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The Worst Road Trip

I write a lot about what's going on now, but I was reminded of a funny-not so funny story this weekend so I thought I would bring you along memory lane, the lane leads to terrible dates. There are definitely enough for a book.

We had been dating for about four months. He was intense, the relationship was tense. Everything about this guy was dramatic. Without using real names we will call him Datt.

Datt was a few years older, had been around the relationship block more than I and was devilishly good looking to me, at the time.

He had two daughters from his first marriage and had been a year out of his second by the time we met. I was about a month and a half in, just enough to be hooked into his intensity, that I learned he was still reeling from the woman who was the catalyst to ending the second marriage. It was another two months that I learned that cheating ended every relationship he had been in. I was going to be different, right?

How many of us have thought that?

The woman from the affair was a mess by all accounts that he had shared. Have you ever heard of the phrase, "Birds of a feather"? And another phrase called "I turned a blind eye"?

One fit him, the other fit me.

But I'm not going to sugar coat my state of insecurity, I wanted to be with someone. Even if that meant the someone would drink at least 4 double scotch and waters a night, who's ex-mistress emailed me, who sought relationship advice from his 14 year old daughter and who had a tendency to say on more than one occasion "you haven't seen me mad yet". He was a narcissist by every inch of the definition and I was and always have been, an empath. So when we decided to go on a road trip to Big Bend and go camping, it sounded to me like a great a chance to get away, and maybe we would come out stronger and possibly in love. To him, it was 700 miles away from drama, which meant he would be going through withdrawal.

Datt and I got on the road in his truck around 5AM and headed west. It started off tense as he told me after he finished packing his truck that I needed to move my car into his garage while we were gone in case his ex-mistress would come around and see it and do something bad. And then he told me that she had showed up at his house a few nights before and he "called her a cab" to go home. We were 200 miles in already when this came up. I knew he was lying, but I didn't know for sure and I like I said, I was insecure.

We made our way to Marfa, TX, my first time to be there and things seemed better. We were sightseeing and taking pictures and enjoying the eclectic little town.

We had gotten ready to go out to dinner and decided to have a drink at the motel first. He then asked if I wanted to see the pictures some other woman who he was just friends with had sent him for his opinion. Have you ever heard of a boudoir photo shoot? Not pictures you send to just a friend, of the opposite sex, who is straight.

I'm 700 miles away, no airport in sight, all I could do was tell him that was inappropriate and keep it peaceful. Friends, I am not someone who yells and gets angry, I get hurt and I walk. I had nowhere to walk to. He had told me on more than one occasion that his ex had told him I was ugly, because he wanted to see me react. A woman I didn't know said I was ugly, I told him it was rude and I didn't care. I never got angry, because I didn't care, truly. He wanted to poke the bear who lived dormant inside of me, he never did.

The next day we headed into Big Bend for our camping adventure. As we were approaching, he got a text message from a neighbor telling him his ex-mistress had come to the neighborhood Christmas party. He pulled his truck over in Terlingua, right on the edge of the entrance to Big Bend so that he could find out what happened.

Let me repeat. He pulled his truck over, right on the edge of the entrance to Big Bend with his current girlfriend to find out what happened at the party the night before where his ex-mistress had shown up. I sat in his truck, while he paced outside, smoking a cigarette anxiously trying to get anyone to answer the phone.

He found out she came, was likely under something much stronger than booze but his friend drove her home. He opened the door and asked me to drive.

He was shaken up because he cared about her wellbeing and she was apparently on Meth. Now I was in the truck, behind the wheel, with my current boyfriend whom I thought may be an alcoholic was shaken up because his ex-mistress was maybe on Meth and I'm driving towards a canyon. This does not seem like the right idea, but have you ever been in this situation? Do you know what you would do? You might, I heard it 100 times, but I was in it and was completely overwhelmed with the thought of "What the actual fuck am I supposed to do but just drive?".

We made our way to the campsite, set up our tent, umm wait, I set up MY tent we were to share, and thankfully friends, this was a campsite where others were also camping with families and friends. I was not in danger, I never felt in danger of him, because I had apparently never seen him mad. Then we decided to drive to where I thought we were going to look for snacks at the store. He was looking for cell service. Hw was frantically trying to get a hold of his friend to get to the bottom of the ex. When he did, this is how it unfolded as I was still driving us. His friend gets on the phone "did you take her home? Did you have sex with her?" Yep, that's the first two questions out of his mouth. What business was that of his? Why did he care? Does he care? My mind was asking these questions while my face sat stunned. He hung up the phone, made me pull the truck over on the side of the canyon so he could throw up.

Let me reiterate what just happened. His current girlfriend was driving him in his truck on a weekend getaway and camping trip together in a giant canyon and he told her to pull the truck over so he could throw up because the thought of his meth addicted ex-girlfriend had slept with his friend the night before.

Do you have that imagery in your head clear? Do you see that I am still in the truck? I was stuck. I was heartbroken and an empath, two very difficult emotions when you are dating a narcissist. They hurt you, but they are hurt, so you hurt for them first. You can deal with your pain later.

It is dusk at this point, I had driven us back to the campsite and demanded we hike to the Window at Big Bend because damnit, if I wasn't going to be sad, and he was going to ruin my trip, I was at least going to find my way to a beautiful view to breath in mother nature for a minute while he sulked behind me afraid to look through The Window at Big Bend and stare at his zero service cellphone.

When we headed back, the wine was opened and he was too upset to eat, so I snacked on trail mix. I've never been too upset to eat. Friends, there was nowhere to go without cayotes and snakes and I didn't know what else to do. We drank in the pain. He more than me, I needed to keep my wits about me. I needed to stay alert, I needed to understand the severity of this situation and try to dissect my role in allowing it to continue.

As the stars began to blanket the sky, he began to be a wet blanket on my shoulder. Crying, hysterically crying for hours through the night. He cried because he didn't know how to love anyone else after being with her, he cried because she was so messed up, he cried because he was heartbroken, he cried because he couldn't be alone. Finally, after his crying and 1.5 bottles of self drunk wine kicked in and he fell asleep, I rolled onto my side and let the tears fall from my eyes too.

We got up at 6AM, without speaking, rolled up our sleeping bags, broke down the tent, my tent, the one I bought in Santiago, Chile while living a life of adventure and independence just 2 years prior, and put everything back in his truck. I backed us out of the site, and into the sunrise we drove out of the canyon, headed for Houston.

I headed for home, as soon as I pulled my car from his garage, he headed for her. It took me a while to wrap my head around the intensity of the situation. It took about 10 minutes to call it the world's worst road trip. It took about 10 days for me to completely cut off all ties. It took me 20 days to install a security system. It took me 30 days to block contact. It took me 5 years to go on another camping road trip with someone else I was seeing.

And it took me 5 years and 1 weekend to vow never to go camping with someone who had a significant ex-not-so ex ever again. Stay tuned for the next one...

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Hadley McClellan
Hadley McClellan
06 abr 2021

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