“When Quinn first found me, I was mentally in a very rough place. As I approached August, I knew that I didn’t want to be around much longer. My kids were starting school soon, so I wanted them to have a good first week, but I planned on ending my life the Friday after their first Monday of school. In fact when Quinn messaged me that Sunday, there was a letter to my children in the top drawer of my dresser, already filled out and sealed in an envelope addressed to them.
When I was 20 years old I lost my leg in an industrial accident involving heavy machinery. While outwardly I carried on like a champ and never let on that anything was wrong, my personal worth plummeted. I was convinced that no one would ever want to be with me again, especially after the girl I had been talking to broke it off with me before I was even out of the hospital because “I liked you better when you had both your legs.“
I dated haphazardly for about a year, had one girl literally clap at me because I took too long going up some stairs while I was still remastering how to do so with a prosthetic leg. I had another girl get up halfway through the first date right after I told her I was missing my leg. There was another girl make it all the way to date three and then the moment that we started to get intimate and my pants came off, she saw the leg and freaked out. There was no fourth date. There was no sex, either. So a month after my one year accident anniversary when I started dating a woman who had numerous red flags immediately, and honestly didn’t treat me the best even early on, but seemed to accept my leg, I was sold. We were married about a year later.
Very quickly the constant arguing turned to blatant fighting just to fight. Over the years this progressed. During our eight year marriage she would be mentally, emotionally and physically abusive to me. She put her hands on me all the time, and then would belittle me and antagonize me for not hitting her back. “I want a real man. I want someone who will put me in my place.” She left bruises all over my body, and at one point I had to call out of work for a week due to a massive bruise she put on the left side of my face. She isolated me from all of my friends and family, cutting me off from my own parents for over six months at one point. Forced me into quitting two different jobs years apart for different reasons. She would constantly accuse me of cheating on her, to the point that I would have to call her from work numerous times throughout my shifts in order to prove that I was actually there. She also liked to wait until my prosthetic was off to attack me, knowing I would be even less likely to be able to defend myself. She permanently chipped my tooth after punching me with her wedding ring one time, and threw me off the back of the couch another time when I was sitting up on it with my feet kinda on the seat area. Way too many things to count.
As the years went on I finally did start fighting back, which I know is wrong but simultaneously, how many times are you supposed to let someone put hands on you before you finally start defending yourself..? After eight years I honestly saw no way out other than the ultimate way out. I felt like if I left her it would destroy me financially, as well as make me look like the bad guy since nobody knew about the turmoils of our relationship. She’d done an amazing job of hiding it, and I had also hid it simply out of embarrassment. Plus the stigma of the dad who walks out on his children… it was all too much. So I was ready to just hit reset. I believe in reincarnation, and figured I would close my eyes for one final time this life, and then start over again with a clean slate hopefully in a better life.
The timing and the way that Quinn found me was nothing short of miraculous. I run a small YouTube channel about my life as an amputee. My 911 call went viral several years ago, and has continued to garner me a lot of attention over the past few years. A much bigger channel did a story about my 911 call and my YouTube channel itself, and on the Sunday night before my kids started school, Quinn happened to stumble onto their video by complete chance. From there she made her way to my channel, where she became enamored with me after watching several of my videos. She messaged me that night, and while we messaged a little bit via YouTube and Facebook messenger, we did not talk on the phone until my overnight shift very late Monday night/Tuesday morning. I don’t know what it was, but the moment that I heard her voice on the phone, I knew that I needed to stick around. I don’t think you could call it love at first sight, but love at first hearing? Whatever, by the end of the call, I was in love. When Friday came, the thought of suicide was no longer even in my mind. My wife picked what she didn’t know would be our final fight on Friday afternoon, and I told her I wanted a divorce Friday night.
