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.

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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.

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.

The Mask of the Wolf and the Sheep

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A wolf in sheep’s clothing has been a parable used for centuries.  Except the poor wolf has been labeled as an angry beast and only out for blood, meanwhile the sheep is innocent and prey to the wolf. Both used to describe humans as either predator or prey, the emotionally angry beast could cover up his gnashing teeth with a mask of emotionally lacking sweet innocence.  Is this where we humans learned to cover up our emotions with the proverbial mask?

Did you know that both of these creatures from God represent all of our emotions? Take a look at this wheel of emotions, the center emotions are our core base emotions. Moving outward are the next phase emotions generating from one of the core emotions.

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Wolves have our similar core emotions as humans, they don’t show all of it on their faces, but they do with body language and vocally without words.

Sheep also have our similar core emotions, again based on their physical and vocal actions.

So why does the wolf have to be the bad guy in this? He’s the predator plain and simple. Raw end of the stick I’d say!

The “bad guy” is the expectation that we must cover our true identity with a mask.

  • “Never let them see you cry”
  • “You have no right to be angry”
  • “What are you so scared of you pussy”
  • “You know you look stupid”
  • “What are you so happy about”
  • “Don’t just stand there”
  • “Look how you made me feel”
  • “I don’t understand you or where you’re coming from”
  • “Wipe that look off your face”
  • “Keep your chin up”
  • “You have to stay strong”
  • “You’re being dramatic”
  • “Your feelings aren’t fair to me”

Each of these common statements inflict shame, embarrassment, condemnation and conditional love. None of us want to feel this way, so we “put on a happy face” our mask, disconnect from our feelings and become someone we’re not.

Maybe this is why I loved Halloween for so many years, I could dress up and be and act the part of my costume. Freedom for one night of the year.

I took my mask off 16 years ago when the Matriarch of our family died. I was no longer ruled over by her, I didn’t have to please her any longer. I got to confront her destruction head on and find the lost little girl who was never good enough. I cried for the first time in front of my psychologist of 6 years!  I found my angry voice and let people have it who’ve hurt me. I was like a shaken can of soda opened for the first time, I exploded in emotions.

Ironically at this time a homeless wolf hybrid showed up at my house.  While most were afraid of her, I saw her pain in needing love. I took her in, I loved her, fed her, bathed her, took her to the veterinarian and gave her a home. She in turn protected me, saved me, comforted me and loved me unconditionally.  This emotionally connected creature was a gift to me from God.

The sheep in all of these parables, is the mask. The mask of being stifled. Such an interesting word to describe “the sacrificial sheep”.

stifle [ stahy-fuhl ]

Definition: prevent, restrain

Synonyms: asphyxiate, black out, bring to screeching halt, burke, check, choke, choke back, clam up, clamp down, constipate, cork, cover up, crack down, curb, dry up, extinguish, gag, hold it down, hush, hush up, kill, muffle, muzzle, put the lid on, repress, shut up, silence, sit on, smother, spike, squash, squelch, stagnate, stop, strangle, stultify, suffocate, suppress, torpedo, trammel.

 

I will no longer be insignificant in regards to my feelings.  This doesn’t mean some of my feelings don’t scare me. I do know for many getting into touch with real feelings is beyond painful and more than they can handle. Doesn’t make them weak.  I’ve always liked the song Bridge Over Troubled Waters, because the bridge is much like the mask, protecting you from unforeseen trouble.  That water represents so much in our lives. Crossing that water without the bridge is going to be very difficult, scary, unforgiving, you’ll get pulled under, swallow water, have stinging pain from the cold, you’ll trip, question yourself and your sanity. Yet after you get to the shore and crawl to higher safe ground, you’ll be physically and emotionally wiped out. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and relief you made it through all of it.  Then after you practice crossing the troubled waters more and more, you’ll learn how to survive the trek across again and again. Make sure though before you take this adventure with another person, you know this person is safe and won’t attempt to stifle you. I believe you know what I mean.

The stifling pig in my life has been sacrificed and my emotions and feelings are my own..my very own and no one can take them away from me 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.