The Stalker Part 2

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As I promised when I felt safe to come back to this trauma I would share what I could.  It’s a “moment” that I recently worked through in EMDR and I can now share without a trigger.  I have to say that EMDR has come a long way and the process is much gentler and effective than it was 16 years ago.  Here’s my experience.

I was working at the hospital and John was no longer employed there.  He had left a note at my home prior to this moment that we could now be together because we no longer worked together.  I didn’t anticipate this next experience to happen.

There was a celebration at the hospital in the cafeteria with a new menu and roll out of food, so I decided to venture down and have lunch.  I felt safe because he wasn’t working there anymore.  Like most cafeteria’s you go through the buffet style lines and walk to the cashier to pay for your food before entering the dinning area.  When at the cashier line you can see the entire dinning area.  As I stood there in line, which as quite long, I gazed out over the dinning area.  Checking to see if there was a place to sit since there were so many people.  There was a column in my way so I couldn’t see every area.  As I reached the cashier closer I could peek around the column, and there he was.  Sitting perfectly to be able to see the line at the cashier.  I started trembling and shaking and we locked eyes.

My heart is pounding right now as I write this, but I know right now I am safe in my home with my dog and John isn’t here….so I’m pressing on.

When we locked eyes John got this sinister grin on his face, I’ll never forget it.  Creepy grin of ” You see me now and I see you…are you afraid yet”.  I was horrified.  He lifted his right hand and made it look like a gun, pointing his index finger at me with his thumb straight up….then POW!  He pretends to shoot me with his hand shaped gun.  I gasped, locked up and dropped my plate.  I ran out of there through the back area where you enter so I didn’t have to go past him to get out.

I walked/ran as fast as I could down that cold windowless basement hallway crying and saying out loud “Oh my God, oh my God”. My mind racing with thoughts of “He’s going to kill me. Why would he do that? He’s going to kill me.”  I entered a panic attack once I got to my office and sat down in a back closet so he couldn’t find me.  I called security from the phone in this closet that once served as an office.  They came right away and the lead security officer was a friend and he was very helpful.  He comforted me and called for the other guards to have John removed, there was no reason for him to be at the hospital.  My friend “Murray” listened to my story of what had transpired for months prior to this event and he became my biggest advocate.

Murray went to the executive office and spoke with the Chief Operating Officer, they got me an executive parking pass so I could park in a secure area where the executives parked.  They made note of everything and issued a letter to John telling him that he had no reason to ever be on the hospital grounds and if he returns that they would call the police.  They installed a panic button under my desk.  They reassured my safety and were fantastic at helping me.

Murray had a guard get my car from the parking garage and place it in the secure area.  Then he drove me to the County Court House where I resided to obtain a restraining order.  The order was a temporary restraining order, but I thought it was something that would protect me.  As I got the TRO I was reminded that John now worked in the cafeteria of THAT county court-house.  Can you believe it?  This fucktard worked where I was having to legally stop him from coming around me.  I couldn’t believe it.

A friend from high school was on the police force in the city I resided in, and after I told him what was happening he increased police presence on my street.

At this point I was secure at work for parking, panic button placed, security well aware of him; TRO in hand and local police increasing their rounds on my street.  I felt like I was getting somewhere.  I prayed for all of this to scare him enough to stay away from me and to just vanish.

A TRO is a piece of paper…A PIECE OF PAPER TO PROTECT MY LIFE! It was a good start legally for what was going to happen down the road, but pieces of paper don’t stop a bullet, a hand coming at you or any other physical assaults.  IT’S A PIECE OF PAPER…USELESS! So I called Kojak and he came over and helped me order and get a highly effective security system installed in my home.  Panic buttons in 3 rooms, every window and door was activated.  I could have obtained motion sensors in my house, but with my son, a little boy, who wanders in his sleep that wasn’t a good option.  It was a hefty financial burden, but money was needed for protection. Then Kojak and I called my attorney, who in turn wrote a letter to John for a “cease & desist” all contact per the TRO.

