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Born Again

Trigger warning: Talk about suicide.

A year ago I was sitting in the departure lounge at the airport in Halifax, about to board an eight-hour flight across the country to my home in Vancouver, when my partner of nearly four years sent me a text.

It was brief, and vague, but the gist was she was leaving me. In fact, she'd be moved into another man's apartment by the time my plane landed.

I recognize it's unhealthy to dwell on this stuff and I've really tried not to and #ProjectNomad is proof of that.

But a year has passed and I'm not sure I'm in any better shape than I was as I boarded that plane.

The fateful text was not entirely unexpected, but mostly it was. I'd been on the road for the last two weeks, and when I'd left, I'd believed my partner and I were in the best place we'd ever been in our relationship.

I was making plans to buy the engagement ring.

The next time I saw my partner after I left Vancouver, she was disembarking a plane in Prince Edward Island to spend the week with me and my family. Her flight was late; she arrived at three in the morning.

Her face blanched when she saw the flowers I'd brought her.

What followed was an excruciating few days at the family cottage. Something was clearly wrong, but my partner couldn't or wouldn't articulate what.

It transpired that she'd spent the last week at another guy's cottage with him and his family, though she denied that had anything to do with her and I.

She'd always been standoffish toward my parents, but that visit, she was downright rude. She was clearly in distress about the state of our relationship, but she said she didn't want to break up.

We agreed when she left the Island, and over text, that we would talk about things more when I got back to Vancouver, and maybe get couples' counselling.

I thought we were good, until I got to the airport.

I landed in Vancouver that night and Lucy was there and my friends came over and we drank all weekend. On Monday, my partner came over to pick up her stuff, and we talked for a while and she still couldn't articulate *why* she was leaving, but she left nonetheless.

A friend came over to help her pack up her stuff and I watched them go and we were civil and then I went up to my apartment and the reality hit me.

She'd taken the expensive Phillips Hue lightbulbs I'd bought her, which was fine, but she'd left me with no replacement bulbs, so the apartment was dark.

She'd taken every spoon in the house. For some reason, that stuck with me.

I'd brought spoons into the relationship, damn it.

I sat on my bed in my dark, spoonless apartment, and I felt nothing but empty hopelessness.

I'd known my partner for six years. I'd probably been in love with her for five of them. I'd built a life with her, around her, for her.

I'd invested a lot of myself in helping her battle her demons. I'd stood by her through addiction, dishonesty, infidelity. I'd believed her when she told me we'd grow old together.

I just couldn't see starting over again.

I made a noose just to see how it felt.

I spent that night under observation in the emergency ward at the hospital in which I was born, St. Paul's in Vancouver.

Not necessarily because I was going to kill myself, but because one or two of my friends--and, later, the Vancouver Police Department--feared I might.

I might have, had my friend Alexis not been there to keep an eye on me.

The VPD officers with whom I dealt were compassionate, professional and funny. I regretted that my selfish actions had taken them away from the city's needier citizens.

My experience in the ER was alternately boring and humiliating. I have no one to blame but myself.

My friend Alexis sat with me through the night and into the morning.

In the morning, two things happened. I was interviewed by a psychiatric resident and, later, another psychiatric resident who seemed to be in charge of the first.

I tried not to be dishonest but I was also aware that these men could have me committed for days or even weeks, so I made it clear to them that I wasn't going to hurt myself.

The second thing that happened was that my partner showed up.

If I'd hoped to see regret or love or even compassion in her eyes, I was quickly disavowed of the notion. From the look in her eyes, it was clear she was disgusted that I'd dragged her into the whole situation.

"You know this is over, right?" she asked me, and at that moment, I did.

I haven't seen her since.

For a while I entertained the fantasy that she'd get in touch, to explain why she'd left or apologize or hell, even come back. But she never did.

She hasn't once asked after Lucy, whom she picked out and we adopted together, at her suggestion. Either she doesn't care or she does; who knows.

My friends and family assure me I dodged a bullet, and I guess I believe them. Certainly my partner was rude to my parents and a bully to my friends. She could be manipulative and, arguably, abusive.

Hindsight.

In the moment, I believed we could work through that stuff together. I believed there were no problems we couldn't solve between the two of us.

I understand she's dating a professional race car driver now. I've heard unkind things said about him, but he's wealthy.

Maybe they'll adopt another dog.

It's easy to feel bitter. And I know that I was far from perfect and there's plenty that I regret saying and doing. I own that stuff, but I didn't give up.

A year has passed, and I haven't dated anyone, or kissed anyone, or slept with anyone. This is by choice; I simply can't see the margin in giving myself to another person again.

I don't believe that love is real in a romantic sense, or if it is that it lasts forever.

I don't want to be hurt again.

But you can't sit around by yourself all the time. I was hoping to get my career in order before I started trying to date again, but no luck on that front.

So I'm on Tinder again.

And I'm off antidepressants. I'm hoping to shed the comfortable complacency that has made me happy enough being lonely, and unproductive.

I'm hoping I'll date more, and write more, off the Prozac.

I survived thirty years without my partner. Without antidepressants. I built a career. It's time to go back to being that guy again.

Whatever the downsides, I'll take 'em.