When the Anxiety Spirals...on Stalking
I am starting this blog post with I AM NOT FAULTLESS. But, let me tell you a little about how to make a girl feel unsafe. I have and always will continue to be a nice person. I am nice to everyone. I have resting nice face. And, you can definitely read that the wrong way.
My teenage years
I had 2 men that followed me around. One was an ex-boyfriend that stole me keys to my house and my car. I one time woke up with him above me staring while I slept. He bragged to people about how he would take my car for a drive at night. No idea if the second part was true or not. He was my first boyfriend. The second man, I did not know. He was a bit older than me. He drove a Dodge Neon. I don't think they make those anymore...that probably dates me a bit. He was just socially inept, I believe. He followed me around for a least a year compiling a photo album of me. He gave me the photo album as a graduation present. It had pictures of me taken through my house window and everywhere else I went. I smiled and said thank you. I discussed the invasion of privacy with my mom who said, "he's harmless if he gave you that." And, I went on with my life and college. AKA: I moved away.
My college years
I was naive. I was not a partier. I barely drank aside from lake parties on weekends. I played the flute. I have my degree in mathematics. I was a pretty girl, but a nerd nonetheless. I was told by an employee from Playboy magazine that they need clothed girls for their magazine. I was no stranger to modeling, I had been a hair model before this. So, of course, I am poor and in college and they paid me. I posed with my Advanced Calculus book fully clothed. They were lovely and respectful and nothing about the situation was in poor taste. But, I signed off to include my full name with the print copy. (This is barely on the brink of the internet.) Playboy was still popular. Landline phone numbers were still popular. Addresses were found in a phone book. Needless to say, people found me. Once again, no death threats, just presents...sent to my home. Just pictures taken of me while at my home and given to me to sign. (I lived in a gated community, so much for that keeping you safe.) I tried. But, instead of dealing with this as a poor teacher living on her own in Texas, I decided to escape for a while. I applied and got a job as a math teacher in London, England. It was a big anonymous city. I loved the feeling of being anonymous. I moved away.
London, England. I was a teacher.
The internet was coming out. People were still able to find me online (MySpace), but not my location and no Americans were going to fly to England to get me to sign a laminated photo of myself. Playboy crisis over...unless I visited my hometown to see my parents. But, alas, I am nice...to everyone. In front of my house in London one day while I was waiting for a locksmith at 3 pm...I met my next stalker. My safety latch failed and locked me out, I met a man twice my age. He was chatty, but so was I. I assumed he was a neighbor. I chatted with him about my situation, then the locksmith showed up and our conversation ceased.
Our conversation did not cease for him. He showed up daily at my front door. He would wait for my partner to leave and then come and ring the bell. I would ignore it. He would yell up at the window. "April April!" He knew I was there. He rang the bell once when my partner and his barrister friend were there. They answered the door and asked him to stop coming around. He yelled, "Let April tell me that to my face!" I decided to send him a message via police when he came back the next day. Across the street from my house was a church, which he was welcome to use as it is public property, he sat there daily on the bench out in front staring at my house. I was 24 at the time. The guy was 50+. I then sent him a message to stop sitting across from my house. After that, because internet was so sparce and not in homes, I had to use the library for internet. For, at least a year, he followed me to the library and sat across the room and stared while I worked. I moved house. Again.
Back in the USA I became a flight attendant
I did not have another "stalker experience" until I started dating someone at my workplace in 2006. I dated him incredibly briefly. I travel for a living. I would land from a flight and he'd be there. Or even worse, he would be traveling to the same location as a passenger on the flight I was working. He would pick up trips that I was working. He would always blame the "universe" for bringing us together. I believed it for a while. I actually revisited this relationship in the depths of my addiction after I had already privatized my work schedule from his ability to find it through my workplace. I am not faultless. I led this guy on. I fixed my hair for him. I treated him poorly. I did not draw a hard line. The stalking confused me. I thought, if the universe wanted us to be together like this, maybe we made wrong decisions before. I got confused. I made mistakes. But, bottom line. Serendipity is not like that. Stalking is. You do not randomly run into people in cities like Dallas, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC, like I did this guy. I took 4 years off from flight attending and had a job in Downtown Chicago. He just happened to be there on occasion. He lived a 5 hour flight away. Not the universe bringing us together as romantic as that sounds in your head...
So, here I am. Trying to understand how this anxiety has accumulated over the years from harmless, non-abusive stalking. I have experienced it for 20 years. And, in my mid-30s I am sober. The feelings are back. The feelings of the lack of safety. The feelings of lack of security. All of the feelings. And, I cannot handle them. They're there. I am going to talk to a psychiatrist about it. I spent 15 years of my life calling the police out of fear in the middle of the night. I spent 20 years of my life thinking, "He might be around this corner. He's probably around the next." Time to deal with it, my friends. Time to deal with all of it.