Boy, it has been a long time coming, and I am so happy it's all over. It has been a rough road, full of ups and downs, scrutiny and negativity.
What I will say is that I have found the positives to focus on amidst all the speculation and hate. People don't know what it's like to go through an experience like this, and until they have been a contestant – or the person in the driver's seat – I say, "Take it easy, because you aren't speaking from personal experience."
We have all decided to put ourselves out there in hopes of love, and we all know love can be messy.
The final few days of this adventure were nerve-wracking, exciting and just plain crazy. Having to say goodbye to Nicki the week prior was the hardest moment of my journey thus far. She really is one of the most genuine women I have ever met, and I have nothing but the upmost respect for how she conducts herself on a daily basis. She is a true class act.
The women I had left were very different, but very similar. They are both confident and independent women, who have been providing for themselves for a long time. I found that to be a huge turn-on.
My relationships with these women were oddly similar, too. I had good feelings about these two women on the first night – and despite what everyone has witnessed on TV, they are both really great ladies.
Lindzi Is 'Incredible'There hasn't been a lot of coverage of who Lindzi really is, and I want to say that she is incredible. My hope for us was that she would have continued to stay open with me, but every time we got close to really falling deeply in love, she retracted. I couldn't take the risk of that happening during a relationship after the show, especially after everything I have already been through.
Our last few dates together were wonderful, but I think we both knew we were forcing it a bit.
Nick Ray / ABC
I now look back on my experience on The Bachelorette and realize how difficult a time Ashley had, and respect her decisions to this day. I hope that Lindzi can forgive me and will feel the same way in time.
Courtney. Oh, Courtney. What a road it has been for the two of us – especially her. It was really difficult watching this season and hearing all the negativity about her. I saw a much different side to her and that is the side I fell in love with.
I will admit, over the course of the season airing, I had my doubts about the woman I proposed to. I wouldn't have done anything differently, but I was scared that maybe I didn't know her as well as I thought I did. I found myself shocked at some of the comments she made.
At one point the pressure became too much and I told her I needed a break. Courtney was cool enough to allow me time to clear my head. I became worried about staying in a relationship that had so much negativity surrounding it, so I eventually called off the engagement and we broke up.
Fortunately, that breakup didn't last long. The love I feel for her, love that I couldn't deny even amidst all the bad press and lack of public support, brought me back to her.
There Is 'True Love'What I would hope from people at this juncture is that they see there is a true love. Trust in me to make calculated decisions, and know that I wasn't blinded by anything along the way. She truly is a caring, nurturing woman who is so thoughtful and kind.
Unfortunately, America only got to see one side of her, but I know she loves me in a way that I want to be loved.
Ralph Freso / ABC
I am completely confident in the decision I made at the end of The Bachelor, and I stand behind that decision. No regrets.
All in all, I would like to thank all of the women who were a part of this crazy ride. I don't harbor any negative feeling towards these women, and I hope the same for them towards me. It was a crazy journey, and I am thankful for everyone involved.