I find it amazing that this week is not yet over. It’s only Thursday, but it’s emotionally been somewhere between six months to a year long.
I wanted to write and update with some book reviews and questions this week, but life intervened in a pretty crazy way. I won’t go into all the details for some semblance of privacy, hence my not leaving specifics like my name, workplace, etc.
I say this because I’ve had a couple of pseudo-stalkers the past few years on Facebook and other media. I say “pseudo” because even after reading a few books on stalking behavior and examples, I’m not sure of these qualify (you can read my first question on dating for more background). One backed off and I never heard from or saw him again. The other came back…somewhat out of the blue.
Because things are ongoing and other eyes are looking into it, and for privacy’s sake, I can’t give particulars. I did find it strange that after not saying a damn word to this guy in almost a year, that he suddenly leaves me a gift and a note asking me out. That’s what’s surprising me. I waffled over it, and didn’t want anything from him, didn’t even want to open it, because that would mean I really wanted to know what it was in his eyes.
I’m always awkward about getting gifts, and any time this guy gave me anything it pissed me off because I’d say I didn’t want anything in the first place. I’d end up being guilted into taking it because either I’d remember my manners about not refusing gifts, or I’d just want him to leave and figured it’d be the quickest way to get him out of my hair.
This time I put in his temporary locker and walked out. Being polite and taking it home would only encourage him…especially after I saw the request for a date letter that came with the package after. Hours later, he’s outside my section’s office waiting for me when I’m ready to go home, and he wanted to talk.
Even more creeped out…like neck hair standing on end creeped out.
I stalled for time, talking to some former co-workers (its an odd place where several different employers run things together, and just about everybody outside my office is a former co-worker). Some of them walked down with me to get my stuff and I found out they waited outside where I was locking up my gear to go home. He came in and wanted to talk about how he thought I was scared of a relationship (calmly), I said I wasn’t, and then he started yelling about that…among other things.
That part was awkward enough, especially since at first I didn’t know half of what he was talking about. I didn’t look at him much; I was trying not to, and trying to say that I wasn’t interested. I kept my sentences clipped, short, because if I babbled nervously in long, unclear responses, he’d give long responses, and use that advantage to try to wear me down…like he’s done at least half a dozen times and always when I didn’t have a chance to have a last word.
That lasted maybe a minute at the most, then mi amigos came in and demanded he leave, since he had no legit reason to be in the same building that hour anyway. I gotta say a big thanks to those guys…the creepy-meter was working overtime.
I was partway down the hill when I realized he was maybe half a minute behind me, so I ducked into another building on the way to the parking lot. For one thing, there were people I knew in there and I did want to say hi for a minute. More importantly, I figured he might get in his much-closer parked vehicle and try to block mine in to have his say (away from witnesses). I figured he wouldn’t start a scene in the middle of an open building.
I was kinda wrong.
He didn’t throw things or curse, but he was loud for about two minutes about how I never appreciated him and we were going to hash this out right now since we couldn’t do it in private. I apparently, finally, “got it in his head” that I wanted him to leave me alone and that’s all I wanted. He left and I just stood there a bit and said hi to some of the employees in there (all as shocked as me, I’m sure). I was running on adrenaline, mouth dry and hands shaking just a bit, but admittedly, I was also So. Fucking. Proud. of myself.
I was proud that I’d made it abruptly clear that I didn’t want anything from him, that I would accept nothing else from him, and that I wanted him to leave me alone.
I was proud I didn’t let guilt come creeping in to make me concerned about his feelings and how rude I was probably being.
I admit, I had to stare at a sign on the wall instead of him to get that message across, jaw tense and wondering what was going to happen next, but hey–it’s a start.
I went home, still tense, told my bestie, then went to bed because I had worked all night and was drained. I woke up a bit lighter, but also wondering.
That was Sunday. Monday I got a call from the boss about the complaint. My heroes and some others must’ve gotten to him right away when he got there, and I spent the morning making phone calls. Basically, something’s going to happen and they need my statement. I wouldn’t be surprised if mi amigos started calling the complaint line before my car had left the parking lot.