Kojak gave me pointers on leaving my home and traveling.  I no longer took the same routes to and from work and my son’s school.  Use different stores each time.  Carry my cars key-fob with my thumb on the panic alarm and keys pointing out between each finger as a weapon when walking to and from my car.  Taught me how to watch for someone following me as I drove.  Taught me to be vigilant of my surroundings.

You’d think with all of this I would be able to sleep, calm down and feel safe.  This is when I became “hyper-vigilant” and my world of sleep no longer existed.  I paced through my house 6-10 times per night checking on my son and windows and doors and security system activation.  This became my new normal and it has stuck with me for 16 years.

I won’t be doing EMDR again for another couple of weeks.  The process takes its toll on me and I have to keep processing the trauma’s slowly.  I’ve stayed away a bit from blogging because I’m so afraid of getting triggered.  I sometimes feel like blogging can be a task on my mind that causes me more anxiety.  I don’t want my readers to fall away as I know there are many who have appreciated these stories for their own healing.  I’m doing my best.  I’m plowing/pushing through as I can.

Right now the evil forces of negative energy has been attacking me recently, through my own experiences, my oldest son, my husband, my father and sister.  This evil doesn’t want me to heal, it wants to suppress me and keep me down.  It attacks my family which affects me.  God is bigger than these evil enemy forces and I trust in Him.  He has my back and I know I will come out of this a better version of myself, His strength is in me and I will be a testament to His love for us.

 

Photo credit: Jeff Garner

http://www.jeffgarnerimagery.com

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Back To The Healing Board

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How much I wish I could go back to the drawing board and rewrite the stalker story. Didn’t expect the opening of this wound would be so re-traumatizing.  Really makes me want to crawl back into a hole and never face it again, but I’m a warrior at heart and that bastard will not win.

Anytime I’m faced with an obstacle I research it. I learn more about it and make it my mission to better understand it and how to work through it.  During the initial healing of the stalker I read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker  and The Psychology of Stalking Clinical and Forensic Perspectives by J. Reid Meloy. Both fantastic books for educating and arming yourself with helpful tools.

Now that it’s 17 years later and facing it yet again, I’m on the search for knowledge. I found a great article about being stalked and affects, yet it speaks of only initial treatment, not treatment nor effects some time later. I also can’t help but see that my story would have been more successful if I hadn’t had an emotionally abusive childhood, rape and physical abuse post stalking. I believe having been challenged with Complex-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, it’s hindering my recovery process this time. My psychologist said based on my history I could be looking at 3 months to over a year of treatment on the stalker issue alone.

A year? Feels like a lifetime. It almost has been a lifetime of destruction and mental trauma. Going back to square one with this is daunting, frustrating and tiresome. Yet I’m finding the strength through God to face it and fight it.

I recently found this article and the more I researched this doctor the more I’m intrigued to learn more. I’m hoping to contact him and ask him how he feels about his article and knowledge based on pre-trauma experiences in the mix. Stalking victims get VERY LITTLE for help from local victim services, they only pay for counseling and treatment for up to a year. There was more money spent by the county trying to rehabilitate John then heal me. Seventeen years later…no help from VS.  No restitution paid to me for possible returning symptoms or flashbacks. Our court system is flawed in this area. Not enough of this to go around for the courts to notice? It’s ming boggling.

Check out this article.

“What stalking victims need to restore their mental and somatic health”

Give me some feedback if you can. Help me brainstorm. I’m not giving up and I’m determined to survive this once again.

The Stalking Part 1

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My friend the private investigator is an amazing man, for the sake of privacy I’ll call him Kojak. Let’s be honest, Kojak was a badass and so is my friend…he’d be giggling if he knew I named him this.

Kojak came over right away and helped me strategize how to best handle John’s behavior.

