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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Stalkers

I have had stalkers all my life. Some were annoying, and some were a bit flattering; a small percentage have been threatening or downright dangerous. Only one has been persistent for close to ten years and, somehow, involved me in this dance.
I was with this guy from March, 2001 through June, 2002. It began impulsively and ended badly. No surprise. It was the kind of ending where "staying friends" was not an option and I would never choose a friend who behaved as crassly and dishonestly as this guy did, anyway. He did not take the break-up well and convinced himself he was trying to win me back by calling endlessly, I suppose, and that I was close-minded and unreasonable. One of the most intelligent things that I have ever done, relationship-wise, was that I NEVER returned to him or encouraged him - NO hot make-up sex, no meetings to talk it over - one trip to empty my apartment of the last of his belongings so he had no excuse, and that was the only interaction I participated in.
He called constantly, sent text messages, showed up at my job, and once he brought a huge bouquet of pink roses to a place he knew I'd be. He never threatened me and had never been physically violent, so I was not afraid of him, just profoundly irritated by his refusal to respect my wishes to end contact completely. He'd call on holidays and attempted to "stay friends" with people he'd met through me - this didn't work because everyone saw through him, and most of them hadn't liked him all that well in the first place.
Eventually, he'd drop off, usually because he wound up in a treatment center or jail (his own doing - I never involved the police.)
I would forget about him, and sooner or later, tell the story to a friend, or mention my ex-stalker in the context of a conversation. If I said his name out loud, he'd call within 24 hours. It took me a while to believe this. Distance didn't matter, either time or mile-wise. He called me in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Puerto Rico after various people asked me if he was still bothering me and I said "No, I think he's given up."
And he would seem to give up for long periods of time and then, suddenly, text messages would pour in or he'd call on the cellphone. Over the years, I left the job and moved out of the area that he'd known me to live in, but I didn't want to change my cell phone number, partially because I have hundreds of contacts, but also out of fear that he'd track me down another way and learn where I lived, or stumble across me on the Internet. (He knew I was a writer, but I wasn't active on any scene during that period, and he doesn't know anything about my books or performances - not yet.)
About 5 years ago, I mentioned his name and ran into him the next day. Now, the stakes were raised. Naturally, he started calling. A Buddhist friend suggested I try various exercises in which I wish him well and let him go and let go of my anger as well. I did this for a week and then I went to Bed, BAth and Beyond to buy a shower gift and he was standing in the doorway. Sometime after that he went on an insane text message campaign, alternately preaching and lecturing me in 5-part messages on a daily basis. I contrived a way to automatically answer every message and have it seem that it was coming from an attorney. After a couple of replies, he must have believed it and never called again. This was about four years ago. I never said his name again until last week.
I was talking to my male companion about stalking and hurricanes - he has many stalkers, but he likes it that way, tells them where he'll be, and flirts enough to keep hope alive - anyway, I said the guy's name. And then I said fuck. I shouldn't have done that.
Today I went to Coney Island, used the bathroom at Nathan's, exited on my way to buy a hot dog, and he was standing there, holding two hot dogs. Like he was waiting for me. It was the ten-year anniversary of the night he stole my car and the exact place we were standing was the place where we first kissed. I don't know what my part is in all this, but I was clear in my desire to move as far away from him as quickly as possible.
I responded to his greeting politely and excused myself, bought the hot dog on the Boardwalk and circled back to my car, avoiding him. I think you can block cell phone numbers now - the only problem was that he'd use a lot of different numbers.
This was a weirdly fucked-up day, even the weather behaved bizarrely. Makes me want to hide.

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