, let me explain. From the fall of 2004 until, hmm, last week, I lived my life assuming—no, knowing, without a doubt—that I was a Carrie. The curly hair, the disproportionate shoe-to-cookware ratio, the puns. Granted, 90 percent of Sex and the City fans will tell you they’re a Carrie, because to say you’re one of the other ladies from the series is akin to saying you’re a unicorn. It’s like saying you’re based on something real, but are such an egregious exaggeration, you’re just make-believe.

But there’s another reason I saw myself in Carrie’s $400 shoes. And it was Big. (See? Puns!) I too had a star-crossed lover, and could taste the salt in her tears when the on-again, off-again relationship was off, again. Despite our struggle to accept the kind of love our partners were capable of giving, we held on. Years passed, we distracted ourselves with friends, parties and even other boyfriends, but none of them compared. We always ended up back where we started, hoping to make it somewhere new.

Last week, as I fed a two-day birthday-party hangover with PJs and seconds of SATC (puns!!), I finally understood. It was the episode where Aidan, Carrie’s other big love (no pun intended…) moves in, and she tries to deal with having him, and all his affectionate, available love, in every inch of her apartment. Watching Carrie reject his invitation to stay home for a TV-and-take-out date, and instead get dolled up for a (non-romantic) night out with another man, I knew I wasn’t her. Or at least, not anymore. There was a time I would’ve eagerly slipped on my overcoat as my boyfriend slipped into his sweats. Deep as our love was, it didn’t change that we had very separate lives outside each other, and that they were equally—if not more—important to maintain.

I wanted to shout at her, “Are you crazy?! Aidan is adorable and manly and rugged and wants to sit and hold you all night, but you’d rather be out dealing with strangers and long lines for the bathroom?!”

By the end of the episode, Carrie had, of course, “got to thinking” and realized no new bar or old acquaintances could beat a shared bucket of KFC and cozy silence. By the end of the series, though, she winds up with Big, not Aidan. After several seasons’ (and later, spin-off movies’) worth of setbacks, she finally gets the love she was so desperately seeking.

Or does she?

I admit I don’t remember every nuance of the storyline, but I don’t think that matters. What matters is that after a decade of trying to get the kind of love she needs from someone who’s seemingly incapable of giving it to her, she ends up with him, anyway—and ends up happy. We’re led to believe they finally understand each other, and find a way for their different versions of love to meld. And it was right, eventually. So something changed. But what was it?

Later that day, I got to thinking. Does who you’re with change who you are, or does who you are, change who you’re with?

I think I know what each of our answers would be. But they’re not the same.

Hi, my name is Carla, and I am not a Carrie.