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(Sensitive content) July 16 2023, Pierce Pond Lean-to to US Route 201 (Caratunk, ME):
First thing in the morning, Voodoo and I got into an argument as we were walking. He made a joke about me not being able to catch up with him. I had told him several times how I didn’t take well to jokes where I felt I was being made fun of, especially when I could sense there was a jab behind it. It seemed like communicating what bothered me was becoming absolutely useless when it was being met with the same boundaries being crossed over and over again. Often times, I felt he would intentionally use what felt vulnerable to me and use it against me.
So, the whole situation blew up when it didn’t have to. I really just wanted to have the space to talk things out like adults—share what was on my mind and heart while he shared what was on his. He started yelling in my face, saying how sensitive I was and unable to take a joke. Naturally, I went numb in my state of mind. His words and yelling didn’t seem to really puncture me the way I thought it would. I just looked him in the eyes, tired of all the noise, aware of the pattern that was coming and walked right past him. But, the silence seemed to irritate him again.
He started repeatedly poking his finger into my forehead, as if knocking, saying, “Hellllooo? Is anyone fucking in there? Fucking say something.”
“We have three miles left,” I said, “I really just want to walk in silence. I can’t talk to you when you’re in this state.”
He jumped in front of me and started berating me. He began poking words into all of my soft spots as if tempting me to play into the game with him. When I didn’t, he grabbed my trekking poles and started screaming obscenities and curse words, telling me what a nuisance I was to him. He was unable to just be in silence with me, I think because it actually made him listen to what he was saying and how he was reacting. There was nothing for him, other than the reverberation of his words bouncing back to him.
He found some nearby logs on the ground and used his knee to break them in half. Then, he used it such as a baseball bat to start smashing the trees around him, watching as pieces of bark went flying. Then, he would get into my face and start berating me again. Once again, I felt unable to retrieve a clear memory of what he apparently said for it felt as if I numbed out during the experience.
Him unable to respect my need for silence, I turned around and started walking south since I knew there was a nearby road in that direction. We only had a few miles left to the river and I didn’t want to start my morning with someone yelling at me when I was so used to being in quietude for several hours upon waking up. But, he would just run over and stop me in my path going that way, too. I felt I was getting harassed no matter which direction I took, so I took my pack off, feeling energetically defeated, and walked off into the forest where he couldn’t see me. There, I sat beside a rushing stream of water. I felt disassociated, yet I still tried to just tune into the present moment as the sounds of the water momentarily cleansed my worries.
After about twenty minutes, I walked back to the trail. As I was coming upon the spot where I had dropped my pack, Voodoo snuck up behind me and surprised me, causing me to jump in fear when I saw him.
Huh, that’s new, I thought, getting freaked out when I see him now.
Huge red flag in my mind to actually experience fear for someone I claimed to be romantically involved with. He had taken my pack with him when he went searching for me, not sure why. When I went to put it back on, he pulled it away and threw it across the trail, demanding me to “say something” because my silence was driving him crazy.
“Why do you have to yell?” I asked, “why can’t you just talk normally?”
He mocked my voice, then yelled, “I’m not yelling!”
From a distance, I saw a group of hiker guys about to walk by. I think Voodoo saw the light in my eyes, a momentary glimpse of feeling grateful that there were people nearby that I could call upon for help. All of a sudden, I felt safe that there was even just the mere presence of another person around.
Just as I was about to ask the men if I could walk with them for the next couple of miles, Voodoo pushed me into the woods right off the trail and whispered, “You’re not allowed to talk to them. Unless you want to see me beat their asses up.”
So close, I thought.
I put my head down and turned away compliantly. As they walked by and asked how we were doing, I bit my tongue and didn’t say anything. Instead, I let the hot tears roll silently out of my eyes and down my cheeks. Voodoo waited for them to walk by.
“What?” he whispered to me, “No one’s out here to protect you. You think they’ll protect you? No. They can’t. They’re middle aged men. I’d whoop their asses right in front of you. They can’t defend themselves.”
I was at a loss for words. How was I so mistaken? How was I so blindsided by all of this? I walked on forward and left Voodoo to himself, screaming “fucking bitch” and “fucking cunt” at the top of his lungs. His words started to fade into the background, however within a couple of minutes, I saw the guys in front of me again. They turned around to see what all the commotion was about after Voodoo let out one really loud rage.
I felt a sense of embarrassment for having even associated myself with him for as long as I did. I felt as if I was ‘that girl’. ‘That girl’ who would even put up with something even remotely that intense. ‘That girl’ who convinced herself she was a victim. ‘That girl’ who clearly didn’t know what she was worthy of, because if she did, she wouldn’t be putting up with any of that shit.
“Are you okay?” one of the guys asked.
Tears rolling out of my eyes again, afraid to make a wrong move or say something I might regret, I shook my head “no”.
As I walked by, he said, “It will all work out. Everything will always work itself out.”
It was the most comforting thing I needed to hear at that moment.
