It has been… not exactly comforting, but maybe a little bit comforting, to be approaching the age my parents were when I was stalked. The question I have has the hardest time making peace with is “How could you let this happen?” and now I see how this is all the amount they knew about how the world worked. These are all the skills for coping they had.
I was thinking about coming into math class and the teacher telling me that my stalker had left his notebook. She said, “Your boyfriend left his notebook. Why don’t you go bring it to him?”
And I flipped out. I stood up and sent my desk skidding across the floor. “He’s not my boyfriend.”
I remember her looking at me in utter confusion and annoyance. “Well, he says he is.”
Like that settled the matter. The dog had peed on me. I was his tree.
I wonder if she has any regrets. I wonder if she ever realized something was wrong.
To me, even now, the most upsetting part of it was the utter loss of control over the narrative of your own life. The feeling of knowing you have one life–where you hang out with this group of people and you aren’t dating anyone, even though you’d like to–and a lot of people believing you have a different life–where this guy, who you’re terrified of, is your boyfriend–just because he says so.
I felt, often, like I was suffocating under the weight of his fantasy of me. Like the longer it went on, the harder it was for me to have my very basic understanding of myself respected by other people.
I guess that’s why the bystander stuff in the Vandy case bothers me so much. A lot of people saw what was happening to me and either didn’t recognize it for something they needed to worry about or actively sided with his version of events. As if it was just “he said/she said” and not “he’s doing things/she said.”