  1. We made a plan to make my house safe until I could afford a security system. We put 3 inch dowels into each window. Secured the garage door. Put timers on lights.
  2. We bought disposable cameras and placed them around the house next to all of the windows and doors. In case John showed up, drove by, I could take pictures for proof. Every morning I took a picture of the newspaper with each camera to prove the picture was from that day. I also put one in my car.
  3. We installed night sensor lights around the outside of the house and secured my gate. We even stretched barbed wire across the top of my fence.
  4. I called the local police and had them come over for a first initial report, which they looked at me like I was bat shit crazy and didn’t take me seriously.
  5. I gave Kojak all of John’s information that I could find and he started a back ground investigation on him.

Good start to what I thought would be easy to maneuver and document, and I actually got some sleep that night.

Within 2 days Kojak had this dudes story and it was a weird one. John was a personal chef for a very famous Playboy bunny for about 2 years and left that job to become a chef in a cafeteria in the basement of a not so famous hospital. Kojak spoke with John’s previous employer’s personal assistant and she said “Regretfully I cannot divulge any information about the reason for separation of his employment. I’m so sorry this is happening to her too“. Hmmmmm.

John left the hospital job and was now working in the cafeteria of my county court-house.  He was employed through a food service industry contractor.

Kojak confirmed that John was indeed married and bought his home with a large down payment after he “left” his cush job for the Playboy bunny. John’s record was squeaky clean, nothing else jumped out.

A couple of weeks later I came home to a VHS tape in an envelope at my door. I called Kojak and he came over to watch it with me. John video taped himself driving through the mountains and talking to me and played me “special” songs on his radio. He proceeded to tell me that we could have a perfect life together if I’d just give him a chance. He said he quit the hospital job since I said I wouldn’t date people I worked with and now we could be together.  He said he loved me and would do anything to have me.

I remember being sick to my stomach and shaking all over. Kojak had me call the police and report it, so I did. The police told me that I should just “ignore him” and he’ll get bored and go away. Completely unhelpful and again looked at me like I was crazy.

About another week later I came home to another larger envelope with another VHS tape and a shirt. Kojak was out-of-town so I watched it by myself. This time John was taping himself while riding a dirt bike through the mountains and then would stop and tell me how great our adventures could be together if I’d just give him a chance. That the shirt he’s given me was one of his favorite shirts as seen on him currently wearing in the video, that he wanted me to sleep in it and think of him. That he’d find great pleasure knowing I’d be inside his shirt like he was constantly holding me.

I called the police again, and again there was no harm done, just ignore him and he’ll eventually get bored and go away.

A few weeks went by and it was quiet, almost too quiet. I remember my girl friend coming over on a Saturday night and we watched the movie Caddyshack and drank some wine. This movie used to crack me up to no end, and the gopher bit was hands down hilarious. I remember at the end of the movie it shows the gopher dancing and my friend and I were pretty buzzed from the wine and we got up and danced like the gopher. It was a great night.

Two weeks later I come home again to find a box on my doorstep.  Inside was a replica of the gopher in Caddyshack and a button to push, when you pushed the button it would play the Caddyshack song and the gopher would dance. The handwritten letter stated “I loved watching you dance. I look forward to the day we can dance together. Love John”.

That creepy fucker has been watching me through my windows! I flipped out and called the police again, and they said since I didn’t catch him in the act there’s nothing they could do. Just stay vigilant. I couldn’t sleep and from that point on for years I’ve never slept through an entire night again. I was up every hour peeking out my windows to see if I could see him and I still do it to this day.

Luckily my neighbor saw the truck he was driving the day he delivered the gopher. Another friend who was an attorney wrote a letter to John telling him that he is to no longer contact me through any method, no longer come to my home as my neighbors and I all knew his truck, that the police have been notified and he was to cease and desist all contact, gifts and communication with me. Kojak gave him John’s address and he mailed the letter.

After a month of not hearing from him I thought “it” was over. Wrong. It just made things worse. I’m stopping for now, it was hard enough to build up the courage to blog about this part.  I appreciate all of the encouraging words I’ve been getting from my readers and followers, it’s very helpful.