Without making eye contact with him, I said “Thank you”.
It felt like he was coming from my mind as an Angel and blessing me with words of prayer. I knew the innocence of my experience, too. I knew how my heart just longed for compassion and just the kindness and presence of another human, wanting to talk to me and make sure I was safe, made me feel so loved. Yet within seconds, Voodoo came running up the trail when he saw I was close to the guys. He puffed out his chest and stared them down as if he was going to hit them.
“Did those guys say anything to you?” he asked as we walked past them.
“Yeah, they just asked if I was okay,” I said.
With a combative edge in his tone, he snarled, “They better learn how to mind their fucking business.”
It was weird how often he said he would kick peoples’ asses, but then wouldn’t say anything to their face when it came down to it.
He kept telling me over and over again how mad I was making him and that now he was going to get angry and have a mental breakdown because of the games I was playing with his head.
I wondered Hm, if this is him acting normal, what does it mean when he’s going to get ‘angry’?
Because I kind of assumed pushing trees over, yelling in my face and throwing my backpack was perceived as angry, but I guess not. I also thought it was ironic because I stopped playing head games with him a long time ago, but now he thought I was playing mind games with him, when in all actuality, I just wanted to talk about what was on my heart.
As he was apparently acting out, I didn’t necessarily feel scared. I guess I didn’t know what I was feeling. I wasn’t afraid of him hitting me or anything like that. In fact, I was ready to take it on. I was moreso feeling lost and unsure as of how I got there. I always viewed myself as a strong woman. Now I just felt so weak and dim, like the light inside of me wasn’t even flickering.
After a long few miles, we finally made it to the ferry and crossed over. It had started to pour rain and by the time we made it to the road, we decided to hitch into Caratunk so we could dry off at the Sterling Inn. However, a couple of minutes into being there, I decided to get a room for the night since it felt more inspiring to be in a warm bed versus hiking in the rain.
As I was purchasing the room, instead of a simple “thank you,” Voodoo said, “Yeah, that’s right. Why don’t you return the favor since I got us a room last time.”
Last time happened to be my birthday. So many comments he made to me on a day to day basis just didn’t feel good and I just felt like I couldn’t help but freeze in my spot. I felt like I was screaming inside, but no one could hear me. It felt like I was showing people the pain through my dulled eyes, but no one could see it.
When we laid down in bed, he confessed that he was scared of losing me and thought it would be easier for him if I just left, but he didn’t let me leave because he had abandonment issues.
“All I had to do was just not freak out,” he said.
He began kissing me and I kissed him back without anything in my heart anymore.
“I can feel you leaving me,” he said, “I can feel you’re going to run away and I’m scared. This is what makes me think I’m going to end up dying alone.”
“I think I’m going to end up dying alone, too,” I said, “but for different reasons.”
I wasn’t afraid of that experience. In fact, the image in my mind of being alone when I was older appeared to soothe me.
He apologized again and again, saying, “I’m so sorry, baby. I don’t know why I have to act like a child when I get angry and sad. I don’t know why I have to act so uncontrollable in those moments. I just feel like a gorilla and you’re just so fragile. You don’t deserve that.”
I so deeply wanted to buy into his bullshit, but I knew deep down his words were just lies painted over by cheap sincerity. I had a hard time admitting to myself that it was just another facade to get me to fall back into his trap.
He could feel me drifting away, so he held me close and said, “I’m just a terrible person and now that you saw my true colors, you don’t want to be with me.”
“Those aren’t your true colors,” I said.
“Yes it is,” he defended, “that’s how I really am.”
“No it’s not,” I reassured.
“I’m just hurting,” he said.
“I know.”
“How do you know?”
“Because you wouldn’t be acting out if you weren’t hurting.”
He wasn’t some sort of monster to me. He wasn’t someone scary, or narcissistic or someone whose reputation I wanted to ruin. He was my brother, showing me where I was still hurting and how I was talking to myself in my own mind. He was bringing all the shit up to help me see how I was treating myself in thought.
It seemed I still had some layers of victim mentality that I wanted to play out and he was the perfect candidate for me, helping me bring layers of subconscious thoughts to the surface to show me that this worldly game of separation wasn’t what I truly wanted.
I knew that the way I made him out to be in my perception as this abusive guy “Voodoo” wasn’t really how he truly was in Reality. I was making him out to be that way in my own mind, a character I placed on the screen of consciousness, to play out this little game of ours until we were able to see the gift in it and what the underlying message was for. All the while, he was still innocent and a child of God, just like me.
And a little mantra that helped me along my path was that everyone we perceived was either loving or calling out for love. And although I was aware of all these truths and knew what I was wholly deserving of, I still had no control over what my apparent choices were. I had no control over whether I would still be with him or not. I was simply watching the past play out as I was either making the situation real and problematic, or seeing it as it was really meant to be seen: meaningless chaos which meant nothing. And, I was for certain, that the experience I was apparently going through came bearing with gifts.