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Okay, let me start by saying that I love my Dad.  We haven’t always had a very close relationship, but that’s changed in the past ten or so years.  We have started to understand each other better, and since my breakdown, he has done a lot of personal growth.  (“Done” doesn’t seem to be the right word here, but I can’t find one I like any better.)  I do love him, a lot.

But today was one of those days where I wanted to shake him, or smack him, or something.  It was such a small incident, but yet it illustrates one of the most frustrating things about my father.  Hang in for the full story, I think you’ll see what I mean in the end.

Today was Wendy’s Dreamlift Day, which is a fundraiser where all of the local Wendy’s restaurants donate all their proceeds and the staff and management donate all their wages to help local children with life-threatening illnesses or severe disabilities go to Disneyland.  It’s a super-worthy cause, and my parents always support it.

So Dad says he’ll go pick up supper, and we should write down what we want.  I made the list:  an Ultimate Chicken Grill and a baked potato for me;  chicken nuggets and fries for Mom;  and I left it to Dad to figure out what he wanted.  So off he goes to pick up the food.

He comes home, and tells me that he ordered us each a combo meal, with fries and a Diet Coke.  I got my chicken sandwich, but Mom got chicken strips, not nuggets.  I didn’t get my baked potato, and aspartame gives me a migraine.  I asked him, what was the point in giving him a list, if he was just going to choose something else for us?  He said that he’d just decided that the combos were a good idea, and so easy to order.  You’ve got a friggin’ list, what is hard about that???  I pointed out that Mom didn’t even order chicken strips, that she had deliberately chosen to order nuggets.  And reminded him that I can’t drink diet pop.  He just shrugged and said something like well, I decided to do this.

Gaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  Maybe I’m over-reacting, but this is an ongoing thing with him.  He doesn’t listen, and when he does, he just does whatever he wants anyway.  He was so matter-of-fact about it, and wasn’t bothered at all that he had completely disregarded what we wanted, substituting his own choice for ours.  He was positively cheerful.  Father knows best, riiiiiiiiiiight.

Petty example, because it’s fast food, right?  Not something that, in and of itself, made any real difference.  But the thing is, he would do this no matter what the issue was.  It is so frustrating.  If he had been going out to buy medicine, and was told to buy Tylenol because the sick person was allergic to aspirin, he’d come back with aspirin if it was on sale, or if he just happened to prefer aspirin himself.  He does things like this all the time.  I am so frustrated with the larger issue that was spotlighted tonight with our food order.

He does it with Dannan all the time, too.  Dannan is a three-legged dog.  His missing leg is his front left.  All of his weight rests on his front right leg, because his centre of gravity is at the front of his body.  The vet has repeatedly emphasized that Dannan has to stay very trim, or the stress on his joints will be disabling.  He cannot become overweight, not even close.  It will affect his mobility, lead to arthritis in his joints, all kinds of awful stuff like that.  I have explained this to my father at least fifty times.  (And yes, I am one of those people who exaggerates all the time, but this is no exaggeration.)

So my father likes to share his food with Dannan, and he wants to do it.  So he does.  Even though I’ve repeatedly asked him NOT to do it.  I have explained the reasons why so many times that he should be able to repeat with me, word for word.  I have shown him what a proper portion size is for a piece of apple, which is the only thing he is allowed to feed Dannan.  Dannan gets a piece of apple about the size of my thumb nail.  Dad gives him a third of his apple.  I have asked him not to, I have threatened to not bring Dannan over to the house, I have scolded, and I have become so angry that my voice cracks when I talk.  He doesn’t care;  Dad wants to feed Dannan people food, and so he will.

Fortunately, I seem to finally have gotten through to Dad, at least on the “apples only” front.  I haven’t seen Dad feed Dannan anything but apple in quite a while, even though Dannan and I have been staying at Mom and Dad’s house for a couple of weeks.  I shudder to think what happens when I’m not around.  But I’ll be satisfied with a third of an apple, if that’s all he gives him.  Dannan loves apples, and they’re not bad for him.  I just can’t believe that it took my father almost four years to get the message that this is a matter of health and mobility for Dannan.

Okay, father rant is over.

In other news, my stalker ex did not try to contact me this past weekend when he was in town.  I didn’t even run into him anywhere.  Perhaps he has finally moved on?  I asked my roommate if I was being too paranoid to be so concerned, and she said, “No, after all, we’re talking about The Stalker.”  I’m just relieved and happy.