The photo featured in this stalker series was taken by a lifetime friend who has mad talent and with his permission I am using this picture. It represents so much doom and darkness and fear to me and resonated with me down to my bones.

Photo credit: Jeff Garner

http://www.jeffgarnerimagery.com

 

 

My Date With A Grocery Cart

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Having a form of agoraphobia is excruciating. My fears take control of my body and paralyze me from the inside out. “What if” scenarios play in fast forward and on repeat. I am incapable of attending large crowd functions like concerts or festivals. I do attempt it and choose to go to them early when the crowds are small, yet when the crowd becomes more than a 1000 people and loud…I’m done.  My flight response is immediate.

I run in a hypervigilant state consistently, even in my own home. While sleeping, it’s as if I have an awakened sense running at all times, the minute I hear anything, I’m awake. The best way to describe my awareness settings is from a book written by Jeff Cooper – Principals of Personal Defense / Combat Mindset and the Cooper Color Code and The Carry Book: Minnesota Edition.  He describes levels of awareness as follows

“In White you are unprepared and unready to take lethal action. If you are attacked in White you will probably die unless your adversary is totally inept.

In Yellow you bring yourself to the understanding that your life may be in danger and that you may have to do something about it.

In Orange you have determined upon a specific adversary and are prepared to take action which may result in his death, but you are not in a lethal mode. 

In Red you are in a lethal mode and will shoot if circumstances warrant.”

I run yellow 24/7. When I go to the store, church or to someone’s home; I move up to orange. When a crowd suddenly increases or chaos appears, I switch to red. Going anywhere is mentally and physically exhausting.

I have my Conceal Carry Weapon permit, but I don’t usually carry. Not because I’m afraid of my weapon, but more afraid of hitting the Red zone and using it under a hypervigilant state of irrationality.

If I’m with my husband I don’t switch colors quickly, I have a sense of safety. Recently over the past couple of months I’ve started to feel more comfortable at the grocery store. I have full knowledge of the store and where everything is located, I know all exits and hiding places. I’ve been able to move from orange to yellow successfully.

When I get to go grocery shopping..it’s like a weight lifts off my shoulders. I end up enjoying it greatly. I get myself a latte, snack, grocery list and pen. I stroll through the aisles at a leisure pace and my grocery cart becomes my safe point.

I’ve learned when the safest time to go is, never on a holiday weekend, never on football Sunday or in the evening rush hour.

I pray over time I’ll be able to master more places I visit like I have the grocery store, and it may take me 30+ years to do it. I just can’t give up on my freedom. I have days sometimes where the mere thought of leaving the house causes anxiety and I listen to that anxiety, it’s safer for everyone. Those moments are becoming fewer and further apart. I’m good with this current status in my social life. My date may be hard and cold, veer off to the left, be riddled in germs and squeak…but it’s MY date and MY moment of stress free bliss.

I will not take a mind/mood altering medication to leave the home, because THAT’S like putting lipstick on a pig. I will wrestle this pig to the ground, hog-tie it and win…some day.

The Pig of Teen Sexual Assault

I recently watched a documentary about teen sexual assault in today’s world and the use of smart phones and social media.

The title is “Audrie and Daisy” and aired on FX and now available on Netflix. If you are or know a preteen or teenage girl or boy, you have to watch this.  As a parent or adult in a young adults life, this documentary will open your eyes to so much!

Rape culture isn’t new, but in the world of technology that’s clearly smart and new, we ALL have to take a stand against it. I can’t even comprehend what I would have done if my rape was taped and plastered all over the internet.  I do know that suicide would have been pondered and most likely accomplished.

The bravery and strength these young women have shown by speaking out is astronomical!  The parents that have spoken out are just as brave and strong. So many people choose to point fingers and judge; WHICH IS NOT HELPFUL IT’S DESTRUCTIVE!