It was very early on that we discussed the logistics of Quinn being in Canada and me living in Florida. We knew it was going to be difficult to maneuver, but we were willing to give it a try. At the time I was still struggling mentally, was drinking heavily, and was living a relatively reckless lifestyle. I was no longer suicidal, but I also didn’t care if I lived or died. I was absolutely correct; initially everyone was aghast at what appeared to be the sudden and unprovoked dismissal of my wedding vows, and I was painted to be the bad guy. Add in “the other woman“ and I was also a cheater. So I was painted to be a cheater who left his entire family for some floozy home-wrecker. Disregard the fact that I still saw my kids on a daily basis, was still involved with their schooling, was still coming over regularly to tuck them in or give them baths, have dinner with them, or take them out. It didn’t matter. As far as anyone was concerned, I had left them when I left my ex. This really messed with me mentally and I felt completely alone.
I remember about a month into our relationship, Quinn called me around 2:30 am while I was in a McDonalds after leaving the bar I frequented, and told me that it was time for me to head home. I was being stubborn and refused to call a cab, but she told me if I got in my car and drove she wouldn’t tolerate it. I ended up walking over 5 miles home, with her on the phone with me the entire way. That was one of the very last times I ever went out to get drunk.
Since being with Quinn, my life has changed drastically. She turned all of my dark days into happy ones, gave me something to smile about, and taught me to love myself, which was a concept I was very unfamiliar with. I remember the first time we met in person, I nearly cried in the airport. It was only 2 1/2 months after we first started talking, but when we saw each other it felt like we had known each other for an eternity.
I actually did cry around the fourth day of us being together, in fact it was more of a full blown panic attack, because we had been together for four days and hadn’t had a fight yet, and I was overwhelmed at the thought of it happening, and just wanted to get it out of the way so we could continue having our good week together. She asked me why I even thought we were going to have a fight, and I explained that I was honestly struggling to process that I could spend four days with her and have not had a fight yet. I told her that I had not gone more than two days without having a fight with my ex in so many years that I couldn’t really remember it being any other way, and I guess a part of me had become wired to believe that this was how things went. She calmly asked me if I wanted to fight with her, and when I said no, she kissed me and said “Well I have no desire to fight with you either, so stop this nonsense.” The really cool thing is during this week, she confided in me that as silly as it might sound, she had actually fallen in love with me the very first time we spoke on the phone. She told me this before I had ever told her that the same thing had happened to me.
International relationships are not easy, but they’re not too bad if you do it properly. Long 10 hour phone calls, video chats, handwritten letters and random care packages, etc. Coordinated date nights where you cook the same food while on the phone together and then eat together on video chat. These are all things that can make the distance disappear. Plus, we are two of the lucky ones as far as long distance relationships are concerned, as we get to see each other on a monthly basis. In fact, starting the first time that we met, we had actually seen each other for at least a week out of every single month afterwards. Covid put a temporary end to that, with the Canadian/US border being closed. That was definitely rough. They closed the border about a week and a half after Quinn went back to Canada, and about 2 and a half weeks before I was supposed to head up there for a 3 1/2 week stay. During my time up there we were supposed to be celebrating her 25th birthday as well as Easter a few days later, so missing that added a double sting to the situation. The border remained closed into early May, when she was supposed to come down to Florida for my 30th birthday. So that was another event missed. Luckily, she was able to come down at the end of May, as they opened the border for air travel for Canadian citizens to fly to the States, even though US citizens still cannot fly to Canada. She stayed with me from the end of May all the way through until July 20.
At the end of it all, I wouldn’t change a thing. I call her Skittles as a nickname. It stemmed from an inside joke, but it’s also secretly because Skittles candies are every color of the rainbow, and Quinn is my rainbow at the end of the rainy part of my life that’s just dawning into the beginning of a beautiful, sunny one. We’re a few weeks away from our one year anniversary, and when I look back at where I was a year ago, it seems like an entirely different life. If she hadn’t messaged me that Sunday night, I don’t even like to think about what would currently be. Or not be, for that matter. I owe my life to this woman, and I’m very aware that without her, I would not be here anymore.