It happened. Again. I found myself staring into the face of the man who turned my life upside down. The man who just six years ago threatened to kill me.
Just ten minutes earlier, I had walked into a bar with coworkers after an evening of festivities and celebration. It was a spontaneous deal, walking down the street to see whatever bar we could find first. We were especially hoping to run across some good karaoke. As luck would have it, the first bar we found was going to start karaoke in half an hour. Score! The five of us walked in, inhaling the glorious smell of fresh pizza. We quickly snagged a spot to stand by the bar, ordering drinks right away.
I don’t remember the conversation. I don’t even remember who I was talking to. I just remember sipping on my drink when suddenly a group of people caught my attention in the corner of my eye. I turned to look, and there he was, staring right at me, smiling.
My heart dropped into my stomach. For a second that felt like eternity, I froze. I immediately had to make a decision. Run. Just run.
I turned to my group. “I’m so sorry, I have to go.” They were confusedly looking at me like I had just grown a unicorn horn on my head. I turned to my office manager, “My stalker’s here, I have to go.”
She quickly grabbed my hand and we bolted toward the door. The only way to leave was straight past him. I had to walk a foot in front of him.
“Hey-” he started as I passed by him.
“I’m sorry, I have to go.” I said.
Suddenly, we were out the door, down the street, huddled in a doorway. I felt a rush of heat to my head and tears started welling up in my eyes. I kept trying to dab at them with the sleeve of my jacket and fan air onto my face with my hands. I couldn’t control it.
Six years ago, I was about to be a freshman at Pacific Lutheran University. Like most freshman, I was excited, and nervous, but mostly excited. I couldn’t have imagined the terror that would take over my life for the next eight months.
I was in a community theatre production of Grease that summer. One rehearsal, we had talked about books we wanted to read. I casually mentioned how I always wanted to read 1984 by George Orwell. The next day, it showed up on my doorstep, signed from one of the chorus members. We’ll call him X. I didn’t know how he found my address, but I shrugged it off thinking it must have been on a roster at the theatre.
After I went to school, the gifts didn’t stop. Now I knew there was something very strange, as it was pretty difficult to find out which dorm a student was staying in. He would have had to research that pretty extensively… or follow me.
Soon, the gifts turned into love letters. I told X I really wasn’t interested in dating. After all, I had just started college and was really focused on my studies. Then, he started to show up on campus. At this point, I decided to block him on all my social media. His favorite place to wait was inside the cafeteria. I’d have to eat sometime, right? I’d come out of a morning class to find text messages from friends saying they saw X in the cafeteria. Hours later for dinner, he’d still be there, waiting for me. Again, I told him I wasn’t interested.
During finals week in December, I had just taken a final and felt really good about it. Right before heading to work as a dorm receptionist, I posted on Facebook about what a perfect day it had been. The only thing that could make it better was a glass of eggnog, my favorite holiday drink. Thirty minutes into my shift, X follows some students through the front door of the dorm, eggnog and glasses in hand. He parked himself at my desk, triumphant. I quickly texted one of my best college friends that X was here at work. He quickly assembled a team of guys and they came to the desk to hang out with me (and X.) Not wanting to cause a scene, none of us told him to leave.
After work (two and a half hours later), I made some excuses about needing to go to the library to check out some books. My male entourage piped in that they were headed there too. X quickly said he’d join in, because why not. We all went through the motions of checking out random books. Eventually, I said to them that it was getting late and I should get to sleep. All of them walked me back to my dorm room, X not taking the hint to just leave already.
It was that night that I finally figured out X had made a fake Facebook profile under a different name after I had blocked him. I found the fake profile and blocked it too.
Still, the love letters continued. He showed up to campus. I told him to leave me alone, and then I stopped responding altogether. Finally, it all came to a head in January. He texted me a series of stories, about how we were a continuously reincarnated couple, meant to be together. But in each life, I would refuse him and he would have to kill me. Then, conveniently, we’d be reborn in our next life. The cycle would continue until I decided to be his partner. This was followed by a sexually explicit message, containing a not so thinly veiled death threat. What a combo.
I showed another friend the message and he helped me to make my first phone call to the police. Two police officers showed up at my dorm. They took my account of the story. One of the officers asked coldly to see my phone, saying he needed to make sure I was telling the truth. I remember looking at their totally unsympathetic faces, standing over me as I sat on the lobby couch at 2:00 am, feeling both guilty and helpless. Was I overreacting?
Check in tomorrow for Part II of my story. This is the first piece of a four part series.