The Bad Influence
Published in

The Bad Influence

Part 2

My Abusive Traveling Relationship

I was too scared to leave and mentally fragile

Mount Isa surrounded by nothing but bush. Source: Flickr

This story continues from drug-fueled days in the UK. To read why I left in more detail, here’s the link:

I often read about how great traveling is. The cultures you get exposed to. The people from all over the world you get to meet. The wonderful sights and historical buildings you can view. It all sounds like a paradise.

There are also cautionary tales. Awkward situations. Areas where cell-phones fail to penetrate and nobody knows where you are. The dodgy shanty towns that twist and turn into a world of confusion.

What if you’re not ready to travel?

My last year in England was a nightmare. I had dabbled far too often in recreational drugs and was having a meltdown. I had become very anti-social and lived like a recluse. I no longer wanted to be in public.

No need for details, we can all imagine what mental psychosis feels like. I knew I had to get away. Far away. I wanted to become anonymous. Part of a crowd. Hidden.

Travel was my extreme solution. Not to Europe, a one hour drive back to safety, but somewhere as far away as possible.

An acquaintance also had the same idea and was looking for a travel companion. Safety in numbers. I agreed immediately. I didn’t care where I went, I only wanted to be gone.

Northern Richard was to be my anchor.

I had only met him a few times on the scene. He was very sarcastic with a major chip on his shoulder. He spoke in a ferocious Derby accent. Certain people mocked him for being born north of London. He was angry at southerners. His gentle derision would soon descend into outright hostility. I questioned if he was the best person to begin my journey with but I had no other takers.

We rolled a dice to decide where we would go. ‘Dice Man’ was big on the student curriculum! Australia would be our first country.

We bought tickets that included a stop-over three weeks in the Philippines.

In less than two months, I would be alone and abandoned in the Australian outback.

It was clear the moment we boarded the first plane that we wouldn’t get along. His temper would often flare up at his exhaustion with being in my presence. He loathed the sight of me.

By the end of our time together, he wouldn’t even acknowledge anything I would say.

I was in an abusive relationship but too scared to leave.

I felt guilty. Most of what he said had a grain of truth. I was a leech, a parasite. I had lost myself. I couldn’t cope with talking to people. I was paranoid and reclusive. Mentally, travel should have been the last thing I should have done. With every encounter of strangers, Rich would do all the talking. It was him and his gift of the gab that attracted people. I hung back. I allowed him to do all the talking.

I let him make all the decisions.

There were moments when we became united. Where we enjoyed life together, experiencing the same highs. We scuba-dived off the coast of Cebu in the Philippines. We sang and drank together in a band. We took speed and rode the jeepney’s all night. He was always cool under pressure. Self-assured.

He was everything I wanted to be as a traveler.

We touched down in Sydney having spent the entirety of the plane ride in silent anger. He seethed and raged at having to arrive at another country with me by his side. I felt I had no other choice. It was another new scenario and he was my only recognizable anchor.

Our first night at a backpacker’s in Coogee was monumental. Within the first hour Rich had got himself kicked out for smoking a bong. I was in panic mode. I didn’t know how I would cope without him by my side.

Despite the abuse, I was terrified of being on my own.

Together we scoured the area for another place to sleep. It was late at night and everywhere was taken. Fearless Rich decided he would sleep rough on the beach. I admired his bravery. I wanted to be like him. We agreed to meet up later in the morning.

Three days past before I saw him again.

We both needed the time away. In his absence, I had to adapt. I had to speak for myself. I had to become reliant on me. In essence, the old me returned. I met people with ease. I became somebody people wanted to know. I was charismatic and charming. I enjoyed feeling more like my old self.

Rich had had a great time too. He regaled me with his adventures. He apologized for being a dick to me. He wanted to start over. Begin afresh. I agreed.

We traveled with another companion who had a vehicle. Three of us on the road. Cooped up together for long periods of time. The old resentment resurfaced. He couldn’t stand to look at me. He hated everything I did. He disliked the way I breathed, the way I moved, the very space I took up.

The penultimate night saw him finally explode with loathing.

Fists clenched, he had to be held back after I said something deemed ‘obnoxious’. He roared at me, flinging insults, calling me a parasite. He described in detail how allergic he was to my presence.

He was full of hate.

We agreed that we would split at the next town. Me being the one to go. He had some compassion as to not abandon me out bush by the campfire. I quietly went to bed in despair. Scared at what the day would bring. Our companion agreed with me. He said I had done nothing wrong and that the issue was all with Rich. I knew he was only partly right. I believed everything Rich had accused me of including my artwork (he said it was shit and immature).

The next day we arrived at Mount Isa. An old mining town surrounded by thousands of miles of bush or desert. There was to be no last coffee or meal shared. I disembarked. We shook hands. Wished each other all the best and then they were gone.

Five minutes.

I marvelled at the speed of our goodbye’s and took a long, deep breath.

My initial thoughts weren’t good. I wanted to go home. Back to my parents. Abandon this stupid travel. I was at least two days away from the nearest international airport. I had $42 in my pocket. I was terrified.

This would be the start of my adventure.

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Reuben Salsa

Reuben Salsa

Taking the fun out of functionality.