living out loud

process, part 3: bait and hook.

Well, I tried to keep it short, but I needed to get a lot out and I needed to get a lot out in one fell swoop. If you’ve got time and like a good side show (sorry I’m not making a weepy video to go with this), get comfy:

Oh, ha. You guys! You are going to laugh and LAUGH at me. Because in a complete 180 degree flip, I’ve decided not to continue processing the stalking via writing here. I’m going to “process” it one time out loud, in this entry, and then finish processing on my own, offline and privately, with people I know and love using a combination of talk therapy, long handed angry writes, and meditating (possibly sometimes over bottles of Pinot Noir). If I need to vent or get something out so I can move on, I’ll pick up a phone or email someone close to me or just get it out in writing even though my hand goes to sleep because I think I may have carpal tunnel syndrome.

I did not make the decision because of anything he said or did. I’ve said I have nothing but contempt or disdain for him, but actually I’m not sure that’s really what I feel – I think I’m just completely disgusted and angry and disappointed. I once cared about him quite a lot because I believed his lies. I can’t tell you how much I sift through memories and go: “Goddammit, that was a red flag!” or “Dammit, he was totally lying!” or “For real?! How did I not see through that?!” So now that I know he lies and backtracks and adapts and re-adapts constantly to make himself exactly what he thinks you want, I know who and what he is. He’s quite possibly the saddest, most unstable, pathetic human being I’ve ever let into my life. And that’s not calling him names, that’s describing him. I feel anger about what he did, and it’ll take a long time for that to go away. He had no right to do that to me. I’ve had friends who didn’t come through for me or have disappointed me, but I have never stalked or verbally abused a friend because of that and then made excuses for my behavior and pretended to be so saintly afterward. So I kinda feel like I want to say I hate him, but that would indicate I still feel something for him. If anything I feel a blankness toward him. Maybe quite a bit of sadness. He’s so desperate for validation and acknowledgement. And all he has is Twitter.

So I made the decision because I am tired of letting him have any kind of power over me.  All these blog entries I’ve written about him, all this time I’ve wasted on him – that where his power is. So I’m coming to my senses. I have other stuff to worry about, other things (good and bad) happening around me. I got shit to do, and he’s wasting my time. But mostly I changed my mind because my friend D (and J and M and R and C and A and a whole bunch of other alphabet letters) was right: doing it here will just make him happy. It’ll feed his cray cray because he doesn’t care what kind of attention he gets from me good or bad. He just wants to know I’m thinking about him and that he has an effect on me. And that’s going to stop. That is absolutely going to stop. I am going to shove my knowledge of him to the bottom of a very deep part of me, and if I can do it, I’ll will him into non-existence. He can call me names directly or vaguely or put up some dumb picture quote to try to shame me or make himself feel superior. He’s big into shaming other people, possibly because that’s what has always worked for him in controlling other people. Shame actually has the opposite effect on me; I was raised by two people who weren’t completely functional but were completely loving and so I actually have enough self-esteem to recognize what abuse looks and feels like. When he screamed at me on Twitter private messages when I asked for a break in August, I knew it. I knew he was an abuser. But I was so overwhelmed by work and life, I went back into the friendship because it would have just been too much. But the whole time I was back, everything he said was just looming in the back of my mind. He was sweet and kind and I trusted him again, but it was in there. You can’t unsay abuse; he showed me who he was and I chose not to believe him. I’m going to learn from that.

My bigger mistake was that I continued to trust him, and even though I knew what he was capable of, I continued to share parts of my life with him I should have only shared with my very closest and dearest friends. He once made a statement about the fact HE was my closest friend in life, and I completely bristled. That was such a red flag; he was not my closest friend, my closest friend lives here in Georgia. He was setting me up, and trying to control me so he could get what he wanted. I still feel so stupid about ever believing anything he ever said to me.

So he can do whatever he needs to do to make himself feel better: accuse me of lying to him for months which ironically is a lie itself, he can call me names, connect me to evil, whatever. Don’t really care about his whiny demands, bitter rants, or self-centered feelings now. I’m done talking about him – on the one hand, I bet that makes him pretty happy, because now he can go dance around impishly on his stupid Twitter page and pretend like he’s a nice, normal guy who just had a little blip (it was NOT a little blip – it was fucking nuclear bomb). On the other hand, oh how sad for him. The semi-engagement with Amy and being in her head are closing up shop, at least on this end. He will actually need to find fresh meat; this piece is done fried.

