This is part of my “Rewinding to Rochelle” series that sheds light on what an abusive relationship can look like.
Trigger Warning: This contains content that may be upsetting to some readers. While the incidents are real, all names are fictitious.
It was a dark and cloudy evening in Rochelle’s hometown. We had just spent the afternoon with her family and I was beginning the hour drive back to the city.
Rochelle: Why are you using the GPS? You’ve been here before.
The Dating Introvert: Yeah, but I’ve only been here twice before and I’m not sure about the route.
Rochelle: You should be able to get to places without relying on the GPS.
The Dating Introvert: It’s dark and I’m not familiar enough with this area.
At that point, she pulled the power cable out of the GPS unit.
Now, I’ve never claimed to be a great driver. It’s hard for me to drive on a poorly-lit road at 40mph and need to suddenly choose between two closely-positioned freeway entrances – one going north, one going south. Given how dark it was, it was unclear whether the entrance to the north was before or after the “North” sign. As luck would have it, I picked the wrong one.
“God!” she cursed.
I took the next exit but there was no easy turnaround to get me onto the north freeway, so I had to take side streets. Sometime later I saw a different “North” sign but I was too late and blew past it.
“God! Now we’re going to be wasting 10 minutes because you can’t read street signs,” she complained.
Rochelle displayed a pattern of complaining about my allegedly incompetent automobile skills. For instance, she had previously implied that I was not a “Real Man” for not knowing how to change the oil in a car. For the record, I actually know how to change the oil in a single engine prop airplane. I just never got around to learning how to do it for a car.
Why was she so obsessed with ensuring that I drive in a particular way? She didn’t work at the DMV.
And what was the point of turning off the GPS? What does it prove?
With the benefit of hindsight, I now realize that she was obsessed with finding men who embodied the stereotype of (toxic) masculinity. And part of that is being able to drive recklessly and fearlessly. I’m not that man and I don’t want to become him.