Somebody that I used to know

by Kate

I know what it feels like to be stalked and harassed. I have an ex-boyfriend who continues to try to get in touch with me even after I told him I never, ever, ever want to speak to him again. He’s slowed down quite a bit, but a month or two ago he tried to contact me through my mother, asking her to send along an email that said how he was and expressed hope that I was well. This would have been a fine olive branch were it not for the fact that he emotionally abused me for four years while we were together, stalked me after we broke up, and has sent similar “friendly” emails in the past as a way to get the door open so he could insult and degrade me more. Of course I didn’t write back this time, and I told my mother not to forward anything else along.

So I know what it feels like to have someone from your past who just won’t go away. And I’ll admit that I’ve been a little, shall we say, obtuse in the past when it comes to other people’s lack of desire for further contact with me. But I’ve learned and I’m trying to do better. I don’t want to be the creepy stalker ex any more than I want to have a creepy stalker ex.

Since moving back to Portland last year, I’ve been very aware of the proximity of both my abuser/stalker and a certain someone whose boundaries I’ve stomped on/over in the past. I can make excuses and try to mitigate it, but the truth is that I was abnormally fixated on this person for years after we broke up. I should have known better, I should have behaved better, but I was insensitive and kind of an idiot when it came to other people. I’m still learning, I guess.

I’ve written a lot on my blog about my feelings about this person. I think it would be dishonest to go back and change or delete what I said, since some people liked those entries, and they are the truth about where I was at the time. But I never intended to bother this person with my writing, I always assumed he didn’t read any of it, and other than his relatively common first name, I didn’t share a lot of identifying details. It was my way of dealing with my own stupid feelings, and I didn’t think it was hurting anyone. But it turns out that some friends of his read this blog from time-to-time, and it seems that some of what I’ve said here was getting back to him. I got a very curt email last year asking me not to contact him again, and other than a momentary lapse earlier this year (which I immediately felt like an idiot about) I’ve done as he asked.

But now we’re both members of a Facebook group that meets once a month. I noticed that he and his wife only went the last meetup I went to after I’d left, which made me think (perhaps wrongly/self-centeredly) that they waited for the all-clear before they showed up.

So I decided to email the wife, in advance of the coming meetup, to let her know I mean no harm:

I wanted you and [redacted] to know that you don’t have to worry about running into me at events. I have no interest in causing awkwardness or confrontation. Y’all don’t need to avoid me, I’m happy to pretend [redacted] and I are strangers. I think we can coexist in this group and let the past be the past.

Perhaps I was an idiot for thinking that a gesture of peace would be welcome. It turns out that it wasn’t welcome at all, and I woke up today to a very angry email from wifey about how little they appreciated my sentiment. Apparently treating me like a stranger won’t cut it because “I’d be glad to meet a ‘stranger’, but we won’t be interacting with you in the least.”

Well. That’s fine.

When I think back to my behavior over the last four-and-a-half years, there are a lot of things I’m not proud of. Several of those things involve good ol’ Redacted. But I have never said or done anything threatening to him or his wife. I don’t follow them, I don’t come anywhere near them at all. I’ve emailed him maybe four times in the last three years, and while I’ve made an ass of myself many times over, I stopped trying to make him care a long time ago. I was a headcase when Redacted and I dated, but I was a headcase that he willingly and eagerly dated for a yearWe were still on pretty good terms for about six months after things ended, we even hung out a few times before things got serious with wifey. He emailed me on my birthday in 2010, but I responded badly (I was going through some shit) and that’s when the pleasantries stopped.

I never hacked into his email, read his text messages, or showed up announced when were together or after we broke up. I know how it feels to have someone do these things to you, and I’d never want to make anyone feel that way.

But it seems I did in fact make Redacted and his wife feel harassed. And for that, I’m sorry. But I’m not some psycho who’s trying to fuck up anyone’s life. I hate there’s nothing I can do to smooth this over or make it right, but it seems that there isn’t.

And that is something I’m just going to have to live with.

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