[Ed. Note: This is the actual message I sent to most everyone I knew, letting them know what had just happened.]
Today, I completed two of the most traumatic experiences of my life. One was leaving Radical Entertainment, and saying goodbye to the friends that I made. The second was leaving Allison, thus ending a period of extreme hardship. I’ve set out to find myself.
Yes, this sounds quite dumb — isn’t the whole “finding one’s self” a tired topic by this day and age? Normally, I’d say yes. But in this case, I beg to differ. I lost myself two years ago in a relationship I’ve never really been happy with. I need to rediscover who I’m meant to be.
For roughly two years, I’ve been in an abusive relationship. This is something that has taken me over two months to understand. I’ve been through a lot of pain and mental anguish. Though Allison never laid a finger on me in anger (save for one incident, where she was in severe pain from illness, and lashed out at the nearest person — me), she was a surgeon with her words. They cut deep and never let me heal. More times than I can remember, she took me down, took me apart, and laid me in utter ruins.
Having been through this so many times, it got to the point where it was normal, and I believed I was happy. This is what psychology refers to as the “cycle of abuse”. It’s one of the most misunderstood issues in psychology, and one of the hardest to treat. Generally, the victim only gets better when they realize that there’s something wrong, and they’re not willing to take it any more. Typically, the victim will leave their abuser.
It’s not a simple case for me, however. Outside of my friends from work, I know no-one else in the Lower Mainland. All of my friends are Allison’s, and as soon as I left her, they probably turned against me. By the end of today, my name is most likely mud in the Lower Mainland.
That is why I’ve left Vancouver forever.
This was something that I started a few weeks ago, when I started to come out of the haze that I’d been living for two years. I realized what was happening to me, and that I had to get out.
I enlisted help. You can’t do things like this without it. I brought certain people into this whom I could trust implicitly. I kept all my plans almost entirely secret — anyone told of the plan was also sworn to secrecy. I wanted to tell all of you, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that Six Degrees of Separation is a real thing — and I couldn’t let Allison know I was leaving.
No, she didn’t know. I couldn’t let her know. Had Allison found out, I doubt I would be where I am now. I would probably be still in Vancouver, languishing in the limelight of abuse. This was a future I did not want.
I first asked Stuart, one of my best friends. It wasn’t even an issue — Stuart was ready. I then asked Greg, one of my co-workers, and probably one of my closest friends in the Lower Mainland. I asked him only to help me pack the truck with my things. He went one further and offered to help drive.
This was a good thing — Stuart had to pull out a few days later after his company hit him with a huge project and a tight deadline. I got Joel, another co-worker and friend, to help me pack.
Tuesday was one of the longest days of my life. The last 10 minutes at Radical were the hardest. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to continue working there. But I had to say goodbye to my co-workers … to my friends. I nearly broke down crying several times. But the one that still brings tears to my eye was when I said goodbye to Neall.
Neall maintains “The List”. It’s a list of all the veteran Radical employees (circa November 1998), sorted by start date. Whenever someone leaves (or even when the rumour of them leaving starts), he strikes them from The List. The List keeps track of where certain people sit in seniority.
When I said my farewells to Neall, he informed me that he had not taken my name off The List. When asked why, he told me it was that he respected me too much to remove it. It took everything I had not to break down in tears. Never before have I ever felt so accepted in my life.
Greg and Joel helped me pack the truck — they took the boxes and bags down while I filled more boxes and bags. By 8:15, we were ready to leave. I left Allison a note (she was at French class), left my keys, and we hit the road.
We dropped Joel off at his home before Greg and I continued. I learned more about Joel in the trip from my apartment to his home than I ever thought possible. It made it all the harder to say goodbye. I found myself asking how much heartbreak I could subject myself to in one night.
Greg and I continued to Merritt, through dense fog, rain, drizzle, and blinding snow. We stayed the night, and continued this morning. We arrived here late this afternoon, at which time I took Greg to see a friend.
I dropped Greg off there. I didn’t want to leave — Greg was my last tie to Radical, to my friends. But I had to leave. I had to say goodbye to him. Never before has someone done something so selfless for me. His and Joel’s help I will never forget. As I will never forget my friends in Vancouver.
Where I’m going is up for debate. Some of you know where I’m going, and for now that is the way it will remain. I’ll open up a little more in the not-too-distant future, but for now I’m keeping low and staying quiet. It’s nothing personal, folks, I just want to be alone for a while. I need time to recover and try to rebuild a life. But I will keep in touch — I promise.
Take care, and I’ll be talking to you soon.
“One day I’ll be a beautiful butterfly!”
— Heimlich, A Bug’s Life