My whole life I felt a deep sense of insecurity. No matter how old I was or how good I felt, there was always someone I compared myself to, someone else I wished I was. The moments of being comfortable with who I was were few and far in between.
So what better way to reinvent yourself than to start fresh? I’d always imagined myself living on the West Coast. I wanted the mountains, the fresh air, the big green city, and the ocean -- all of it. I felt a sort of gravitational pull.
One day in April, I came home and told my partner “We are moving to Vancouver.” It took me months of convincing to finally get him on the same page, but by the time we left, he was pretty excited too.
I told all my family and friends that I was moving out there. I made it really official and even had several going away parties. I spent my whole summer bad-mouthing the city I currently live in, to make sure that I was justified in what I was doing -- especially in the face of people who didn’t understand why we wanted to move and were selfishly trying to hold us back.
The night before we left, I cried because I would miss my home and my family. Having moved over seven times in my life, including coming from Romania when I was only 10, I knew it would take some getting used to, but I felt capable.
Despite having serious anxiety and depression issues in the past, I just shrugged it off and thought to myself that I was on medication and not the same person anymore. Once we made it to Vancouver after four days of driving through the U.S., the first thought I had was "I’m home."
At first sight, everything spoke to me. The city was stunning, the mountains were gorgeous. As soon as we arrived at our friend’s house where we were staying for a while, I wanted to go for a walk and breathe it all in. I started to think, "Wow, we actually did it." I was proud of myself.
Jeff called his new boss. He was excited to start the job, because it was something he really wanted to do.
Then things took a turn for the worst. Something inside of me broke -- a light went out, a cord snapped, a demon took over -- and to this day I don’t know if it can ever be repaired.
We were having B.C. sushi for dinner, and I felt a lump in my throat. I started to feel my tears take form as I excused myself and went in the backyard to cry. I’m not a crier. I usually cry about twice a year if that. I was standing in the backyard, which somehow seemed enchanted with the rain drizzling down, and the fresh wind blowing, my arms crossed, crying. I told myself this was normal, and it would pass. Jeff came outside to comfort me. He smiled and hugged me and said "Look, we’re fine, you don’t have to be upset, this is our home now."
He was very sweet.
The next night we were driving around, and he wanted to show me where his new job would be. I suddenly burst into tears and panic. I felt like I stopped breathing. I thought I was going to have a heart-attack. The only thing I could say was "I can’t do this."
I told him to get me to the hospital. I managed to get out the words "I made a huge mistake I’m so sorry." He held my hand really tightly and I saw a tear run down his cheek. That was the single absolute worst moment of my entire life. The last thing I wanted to do was hurt my best friend. We’ve been together for a long time and in a way grew up together.
I spent the next few days trying to push through it, trying to try, because there is no reward without risk, right? Then I realized I am tired of trying. I am tired of all the mental and emotional struggles I’ve been through. I am tired of moving, tired of pushing through things, and most of the time just tired of life.
Throughout this, Jeff kept reassuring me that he could have his old job back and no one would care if we came back –- in fact they’d be happy. He told me, "Who cares what people think?" Things would go back to the way they were.
What I felt in Vancouver, I couldn’t even describe it if I tried. I wanted to be dead.
I wanted what my friends had. They were young, had decent jobs, lived in a great place, and were living very active lifestyles. They were the epitome of what Vancouver was all about. I wanted to be that person -- to show that you can take risks and that change is good.
Most of my true friends were very supportive of me -- they told me that it just wasn’t meant to be, and if it doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t feel right. They told me that I didn’t do anything wrong when I tried to explain to them how guilty I felt, and how I wished I was stronger or mentally healthy enough.
I’m still haunted by what-if’s, still think about what happened and what I could have done differently. Memories of moving here from Romania flash in my mind, how hard it was, how depressed and suicidal I was for about four years, how much the kids bullied me and how badly I wanted to go home.
But I didn’t, I stayed. And I wouldn’t change that for the world -- I love living in Canada. I am grateful for that every day. But I am tired.
If I had stayed in Vancouver, I’m sure eventually things would have been great, but I honestly felt like I’d end up committed in a hospital by then. It’s devastating to plan something carefully for three months and then see it destroyed in just a few days time. I didn’t plan for this at all.
Jeff understood how I felt despite never having experienced anxiety in his life. He was sad too because he started to really like our new home -- but he loved me more. Once we started heading back, I realized how lucky I truly was and that few partners would quit their job, and leave their family and friends 4000 kilometers away, only to come back a week later. I felt like I was on the verge of losing the most important person in my life, but somehow I didn’t. He stood by me throughout my entire screw-up. Not many people would have stood by what I did.
However awful I feel about this whole experience, I like to think that I have a small glimmer of hope, that I will be capable of great things one day. Quitting is just the realization that something doesn’t feel right, and I’d like to believe that it takes strength to stand up and say "This is not for me, however wonderful it may be for you."