After the emotional shit storm of destruction caused by the stalker, nothing and no where felt nor feels “safe”.
The stalker served no jail time for a Class 5 felony, apparently it was his first run-in with the law, so he walked away “free” in my eyes. I don’t believe I was the first woman he stalked with obsession, but it was the first time he was held accountable. In my eyes…he could find me at any moment and finish me off.
He didn’t have the repercussions I did. I don’t even know if the conviction stayed on his record. He was married when it happened, and to this day still married to the same woman and now has children with her. He got to move on, live his life…with no one hiding in the dark shadows for him.
I on the other hand developed a horrible fear that has been wreaking havoc in my life for 15+ yrs now. I read the book The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker right after he was arrested. Hands down the best book for a woman walking through this type of experience, I also read The Psychology of Stalking: Clinical and Forensic Perspectives by J. Reid Melloy. The stalker and me never had a romantic relationship between us, we just worked together. His obsession was completely created from his own sick twisted version of reality. These books gave me a sense of “armor” for my future. How to be safe, recognize red flags and be more aware of my surroundings; fantastic skills all women should have.
The experience made me weary of everywhere I went, including just being at home. I could no longer go to any event with more than 50 people attending that I didn’t know. I drive with such an acute awareness that any distance of more than 2 hours away wipe me out for 12+ hours once I arrive at my destination. I have insomnia still, but back then the insomnia was so bad that a night of 3 hours of sleep was a good night. I’d stay in such a hypervigilant state that I’d check my windows and doors every hour through the night. I’m still hypervigilant, just don’t obsess over the doors and windows anymore, unless my husband goes out-of-town.
Needless to say, no where felt safe during that time, except for 2 places. 1. My bed with all lights out, 3 inch dowels jammed into each window, doors deadbolted, alarm system activated, wolf hybrid dog by my side and my .38 snub nosed pistol loaded under my pillow. #2. My dad’s place high in the mountains, where a cars headlights will wake you, our great pyranese would bark and growl at any human or animal she would see, smell or hear and knowing my dad was in the same house as me and has always protected me at all costs.
I’d been an extrovert my whole life, outgoing, talkative, curious and explorative. Now I’m mostly an introvert, quietly observing, assessing, reviewing, analyzing, plotting my escape if needed and processing how I would kick someone’s ass if needed.
This type of PTSD does not go away, not completely. I worked hard seeing a psychologist once to twice per week for a year, did EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy), psychiatric medications and time. Again 15+ years ago and still today only these 2 places make me feel safe. As I lay here in bed at my dad’s mountain home feeling safe, feeling the “let down” of the hypervigilance leave me; I realize that I have a lot of work to still do.
Will I ever feel safe again? Will I ever go to concerts again, state or county fairs? Will I ever not need to conceal carry my gun? Will I ever stop looking over my shoulder? Will my agoraphobia go away? Will my panic attacks stop? Will the bumps in the night subside? So many fears and questions that spin through my head.
Hopefully the EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) tapping treatment will allow the original ME to return, the new medication will help and I’LL feel “free” once again. Wouldn’t that be nice.
Until then…I guess this is my normal. Dear God I hope this isn’t forever.