What I WILL do at some point when I’m more emotionally beyond what happened is write about cyberstalking and harassment in general. In fact, why limit it to just a blog no one really reads except my mom and a crazy stalker guy? Why not just write a real, official article and see if I can get it published somewhere, I dunno…nationally? Abuse is insidious in all its forms, and he continues to be abusive because he continues to try to shame me. I will never, ever, EVER shut up about stalking, harassment, and abuse, and I will fight both stalking and abuse until my very last breath. I’m going to be part of the solution, not the problem, and I will not be silenced. I’m finished being scared and now I’m just mad.

Here’s what happened today to bring me to this tired, angry-yet-detached place I’m at:

First, I didn’t sleep well. Second, it was a long day. I didn’t shower this morning, just threw clothes on and went to work. It’s getting warmer and so I was feeling pretty sweaty/grungy by 11 AM. I gave quizzes and taught contrast/compare and we also had to have a 30 minute impromptu lesson on bait-and-hook. Do you know about bait-and-hook? Here’s the bait-and-hook concept: so there are fishermen, right? And they put worms on hooks to lure fish over hoping the fish will bite and then BAM! It’s on their hook and they got it! Reeling it out of the water.

Today, one of my boys had a meltdown because someone asked him what 2,000 + 300 was and he said 5,000. The other kid told him it was 2,300 and he was stupid. And the kid who answered 5,000 flipped him off and got in trouble with a teacher on duty. Bait: “Hey, what’s 2,000+300? Bet you don’t know!” Hook: “2300?! You’re stupid!” Fish out of water: Kid flipping off the fisherman, teacher on duty being alerted by fisherman. Kids are raw, y’all. No mercy.

So we had a long talk about how some people are like fishermen. They dangle worms in front of you, and hope you can’t tell there’s also a hook. And if you chomp their worm, BAM! They got you – you’re on their hook. So we talked about things we could do to be smarter than that. Because fish are actually really smart; I told them C’s hobby is fishing and one of the reasons he loves it is because he has to think smarter than a fish. So don’t let the fishermen win.

Strategies they came up with (with some grown up guidance):

*Walk away and ignore them.

*Laugh and make a joke.

*If the fisherman asks you a question, just say, “Nah. I’m good.” and don’t answer.

*If the fisherman tells you your drawing is dumb or your shoes are ugly or your mom is fat just shrug and say, “That’s just your opinion. Doesn’t make it true.”

*Agree with them, it throws them off.

Oh my god, you guys. These kids. THESE KIDS. omg, I’ll really miss seeing them every day next year. They’re freaking exhausting the crap out of me right now with their very typical kid behavior (multiplied by 23 of them), but in moments like that? I just want to cry. Lands they’ve got heart. Big, big heart.

But as we were in the midst of the class meeting slash psychological counseling session, I realized: holy creepers, Batman. My stalker! My freaking internet lunatic. What a total fisherman. He’s been baiting me and hooking me for god knows how long, probably since I met him last March but definitely since he went haywire in October. And I took the bait. Every single time.

After I posted that video Thursday night, I felt so dumb. I felt dumb because I cried on it, and then I felt dumb because gah. He probably masturbated to it, he’s so full of glee whenever I let him see he has any kind of effect on me. He justifies his bad behavior all the time, saying he just was so full of heart and love he couldn’t bear to give up on our “friendship”; he’s awesomer than me because he fights to keep his relationships.

No. He is incorrect. What he did was not fight to keep a relationship. What he did was be a stubborn, self-centered, self-absorbed dickhead who tried to make someone who wanted to be free his prisoner.

Here’s what fighting for a relationship ACTUALLY looks like: you make a commitment to someone…you spend 13 out of 15 years changing everything you can about yourself to the point you’re not sure where you end and they begin anymore…you are not happy and you leave them…then you come back because there are so many good things about them, you can’t not give it one more chance…you have a child with them…then you wake up at some point and realize very little has changed from when you left the first time except now you are older and more confident in many ways and you have a kid…and because you have a kid and you know all the good things about the other person, you don’t just up and leave again, you go in and out of counselors’ offices for 2 years, you spend a lot of nights talking (TALKING, not name calling and verbally abusing each other)…you calmly decide, together, that maybe after 15 years this isn’t going to work, we did our best…you calmly decide to separate and legally end your 6 year marriage, but also a relationship you worked hard at for 15 years. And so you leave, and you leave calmly and rationally and even though they still do things you disagree with, you are sad. You are sad. But you also know it wasn’t working and it’s not where you need to be now.