Please watch this documentary. Please teach the young people in your life about rape, sexual assault, alcohol, narcotics, safe boundaries, bullying and how to stand up for what’s right.

You can obtain further information at http://www.audrieanddaisy.com as its time to cut this pigs throat.

My heart, love and prayers go out to all these beautiful young ladies.

Teen Rape in the 80’s

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***WARNING MAY TRIGGER RELAPSE***

In the middle of 8th grade I decided I could no longer live with my mom, I yearned for a home where I was included and loved…significant.  My dad moved to California with his new wife Velma.  I visited them over summer and spring breaks and it was always so wonderful.  Always had dinner at the table together, took day trips to tour Cali, cleaned house together, worked in the yard together…real family stuff.  I felt included.

 

I took the leap of faith and left all my friends to move from an area of mountainous beauty to the ocean.  Moving to a new area at 14 is scary and invigorating at the same time.  I didn’t know anyone, I stuck out like a sore thumb.  I came from a place where you wore Levi’s 501 button fly jeans to miniskirt central.  Yet I was a friendly survivor able to adapt to any situation at hand, a core trait I learned at such a young age of alcoholism and narcissism.

 

By freshman year, which was still considered Junior High School, I had friends from all circles and clicks.  The teachers loved me, I increased my GPA from 2.1 to 3.5, I was a teachers assistant, the administrative office hung my artwork in their offices, I played softball AND was 1 of 6 girls chosen to be a cheerleader.  Cheer leading in Cali is competitive, not about popularity, flat-out skill.  I felt like I was on top of the world.  Yet I couldn’t seem to get a boyfriend, I was a virgin and I didn’t dress provocatively.  Velma and dad made sure I always looked classy and fashionable.  Most of my friends weren’t virgins, spoke of sex a lot, dabbled in drugs, had parties, etc.

 

There was one boy I was interested in and I’m pretty sure I made myself look like an idiot each time he was around.  By January of that year I know he knew I liked him, then all of a sudden he took interest in me.  Talked to me, sat with me at lunch, flirted, kidded around and showed me interest.  It meant a lot to me.  I wasn’t the prettiest in school, extremely skinny and underdeveloped.  I considered myself pretty enough, many of the other boys flirted with me and were awkward around me; but this other boy….I was drawn to him.  On a Saturday night he invited me over to his house for a movie night with a group of friends.  WOW!  I was so excited an all giddy to go, dad was okay with it…so I went.

 

I dressed cute.  I wore a jean-skirt, kind of mini but not too short, tank top with a button-up sleeveless shirt over it.  When dad dropped me off, he was to come back and get me at 11:00pm, no problem.  I thought I was one of the first to arrive.  Because it was only Jake and this other boy Jon.  We all sat in the den, drinking sodas and talking.  An hour went by and no one else showed up, I asked Jake where everyone else was, he said they all must have changed their minds or their stupid parents wouldn’t let them come over.  In my mind, okay no big deal, lets watch a movie.

 

Then he offered to give me a tour of his house. In my mind his parents were there, most likely in their room allowing the teenagers to chill together.  He took me to his bedroom, it was covered in posters of Depeche Mode and The Cure. He closed the door and walked straight up to me and started kissing me. My heart was fluttering and beating so fast. He sat me on his bed, kept kissing me and leaned me backwards to lay down. I don’t remember how long we were kissing for, I just remember the force.

 

In a flash he was sitting on me over my waist, hands above my head and wrists in his grasp.  With his free hand he shoved a sock in my mouth and then shoved my skirt up and ripped my panties off.  I tried so hard to straighten and squeeze my legs together, wiggling around.  I was just to small and had no ability to fight.  He kept saying, “Relax. This is what you wanted.  Just let it happen.”  I couldn’t scream, couldn’t say no and had to stop fighting it. It seemed like forever, but it was only like 10 minutes at most. I just don’t remember.