My other almost up-to-the-minute news is that the house three doors down from my parents’ house burned down this afternoon.  My mother’s friend, Joan, lived there for thirty years before moving to an apartment when she couldn’t handle the yard anymore.  We don’t know any details about the fire, or even if there was someone home when it started.  But the entire city’s fleet of fire trucks were there, ambulance and police in accompaniment.  I hope we hear more about what happened tomorrow, but the media in our city is just plain incompetent.  The t.v. station itself could be on fire, and the story would never appear on the local news.

Finally, I have a big decision to make, and I’m in a quandry.  I might write about it tomorrow.

I was reading the paper this morning, and as usual I read the obituaries.  This is a habit picked up from my father;  he has been a bit obsessed   consumed focused on mortality for the past fifteen or twenty years.  (He is 72.)  Anyway, I always look at the obits, and from time to time I do see that a relative of someone I know (or even sometimes someone I know) has died.

Today, it was the grandmother of my very first boyfriend, whom I will affectionately nickname The Stalker.  (The boyfriend, not his grandmother.)  (And hey, sarcasm alert.)  The funeral is tomorrow, here in town.  All day, my mind has returned to this.

I don’t know if I ever knew the grandmother;  I probably did meet her a few times.  I don’t remember her (obviously).  And my preoccupation really has little to do with her.  What I keep thinking about is that The Stalker will be in town for the funeral.

I met The Stalker when I was 17, just out of high school.  He was a good friend of my best friend’s boyfriend.  I had never dated anyone before.  I’ll skip over the details of our relationship for the most part;  let me just say that I was his first “real” girlfriend, and much of our relationship was not good for my self-esteem.  We broke up and got back together more times than I can remember;  he even cheated on me once (I think;  good gravy, my memory is bad!).  We definitely should have stuck to the first break up, hindsight being what it is.  His mother hated me;  after we broke up for the final time, she drove over to my mother’s house to drop off every copy of any picture that happened to have me in it.  I didn’t like his mother much, either.  She would have been the proverbial MIL from hell.  (Marsha, are you reading this?  Your son would have been lucky to have me.  And thank God, the universe, whatever is out there, that I escaped that fate.)

We broke up for the final time just after my nineteenth birthday, which was in June of 1991.  The Stalker was married on April Fool’s Day of 1992, and their first child followed soon after.  He and his wife (whom I shall call The Poor Wife) had quite a few children (I’m thinking four, or possibly only three), and they all came quickly upon each other’s heels.  Eventually, they moved to a town a few hours away.

But before that, The Stalker would often stop by with his young son to see my mother (who felt sorry for him and always invited him in for a visit).  As more children were born, he would bring them, too.  This was happening every few months for a couple of years, at least.  My mother was too nice to tell him to go away.

Then he and The Poor Wife moved.  The Stalker still had relatives in town, so he was often back for visits.  He would stop by (always without notice) to visit my mother.  Sometimes children in tow, sometimes alone.

During this time, there were a few times that he phoned me.  I was adamant that our relationship was over, never to be rekindled.  Never mind that you’re married with a whole passel of kids.   Leave me alone, dude.

So I was mostly unaware of The Stalker’s drop-in visits to my mother, because he always came when I wasn’t home (I lived with my parents while I did my undergraduate degree), and my mother didn’t tell me.

I ran into him once in the grocery store.  He wanted to go for a drink.  I told him to leave me the hell alone.

So time passed, the visits to my mother continued.  I remain unaware of his frequent visits to my house.

Then, in 1995, I moved to Victoria to become an intern at the BC Legislature.  I had not lived there long, when lo and behold, he somehow got my unlisted phone number and called me.  On my birthday, I do believe.  (Keep in mind, it had been four years at this point.)  How are you doing, are you seeing anybody, happy birthday, you were the love of my life…  I was quite rude and told him again to go to hell and never call me again.

Not long after, I changed my phone number for unrelated reasons.  Things were quiet, things were good.

I started law school in the fall of 1995.  I believe it was the spring of 1996 when the next incident occurred, but I may be wrong.  It was certainly sometime before May of 1997;  my memory is bad, but I moved into a basement suite in May of 1997, and I know this incident happened while I was still living in my bachelor suite apartment.

I was in the middle of studying for exams.  Law school exams.  Major stress-inducing, life-and-death exams.  (Many law school courses are graded based on a final exam which counts for 100 percent of one’s grade.)  I didn’t have time to eat or bathe or buy groceries, I was that busy.

