Life has been busy; I can’t believe we are closer to the end of October than the beginning. I feel like October just started, time really does fly after a certain age, I think mostly because we are in the motion and habit of things and before we know it, we look up and its October 21st and not October 1st. For my birthday I went to Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains National Park. I know in my last post I said I was supposed to write about the parks in this post. Initially this blog was kind of suppose to be an adventure blog where I share my travels, mostly my national park road trips because it’s one of my absolute favorite things to do. I want to write about all the adventures I had on my trip, but I feel like there is more pressing and important things to write about and one of those things was something my mind kept going back to on that trip.
I have been to Big Bend before, but only for school trips, not for pleasure. Who am I kidding?! School trips were always a pleasure, but the mapping and hiking was all around the same spot in Persimmon Gap. Going to map Persimmon Gap for my structural geology class was the first time I camped for longer than one night and my first National Park visit ever. Geology sparked my curiosity and fascination with the great outdoors, but that first trip to Big Bend made me fall in love with everything about being outside! Even when you accidently use a cactus to grip as you climb up a rock or when a different cactus breaks your fall down a gully, you must love it! This was also when I finally made friends with the other geology students as we bonded over the misery of walking around all day in circles mapping rocks that seemed to have no rhyme or reason. Sometimes I want to go back to see how I would do mapping that area now, but thankfully I resisted the urge to drag Alex that way. Big Bend really is a treasure, I’m thankful we got to venture further into the park (Persimmon Gap is right at the entrance) and it did not disappoint! I was so happy to be there, but I’m leaving that for the next blog because I only mentioned my first time at Big Bend to lead into my first memory of the Guadalupe Mountains.
Before my trip with Alex this month, I’ve only ever driven past/through the Guadalupe Mountains. The time I recall driving through the mountains was the time me and my ex-husband were on our way back from a weekend trip to Roswell, New Mexico. I had turned on my GPS to lead the way back to San Antonio and at one point I noticed that the next turn wasn’t for another 1.5 hours, so I decided to give my phone’s battery a break and turned off the GPS thinking that I would just turn it on when we were closer to the next turn. The thing I didn’t realize was that the GPS was including the time change, so really the next turn was in only 30 minutes because the time it showed we were making the next turn was corrected to show the hour lost when crossing from mountain to central time. When I realized we were going into the Guadalupe Mountains, I scrambled to turn my GPS back on before we lost signal, but it was too late, we had missed the turn and added a significant amount of time to the trip because we didn’t have signal in the middle of nowhere and our only option was to follow the road until we did. Eventually I did get signal and realized we were now projected to get home like 2 hours later than we had expected, and he was irate. After making me feel like an idiot, we weren’t talking, but you could feel the hostility and tension in the car. I was quietly sobbing trying not to make too much noise in the passenger side…then came the vivid memory that my mind kept going back to this time around.
The road we were on had long segments without anything in sight besides the mountains. It felt like the road was endless, going on forever with tension building until I suppose he couldn’t take the anger anymore. He pulled over and I had no idea what was going to happen, but I could tell he wasn’t in a clear state of mind. After pulling over, he got out of the car and reached into the car for his gun. I had no idea what he was going to do, I was numb, I just sat there. He walked around to the back of the car, I was not looking at him, I was sitting still not looking back and holding my breath. I heard a shot. My heart dropped. Before I collected enough courage to turn around and look, I heard him emptying his clip by firing at the ground. I can’t tell you what my biggest fear in that moment was, I can’t tell you if I was still sobbing or if I was numb, but I can tell you I felt relieved and utterly helpless. It was very scary, but inside I was thankful that he shot those rounds at the ground and not me or himself. I would like to say that this was the only time he ever pulled over and fired his gun in anger, but it wasn’t. The last time I experienced him doing that is an even scarier story October 2016 after leaving a friend’s Halloween party, but that’s a different story. That instance was a deciding factor of finally really being done, that next month was when I told him (and meant) I wasn’t going to do this anymore.
