Stalker Story Temporarily Discontinued

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I thought I was ready to dive into this, I thought after 17 years and years of therapy I could tell this story. It has unexpectedly opened a door that is causing severe hypervigilance, nightmares, triggers and causing a CPTSD response I wasn’t anticipating.

I’m suspending my story until I can safely tell this story without mental and physical repercussions. I feel unsafe and wish someone would just hold me close and give me a safe feeling of security. My dog was that safe point for me, but since his death 2 weeks ago I’m a hot fucking mess.

I walk the house all night, eat through the night, have nightmares, flashing images of his face and events, migraines and feel tortured. I feel broken and unfixable.

I’ve tried refocusing, staying busy, medications, meditation, safe place comfort measures and it’s just lingering. So this story is on hold until I can safely reopen this can of smelly shit.

Will I ever be free of you John? You piece of dog shit! My soul belongs to God, not you. Feeling defeated.

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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

 

 

The Stalker

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Seventeen years ago I worked in the administrative offices of a hospital managing all of their satellite medical offices. My office was on the main floor across from the sandwich deli, so I had a lot of people traffic that would walk by and see me at my desk. I could see the deli counter through their window when at my desk. I didn’t utilize the deli often, as a single mom I couldn’t afford to eat out ever. I was well-known by all of the hospital staff since my work was directly with many of the physicians and their support staff, and I’m a friendly person that used to be very talkative to anyone and everyone.

The main cafeteria was in the basement and it staffed the deli upstairs. Our cafeteria had moderately good food and they were promoting a new chef, often we would get lunch vouchers to try out the food and then were encouraged to recommend it to patients families or visitors.

The new chef started spending a lot of time in the deli, I only noticed because he’d always have a white chef coat and hat on, which was different from the other employees.  I have named him John for this blog, because of the notorious Jodie Foster stalker John Hinkley Jr. back in the 80’s.

John started making me food and bringing it over “to try it out and let me know what you think” line. No red flag, just thought it was a normal behavior.  Then John would come over and visit, asking questions to “get to know me”. No red flag, had a wedding ring on and seemed nice. One question was asking me my favorite dessert, which is Cremé Brule.  He showed up the following week serving me this dessert on a full silver platter, china and a rose. Hmmmm…red flag. I knew something was up, but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, so I accepted this gift and ate it and of course had to call him to come back and get the dishes. That’s when he asked if he could take me to dinner

The answer was “No, your married and I don’t date people I work with.” I got the most dejected look and uncomfortable vibe from him that red flags popped up left and right. I always kept my office door open, as it helped with fresh air, allowed visitors to feel comfortable asking for directions and physicians liked the opened feeling of coming and going. That day I closed my door, bought a fan and kept it closed. This stopped the direct line of sight to me from the deli and became my barrier. The visits from John stopped and I avoided the cafeteria like the plague. Then I ended up hearing through the office grape-vine that John no longer worked at the hospital.  Thank God! I was free to open my door and not feel confined nor watched. It was truly a freeing moment and I couldn’t have been more relieved.

Two weeks later I left my office and headed for the parking garage to go home, it’s dark out and in the garage, get in my car and there’s a rose on my windshield with a note. “Just wanted to say hello and I miss you. ♥ J” Red flags popping up in my head:

  1. Why is he leaving me a note?
  2. How in the hell does he know what I drive?
  3. Did he walk the WHOLE garage looking for my car?

I was freaked out! If I was 16 I wouldn’t have been upset, I would have been flattered. As a grown woman and single mom…freaked out!  The next morning I went to our security office and filed a complaint and let them know what happened and prior to. They immediately got special permission to let me park in the physicians lot that no one could get into. Gave all of the other security personnel his picture and name and to have him removed from the premises.  Now I feel better and safer at work, and let it leave my mind. Deep breath and relief.

Month later I get home from work to find a bag on my doorstep. Sis lived across the street, so I figured it was from her. My son was 5 and he and I opened it and it was a large remote control race car. With a note “I’m sorry I upset you, please forgive me. ♥ J”.  Red flags:

  1. How in the fuck does he know where I live?
  2. How does he know I have a son?
  3. This is bazaar abnormal behavior and I need help.

Called a friend who is a Private Investigator for help. He did a full back ground check on this guy and then helped me find ways to prove it’s him coming to my house, started driving different routes to and from work every day, became extremely vigilant of my surroundings and if someone was following me.

This was just the beginning stages of his stalking. What’s to come became an extremely intense nightmare that has altered my life in the most negative way. I can only write this story in small amounts because HE is why I live in constant fear and anxiety and telling the story scares the shit out of me and what it’s going to bring up in my mind.

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.

Safe Places

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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.