Monday was spent in a weird high-and-low fog, where I was just processing. Tuesday was spent looking through old writings I’d made during the time I knew him, armed with post-it notes. I know they were looking for info about sexual harassment and how often I told the guy that I wasn’t interested in going out. I’m glad I kept most of those logs and diary entries now, because wherever I saw his name I put a post-it and moved on. It reminded me of many things. For one, it reminded me that (when I read them to remember) at no time was I attracted to him or considering dating him. I was okay just being friends, but when he’d push and ask me out, I’d stop talking to him and do my version of throwing a brick wall up after saying no.
But then in looking, Tuesday and Wednesday morning, I got a little despairing, because there’s so many things I probably could’ve done to nip this in the bud more. I began to doubt myself, and wanted to bang my head against the table for all the steps I didn’t take, and all the opportunities to nip this in the bud missed.
I rationalized his behavior in some way by thinking that my naivete meant I didn’t understand social cues all that well, and that when I said no and he’d back off and accept it, that he really got it. But it shouldn’t happen half a dozen times. Now I’m looking in my pages of entries and even casual references to his behavior make my skin crawl. I had no idea what a ball of anxiety I was around him, so often and so long. I chatted with him a lot, I admit, but he was an audience and I’m a “reflexive-nervous-babbler.” He was an enabler, and kept hanging around to talk. And its obvious the more time he spent with me and the more I talked, he interpreted it as interest.
I wish I was flexible to kick myself in the ass, because if this went from an investigation into a case, I’d have a hard time explaining it. I can barely explain it to myself without wanting to scream. My nervousness makes me giggle and talk when it’s the last thing I want to do, and it gets worse the more uncomfortable I am with someone. I grew to hate him a little more each time I saw him the last couple of months before I quit. He’d keep coming back into my space, but I didn’t want to start anything. I still can’t decipher the line between annoyance and harassment is, not really, so I was all over the map yesterday. I couldn’t read anymore about it and quit early, packing my gear and going on a drive and to stop at a few places.
I found myself with an eye twitch, incredibly tense, a ball of lead in my stomach, torn between wanting to scream or go numb, and on my way to a migraine. Somehow I’d gone from proud of myself to shame and upset, and a little bit of fear. Perhaps the books I was reading by retired cops and statistics had creeped me out a bit, but I started to wonder how close I could’ve come to making a really wrong move. I’m glad I never went on a date with the guy one-on-one, though I did go with him and some other people out (I found out pretty quickly they were trying to set us up–and I never went away from work with any of them ever again!). I started thinking of weapons I could carry in my car, and what else I could do for myself.
Then I remembered looking up self-defense classes a year ago, and some advice I heard about great places to try. It was maybe a bit impulsive of me, as broke and as out-of-shape as I am, but I figured the money would be far less than the cost of being beaten to a pulp and in the hospital for months or dead. This is MY health insurance. So I hit some old territory, found one that fit what I wanted, and slapped the money down before I could change my mind.
My pride came back quickly after that. I gotta admit, I’m excited because I always wanted to learn this stuff…I’m a student at heart, and this is some much-needed learning. All that upset and anger melted and I was in great shape to go to my other job that night, and now I can’t wait.
So I went from uncertainty, trouble, apprehension, fright, pride, despair, panic, anxiety, determination, and pride again. I’ve been all over the map, and now I have to re-examine what I need to do. My dear sister thought I seemed a bit lighter and is so happy for me, that though this whole scenario might be shitty, that somehow I’m going to make something good come from it.
If wisdom and the ability to act comes (more naturally), it might not be worth it, so to speak, but at least it’s something I can work with and keep on going. All I can do is tell the truth to the best of my ability and do my damnedest to make a brighter, smarter future for myself and those around me.
And seriously, don’t be the “social slow-kid” like me: learn to pay attention, even if you think it makes you look paranoid. Better to be safety-minded…and to get insight from great friends who have different life experiences than you. You never know what you’ll learn to save your bacon.