THAT’S fighting to save a relationship and so fuck him for saying I just abandoned him, that I wasn’t who or what I said I was, and that I misled him.

And what makes me really mad about that is that one of the reasons the friendship even lasted until October was because I actually did stay and fought. I actually DO talk things out, calmly and rationally. I just didn’t want to and couldn’t with him because he showed me I couldn’t. And I DIDN’T just up and abandon him. I stuck around long after he showed me I SHOULD have just up and abandoned him. He is lying about all of that, to other people and himself.  I know me, and so I’m pretty sure I’m no walk in the park of peaceful enlightenment. But when I decide I love you? I love you hard and I love you big and I DON’T give up. I’m a runner when I can see I’m somewhere that’s bad. I don’t just run for no reason. When I decide to give up, trust: there have been numerous prior incidents that got me to that point. If my love for you ends and I have to leave because I’m at a point I need to cut you out of my life, it’s 100% because you handed me the scissors.

Oh, y’all. I am so tired. I am glad summer vacation is just around the corner; I am going to need almost all 8 weeks to soothe my tired heart and rest my exhausted soul.

So I did the Bait and Hook lesson today. And I thought about a handful of people I really care about and some of the insanely hard things they’re dealing with right now, things this stalker doesn’t even have the human capacity to deal with, and I just…I don’t even feel anything for him right now, beyond immense exhaustion and sadness. I have more important people around me who DON’T lie to me to care about. In addition, I have more hard stuff coming up – I decided to renew my lease today for another 13 months. Which means C and I are going to have to have a hard, weepy talk about what we need to do next. I need to start running and lifting weights again, because I need to do something that will give me confidence and focus. I need to get ready to re-enter and re-train on how to do ESOL next year, I need to write things that aren’t a blog entry.

I read an article the other day about the grieving process that happens after you’ve been scary-stalked and harassed. Go HERE to read it. But basically, all of what she wrote as conditions of being stalked I’ve dealt with: hypervigilance, hyperarousal, mood swings, sleep issues, loss of self…check, check, check, check, and check. Which is why I suspect the process of getting over being stalked is very similar to the grieving process: it doesn’t happen overnight, there are stages, it’s normal to move back and forth between the stages even getting stuck in one for a long while, until finally you reach the last stage and are able to adapt to the new normal. So I can do this. I did this with my dad’s death – I moved through the stages and got used to the new normal. I’ve been stalked and abused, I am different now, I will never be the same girl I was a year ago. This is not necessarily a bad thing, I just need to get used to it. And block him not just on Twitter but from my entire brain.

I will say this, though: if this jack knob EVER comes back and tries to hurt me again, or if he EVER tries in ANY way to hurt or intimidate or make disgusting allegations to or about me or ANYONE I care about, Phase II will initiate. I am done playing immature middle school level games. I love magic and fantasy and imagination, but I do actually exist in an adult reality. I have no problem at this point, after all he’s done, hitting the button and launching Phase II. I’m kind and nice and full of love and peaceful…until you give me a good reason not to be. So yes. Going to forget about the stalker, unless he reminds me of his existence. Then: Phase II. The stalker will know what I mean by “Phase II.” And he’ll also appreciate I didn’t initiate Phase I when I originally should have. And yes, that sounds very ominous and threatening of me, and oooh aren’t I being just like him? No, I’m not. I’m being proactive and assertive. (Email me, and I’m happy to share screen shots of some of the bullshit I had to deal with from October-February. You’ll understand why I decided to throw in this whooole paragraph.)

Okay! All done! At least here, and publicly. He’ll eventually get bored when I stop talking about what he did and about him, and (pray god) will find something else to fixate on. In the meantime, when you come here, I’ll have only stories. Stories and thoughts and thoughts about stories. All stories, all the time. Irreverent over shares with shades of drama thrown in for the sheer entertainment value. And if I can’t do that, my promise is I’ll stay off the Internet.

….okay fine. No I won’t. But my absolute promise is if I get all weird, I’ll try to do it on Twitter before I do it here. Okay? Not too many people listen to me there, and the ones who do pay attention to me are totally used to my weird overly dramatic whiny by now (I like to think).

Love you guys who’ve stuck around with me for a long time and through this, even if we’ve never talked and you’re just a silent reader. Thanks for putting up with me. I’m going to fix this issue I’m having and be okay. (And my money issues are kinda straightening out, so I’ll probably call up my counselor next month and go have a nice, big, cathartic chat.)