Bad Dreams

Last night I had a nightmare about the ex who used to stalk me.

After my marriage fell apart I dated this guy for a while. He was a really nice guy and he seemed to think the world of me. But then things started to get a little weird. I put up boundaries and he didn’t like that. Eventually I was forced to end things completely.

He didn’t handle the break up in a normal way. He left flowers on my car. He would show up at my place with ice cream. He would order pizza and have it delivered to my apartment. He would buy me things and leave them on my doorstep. Romantic right? It was hard to explain why its scary when the things he was doing were straight out of a rom-com.

Because the thing was, it wasn’t romantic. I had told him I didn’t want to see him and he continued to force himself into my life. The seemingly innocent little things he was doing, they were not so innocent. They had a dark and threatening tone to them. And he Would Not Stop.

So I got a restraining order. Still he persisted. He would stand outside my apartment just staring. He climbed up on a neighbor’s balcony so he could stare into my bedroom window. He had my name tattooed on his arm. He moved into the same apartment complex as me so he was less than a block away (incidentally he was still more than 500 feet away so he was allowed to live there even after the restraining order was in place, and after he broke it). He keyed my car. He left threatening messages on my phone.

I called the cops and he was arrested. Then he got out and he did it again. I called the cops again and he was arrested again. That happened over and over, again and again, until he was facing felony stalking charges with the possibility of spending years in prison. That finally got through to him. I got one final text message saying the absolute worst things I have ever heard someone say to another person in real life. And that was the last time I heard from him.

He did get sentenced to time in jail, eventually. He was able to get into a work release program for eight months (which ended up being five months). He spent his nights in jail but was let out everyday to go to work. He has been free for over a year now.

And I am left feeling… grateful.

If he had been the type to beat me up, that restraining order I had didn’t mean a thing and I would have been beaten over and over and over, instead of just frightened. He was three times my size and so very strong. I doubt I would have survived to call the cops the second time, much less the fourth or fifth time when it became a felony and he finally quit.

And I am grateful he quit when he did. Because the fact he had work release was laughable. When he was actively stalking me the only time I could relax was when I knew he was in jail. So when he was serving his sentence and they let him out every single day… it made me nervous, but if he had still been trying to reach me I would have been petrified.

So yeah, I have a lot I am grateful for. And when I think of the whole thing, those are the points that come first to my mind. How grateful I am he never hit me. How grateful I am that he stopped.

But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t still scared. Every time I see a white truck I do a double take and my heart races. Every time I see a man with his same build or wearing a construction safety shirt (he worked in construction) I freeze up a little.

And then there are the dreams like the one I had last night. He was trying to see me and I was trying to stop him. I had friends around me, helping me, buffering me from him but he kept coming. He kept trying. And I kept explaining why he had to stop.

Which was most of our interactions during those last few months. He would show up, and I would tell him to go, and he would look so surprised and so confused. Even after going to jail. He would look dumbfounded. Like, how could I be doing this? He just wanted to show me he loved me. He just wanted us to be together. That was the look in his eyes. Shock, surprise, and hurt.

It took a lot for me to get the restraining order. And even then I didn’t call the cops the first few times he broke it. I didn’t want to send him to jail. But I did. Because ultimately he was hurting me, and despite the heartbroken look on his face, he knew he was hurting me and he did it anyway, over and over and over. So I am glad I finally got the courage to do it, to call the cops and fight for myself, for my own safety.

And if I have to go through that same fight again in my dreams, well I will do that too.

And I am still grateful.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence or abuse, please contact your local DV shelter or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at:

1-800-799-7233

Or visit thehotline.org for more information.

And please, stay safe.

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