My Quiet Triumph: I Outlived My Stalker.
I used to sleep so soundly that I had to put a wind-up alarm clock in a metal cookie tin filled with rocks to have any hope of waking up on time.
I could sleep through most disturbances. I would sleep for eight or nine hours, sometimes more.
When I was awakened by a solid punch to my nose followed by hands around my throat, that was the end of my restful sleep. That was twenty-something years ago.
My stalker broke into my home. My stalker called the school I was attending, trying to get information about me, threatening those that wouldn’t give it. He called my workplace and told my manager he was going to kill me and anyone that got in his way. He jumped out of the bushes one night, trying to bash my head in with a shovel; I was saved only by the quick-thinking friend who shoved me to the sidewalk.
I ended up leaving the city I loved for years. When I finally came back, it was with a different last name. I pursued a new type of education and a new kind of work in hopes he couldn’t find me.
Law enforcement didn’t take his actions or threats seriously. More than once, I was told that we needed to “kiss and make up” by a member of law enforcement. I was not taken seriously because I fought back hard and in one incident was wearing his blood all over my hands and shirt; the deputy told me it looked like I had things “under control” so not to bother them since they had “real work to do.”
I had to decline invitations to get-togethers, camping trips, and birthday parties because he was a friend of so many of my friends. He was always somewhere in the circle of acquaintances in a small city where everyone knows everyone else. Too often, I was told to “get over it” because he’s “a nice guy.” In my book, nice guys don’t try to murder me, so I’ll skip your cookout, thanks.
Even as the years passed, he took any opportunity to let me know I was still on his mind. He managed to find my email address and would send me messages about where he saw me and my daughter; I deleted that account immediately, not sure who I knew that gave him my contact information.
My stalker followed me and my daughter around a store one evening, so I dragged my confused daughter with me to sit in front of the pharmacy-area security camera until he finally left.
I wouldn’t let my employer post my photo on the company website. I felt like I couldn’t promote my books and events because he could show up anywhere. I hesitated to accept Facebook friend requests from people who weren’t super close to me, because every time I blocked his account, he would create a new one and try to find me.
The only time I felt like I could really relax were on those precious few vacations outside the country. In another country, I could nap in a hammock in the garden. I could go to any restaurant and sit in any chair, instead of watchfully facing the door. I could get engrossed in a book while lounging in the shade by the pool.
If only I could have afforded that luxury more often, maybe the last couple decades wouldn’t have been so stressful.
I prefer to sleep with dogs in my bedroom, much to the dismay of any significant other I’ve had. Other humans sleep too deeply for me to feel safe with them. I wake at most out-of-place sounds, and I wake at any light that gets turned on. Dogs will let me know if the sound is a concern, jumping up to growl and bark if necessary, or sighing and going back to sleep if it’s nothing important.
I got word that my stalker died last month. I outlived his threats and insults.
Like the heroine at the end of scary movie, I hesitate to be excited because now that I know what a monster a human can be, I will never be the same. No, I don’t think my stalker will rise again like the unkillable Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees, but I know there are others out there who are just as broken inside as he was. Damaged people don’t come with warning labels on their foreheads.
For now, my triumph is a quiet one as I climb into bed with my dogs jumping in right behind me. I made it. I fucking made it. I live on.
Kat Craig is a writer, tarot reader, and teacher in Asheville, NC. She hogs the mic at karaoke, charges crystals in the moonlight, drinks too much coffee, and believes Converse sneakers are appropriate for most social occasions. Join Kat’s email list for a free story, and find her on Facebook for writing updates and too many photos of her pets.