I went and picked up my mail one day, and there was an envelope from The Stalker’s younger sister.  I didn’t know what to make of it;  she and I had remained cordial after the breakup when we ran into each other somewhere, but that was it.

When I opened the envelope, I was shocked to read the sister’s letter.  She explained that she had enclosed a letter from The Poor Wife, and would I please read it.  And also something about doing the right thing, or something like that.

I opened the letter from The Poor Wife with trepidation.  In her letter, she begged me to please let her husband go.  That they had children, that she wanted to make her marriage work.  Please to stay out of The Stalker’s life;  it wasn’t fair to her that I kept on with him.  That he told her all the time that I was the love of his life, and she couldn’t take it anymore.

WTF???

She didn’t use the word “affair”, but it was clear from her letter that she thought that The Stalker and I were still involved, that we were carrying on (and not even behind her back;  she made it clear that he threw it in her face frequently).

Now, it has been at least 4 or 5 years since I kicked this guy to the curb.  You can imagine my utter shock at discovering that The Poor Wife thought that I had anything to do with her wretched spouse.  The only communication that he and I had during those years were a few approaches by him, which I cut short immediately and with clear and unmistakable words telling him that I never wanted to see or hear from him again.

I was furious!!  I felt a lot of pity for The Poor Wife.  And I wanted to chop The Stalker’s testicles off and shove them down his throat.  Not only did he torture his wife, he implicated ME in that torture by telling her that he and I were somehow still together.

I wrote a reply to The Poor Wife, explaining that the only contact we had had since June of 1991 was at his instigation, and always met with me telling him to get out of my life and, for the sake of all that was holy, STAY out.  I told her that I was sorry that she had been lied to by The Stalker and put in the position of having to write such a letter.  And I reiterated that I wanted nothing to do with The Stalker, hadn’t in years, and never would.  I mailed the letter to her through The Stalker’s sister, and I heard no reply.

Through the grapevine, I had heard of their marital problems, that they had separated, that they had reconciled but were having problems, et cetera.  Little did I know that, for The Poor Wife, a significant portion of that strife arose out of her belief that I was having an ongoing affair with her husband.  (Shudder.)

I don’t know exactly what happened to their marriage.  But I do know this:  I moved back home after my breakdown, and sometime in probably 2001 or 2002 (again, damn memory!), he called my parents’ house!  I answered the phone, and he said that he’d heard I was back in town, we should get together for a drink and talk.

Again, WTF???

I have never been so rude or plain-spoken as I have been with this person, right from the beginning.  If you ask people who know me, I am diplomatic almost to a fault.  I speak with great tact, generally.  But NEVER in this whole farce had I ever been anything but blunt and clear.

And now, I was angry.  And not especially stable in terms of my illness.  And at the absolute end of my rope, because, holy hell!

I told him (again!) that I didn’t want to get together with him to talk.  I didn’t want him to call me on the phone.  I didn’t want to ever see or hear from him again, ever, not once more in my lifetime.  He was hurt and claimed not to understand.  I repeated, don’t ever contact me again, in any way, shape, or form.  Fuck the hell off, already!

It was after this call that I learned from my mother that during all those years, he had been dropping by to visit her.  She said she had felt too sorry for him to tell him to stop doing it.  I explained that if he should ever darken her door again, she should tell him, in no uncertain terms, not to return.  Ever.

So, that’s the story of The Stalker.  A few weeks ago, I was looking on facebook at a high school reunion group.  There he was, staring out at me from his (brief) facebook profile.  Good lord, will I ever be free of this guy?  After that accidental discovery, every once of a while, his face would pop into my mind.  I had a distinct feeling of unease each time this happened.

That brings us to today.  And I can’t stop thinking, knowing my luck (and him), I will run into him this weekend somewhere.  It feels almost unavoidable.  Will he be at the restaurant where I’m having dinner with friends tomorrow night?  If I go to Safeway, will I run into him there?  God forbid, will he call or try to drop by???

I realize that this is paranoid, but at the same time, it seems justified.  I have a very uneasy feeling.

Well, either the weekend will pass uneventfully (in which case, I will feel paranoid but very relieved), or he will somehow reappear, like the unluckiest penny in the universe.  And if that happens, I will have fodder for another post.  Gotta look at the silver lining, right?

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