One woman’s struggle with persistent unwanted advances, the negative affect one person can have on her and her family, & the silence she hopes means the end.
The air is sucked out of the room. Staring at the phone, unable to believe the text that I’m reading. “Do you love me, like I love you?” I am alone, my husband gone for the weekend and I am reading a text from his friend…. A family friend. I must be interpreting this wrong.
My reply was meant to clear up whatever was going on (because I assure you–nothing was going on), reminding him that we were friends, nothing more. But instead, a new person emerged from the ashes of the friend my husband and I once had. One that took up space every day, repetitively demanding my attention, at first in an attempt to regain our trust, followed by a world he had invented for himself, taking pieces of my life and turning them into a story that included him as the hero.
I fought him with silence. Passively aggressively ignoring the waterfall of texts, likes and comments at every social media turn. I was certain he would eventually he would go away, but he didn’t. He stuck to me. Even in his silence, his attention was like fly paper against my skin. My phone, announcing a text sent chills down my spine. I stayed away from social media afraid that I was encouraging him. Then finally, a moment of silence.
He believed he was the hero in a dark romance I had written. He believed my husband was the villain. My one creative outlet became haunted with his comments, tainted with texts and detailed invitations of escape, which I also ignored.
I did not suffer alone. My husband held my hand and bit his tongue, as requested. My friends defended me when he reached out to them to speak on his behalf. I blocked him from Facebook, Pinterest and we even blocked him from commenting on Empress Tea. I deleted mutual friends that I feared he might be using to watch me. This was my last defense, at least my last passive aggressive defense. If he persisted…
Then, another stretch of silence. In the past I couldn’t read the texts he sent. Scanning them, understanding the intent, picking out keywords, so the memory of this last text is a bit vague. It was sent on New Year’s Eve, he was still asking me to runaway with him. It was time.
“I love my husband,” I replied. “I have no intention of leaving him. My next step is to call the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police.) Please don’t reply, not even to apologize.”
Respectful silence. Message received. That brief time of violation over. The harmful space he took up in my life has trickled over to the present. It is a part of my life, which at this point has no ending. This is a story I’m embarrassed to tell, for reasons I can’t hold down. It touches my relationships with other men, when I’m afraid to of appearing too friendly, for fear of inspiring a sequel. Wondering if the silence is really permanent, afraid that whatever he was dealing with in his life, has not passed.
Though, the triumphs are big. My phone is no longer a source of darkness. I feel safe on social media and protected by those I love. More time is needed to trust again.
Stalking is conservatively defined as “a course of conduct directed at a specific person that involves repeated (two or more occasions) visual or physical proximity, nonconsensual communication, or verbal, written, or implied threats, or a combination thereof, that would cause a reasonable person fear.” (https://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/stalking/pages/welcome.aspx)
**Editor’s Note: because more definitions are needed, see below…
(1) : to annoy persistently (2) : to create an unpleasant or hostile situation, especially by uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct Merriam-Webster (3) :
(1) : not wanted or desired Collins
(1) : forbearance from speech or noise (2) : absence of sound or noise (3) : absence of mention Merriam-Webster
Photo credit: www.afipi.com