Before that final I’m done, I always said I couldn’t do this anymore, not that I’m not going to do this anymore, why is that? If anyone out there has the answers, please enlighten me. Why wasn’t this instance a deciding factor? It was a long silent drive, and I can’t recall what words were eventually said, but I know he was remorseful and must had apologized to me because I remember him stopping at the Starbucks in Boerne right outside San Antonio. Now that I think about it, maybe stopping at Starbucks was his apology, I know he needed coffee to make it through the last bit of driving we had left and I know I didn’t get off to go inside, so maybe when he was in there he realized oh crap, we are about to get home and she isn’t talking to me, so he bought me latte. It makes me feel so cheap writing that, writing that having a latte somehow made everything okay. I always question why I stayed so long. I know that in the moment after he fired the gun in the middle of nowhere, I had no other option but to stay with him, to sob in silence and not make it worst…after all, where could I possibly go? Where could I go even when I went home, he was the only home I had in San Antonio and all my life was here. This is where I worked and went to school, this is where I learned how to drive. I grew up here. I didn’t know anywhere else and unfortunately, I didn’t know and trust anyone else here. I knew I couldn’t financially support myself and even if I could drop everything and go back to Fort Worth, I didn’t want to be burden on my family, my parents can barely take care of themselves, who was I to go ask them for help?
I sound so ridiculous justifying why I stayed. I stayed because I thought it was still more convenient to stay than to leave. When I said I couldn’t do this anymore, instead of I’m not going to do this anymore, what I was really saying is that I couldn’t, or that I didn’t think I could do the hard work of leaving, of choosing myself, and working hard to get myself to where I needed to be. Someone should have told that Nancy that she can, and she will. I had no idea how I was going to make it without him, I couldn’t afford the apartment, all our debt was in my name, I do not like being alone, I had no family here, etc… but I managed my apartment and debt by temporarily getting into more debt, that held me over while I made the moves necessary to get through it, I wasn’t alone for long, Alex just showed up and stayed, and even though I don’t have any family here, being out of a relationship that made me feel guilty about building other relationships, has allowed me to build relationships that are as close to family as you can get. My point being, if anyone needs to hear this, you don’t have to do it anymore and you can choose yourself.
Ending Note: I feel bad for framing him in such a bad light, after all, I still overall think he is a good guy. He just has so many issues that he needs to workout out, trauma from his childhood that has never been addressed. I always forgave everything because hey, it’s not his fault he’s this way, it’s his mom’s fault, he is a product of his circumstance. I know I have trauma from my childhood and issues I’ve had to deal with and constantly work on. I also have trauma from that marriage and poor Alex gets the worst of it. I never spoke up before because I feared my husband’s Mr. Hyde response, but now with Alex I just let him have it. I’m like “I don’t care, you know where the door is.” Honestly, if I was dating me, I would be like bye! Sometimes I fear I’m my ex-husband in this relationship, that I’m the toxic one.
I just can’t believe how different this experience at the Guadalupe Mountains was. I was dying trying to get to the top of Texas, complaining about not being able to do the very thing I had dragged Alex there to do. I always set out to do these things forgetting that I haven’t been very kind to my body and that I’m not in the shape I once was. I was feeling horrible about myself the whole way up, having to stop after only a few steps and I kept apologizing to Alex for putting him in the situation and dragging him out there to do something I couldn’t even do. I kept waiting for him to get mad and blow up on me for dragging him out there and complaining the whole time. Waiting for him to get tired of my complaining and turn around and head back down before reaching the top, but he never did. Instead he just waited patiently for me to get to him before starting up again, he asked questions, and looked for cool rocks to ask me about.
I’m overwhelmed thinking of the difference in my two experiences in the Guadalupe Mountains. The feeling of pure bliss when we made it to the top and Alex turns around to high five me and immediately finds a place to sit down so we can enjoy our tuna with Tapatio because snacks are life and I think the hiking snacks are one of the main reasons he agrees to go hiking!