 

Then he got up and was buttoning his shorts. Told me to clean myself up and come out to the den when done.  My panties were ripped so I shoved them in my skirt pocket. I was shaking. Frantic and just wanted to go home.  This was all my fault, I should have never flirted with him, I should have not let him kiss me or sit me on the bed.  I put myself into that position.  It was like 10pm and if I had called my dad to come get me he would have asked me why along with 10 other questions. I went and sat down on the couch back in the den and watched the clock as if it were in slow motion get to 11pm.  Jake and Jon were sitting there talking like nothing had happened. Did Jon know what Jake did?

 

I was embarrassed and humiliated. I took complete ownership for what happened.  I lost my innocence and identity in one night.  Dad honked the horn and I’m pretty sure I ran out of that house.  Got home, took a bath and cried into the hand towel.  I told no one.

 

On Monday at school I created a facade of happiness and fun, had to pretend to be me.  I never spoke to Jake again. This is when I started to change for the worse and started to create an alternative identity.  No longer innocent.  Clearly not wanted by boys unless I’d have sex with them.  Insignificant AGAIN!

White Knuckling the Suck

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Have you ever had to drive in a storm or situation that scared you so much, you grasped the steering wheel so tight your knuckles turned white?
After driving through a gnarly blizzard up the mountain to a church event, I realized how white my knuckles were. Which seriously surprised me, as I have been driving for a few decades in this type of weather. In fact, I am an excellent driver in snow and have a four-wheel drive. But this current situation caught me off guard and made me question…why?
To be honest with you, I’m afraid to die, it’s that simple. Not because I think I’m going to hell or hades, I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I’ll be with Him. I just can’t bear the thought of leaving my toddler, my 21-year-old nor my husband. I know in heaven I will be forever happy spending eternity with my one true Father. My fear-is how will my family survive without me? Not because I’m a perfect being and the be all end all, but it’s how I’d feel losing any of them.
My little guy, Calvin, would be lost without me. I am his everything. I can’t pee alone EVER, because he fears losing me. If I am out and about for more than five hours, he’ll be glued to me for 2 days straight.
I also have agoraphobia, I fear going places. I fear running into the stalker, the DV nightmare or being at the right place at the wrong time; like the Aurora Theatre massacre.
“What if” scenarios can play out in my head ALL day. I have no control over them at times. I simply panic and that panic takes over me and paralyzes me.
I’ve recently been white knuckling everything in front of me. Such as the drive up the mountain, leaving my little guy for a couple of nights for the first time, going to an event with well over 500 people and stepping up and “going first”. Paralyzing fear which results in and pounding heart, increased heart rate, sweating, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, abdominal pain, tears, confusion and thirst.
This white knuckling is not to be confused with nor compared to “white knuckling addiction”. THAT is a whole other topic of blogging I will get to. That type of white knuckling will get you into trouble one way or another.
White knuckling the suck is courageous, heroic, adventuresome and horrifying. It’s taking on your fear, giving fear the middle finger and turning your back on it. However, know that after being so extremely brave, you might transgress a bit. The shock of your courage might keep you hulled up for a bit afterwards, DO NOT LET THAT UPSET YOU!
My psychologist gave me a tip recently on when my panic or anxiety steps up to the plate to jack with me. I have a 5×5 box with a lid, little note pad and pen; whenever I have to or want to go somewhere, yet fear is trying to stop me I write my fear down. Then I put it in the box put the lid on it and say to it “I’ll deal with you later”. Simple. It’s not the perfect antidote and doesn’t always work, but it’s helped me through small steps.
Each small step I take is celebrated. I shake in my shoes afterwards, trembling a bit. Yet I bring myself back and this huge accomplishment, even if it was to simply walk down the front walk to the mailbox.
This “suck” is growth, don’t minimize you’re accomplishment. Be proud of yourself, stop shaming or doubting yourself. Sometimes just getting out of my bed is a huge accomplishment.

 

We CPTSD-ers are a continuous work in progress, we are forever unique; even if we feel like lipstick on a pig.