1: All names have been changed.
2: Word salad ahead.
3: Prepare to frequently groan at how stupid I am in this situation.
tl;dr: Break up with girlfriend, she proceeds to stalk me for a year and a half.
I met Danielle a couple of years ago. She was, hands down, one of the most beautiful women I’d ever seen. A petite, sweet-faced woman in her mid-40s, she had that rare kind of beauty that isn’t touched by age or stress. Most importantly, within minutes of talking she established herself as sweet, adorably shy, and funny. We wound up getting coffee together within an hour of meeting, and spent several hours talking and getting to know one another.
Sadly, she was only town for work, and had to fly back to her hometown very shortly thereafter. But we traded contact information and promised to stay in touch. And so we did.
For reference, I’m a bisexual female in my early 30s who, at that time, was not relationship prone. Hadn’t been so for close to 10 years, didn’t see that changing any time soon (this actually did change very recently, much to my surprise and delight, and I’m currently blissfully happy with my boyfriend). I tended to be very upfront and honest about my inability to make a decent girlfriend, and this was no different: I could feel the chemistry between us, we’d spent hours flirting, and I went out of my way to make it clear within that first meeting that I was absolutely off the table as long-term partner.
So we stayed in contact, and it wasn’t long before lots of texting and random phone calls turned into my flying to her hometown to see her. I stayed for a week that first time around, and things escalated quickly. She made her feelings known very early on, and while it took me longer (I.e., it didn’t happen in that one week), I was starting to have feelings as well. That was pretty new to me.
I wanted to take it slow, and made it clear that a) I wasn’t saying I was ready for a relationship, b) I may never reach the point where I’m ready for a relationship, and c) I totally understand if she’s not able to accept that, and we need to keep our relationship platonic.
She said she was totally fine going at my pace so long as we got to be together, more or less. And things were good for the first couple of months. I’d fly out to see her, she’d fly out to see me, in-between lots of calls and Skype and text. I wasn’t in love with her, but I felt like maybe, if things kept going the way they were, I should consider relocating to her area to pursue things further.
Thankfully, that never happened.
Unfortunately, that never happened because shit got weird. And scary. Maybe even dangerous.
I come from a very chaotic background, pack a boatload of PTSD into a 5’9” body, and as such I don’t do conflict. I am very much the stay-calm-talk-it-out sort; the last “argument” I had was with a boyfriend in my early twenties. It’s just not something that comes naturally to me, and nothing I particularly want a large amount of in my life. And while I don’t run from conflict, if somebody proves themselves to be conflict-prone, constantly ready to fight, and/or eager to start drama and upset, I nope the fuck out of there as fast as I can. I don’t have the time or the interest.
So, when the problems started, I wasn’t really prepared for it. Things had been going great! I’d be happily texting her as I was out running errands, it was a lovely, happy conversation, and then suddenly she checks out. I can feel her shutting me down, getting clipped and cold, and when I ask what’s wrong, she says “I’m fine,” and doesn’t text me or call me for the rest of the day. This is … random. Less than an hour before, I’d spent 5 minutes in my car while parked writing her a poem off the top of my head purely because she’d asked. Happy to do it. And now this? Well, that’s odd, but maybe she’s just having a bad day. (I found out quite a bit later than when I needed to drive and texted her “Okay, babe, gotta hit the road, will text later!” she felt “shut down” and didn’t want to speak to me for the rest of the day.)
A week or so after this I woke up to missed calls and texts. Not one, not five, sixteen missed calls. I’m like, “Holy fuck, something must be terribly wrong,” and I call her back. She answers, upset, and asks me where I’ve been; it was six am by the time I woke up, and heretofore I’d been sleeping. Like most people. I tell her this, but kindly. She’s upset. She’d wanted to tell me about her day, thus she called me around midnight. But I didn’t answer her. I was ignoring her. So she called me sixteen times, determined to get me on the phone, until finally she just gave up, because “clearly you don’t love me enough.”
Persephonics is not pleased. Persephonics is starting to regret ever even considering the possibility of a relationship, but then I remember how rare it is for me to have feelings for someone beyond friendship, and as such I’m probably not the easiest person to couple with, so: I apologize. I promise to leave my ringer on when I’m sleeping in case she needs me. She feels better, things are fine again. Lovely.
Things go to shit a couple of weeks later, and they stay shit. She’s picking apart everything I say, the most benign comment subject to dissection followed by a never-ending string of questions that leave me bewildered and exhausted. Whenever I tell her I need space, that I need a little bit to clear my head so I can think and come back to this more even, more able to work through it, she hits me with 20 questions (often literally): why am I so cold? Why am I being so mean to her? Don’t I love her? Don’t I want her to be happy? Clearly I was lying about ever having feelings for her. Etc, etc, etc.
I put up with this longer than I should (don’t be like my, kids). If I say “yes, I’d like dessert” in the wrong tone of voice: problem. I don’t want to read 50 fucking Shades of Grey: problem. I don’t answer one of her many deep, probing questions in as thorough a manner as possible: problem.
Eventually, I crack. The most conflict-avoidant, laid back human you could imagine, I finally get angry. So angry my hands are shaking, so angry that I finally dive into this argument she’s been dying to have and say mean things, shitty things, angry things. I hate it. I hate that I’ve hurt her with my anger, and I hate that someone’s broken through my uber-chill manner to a side of me I didn’t think existed. This is toxic, and I know it. Can’t stand it. I want it to end; nothing is worth this.
So, I end it. Or I try to. The second I do, she melts down. I’m … surprised. I expected a bit of hurt or sadness, but mostly just anger. This is something else. She sobs, calls, begs. She sends flowers and gifts. She says she knows she’d been difficult but I can be so cold, can’t I see that? She’ll make it up to me. Give her another chance. It’ll be different. She promises.
Needless to say, the circus-like shitshow that was now our “relationship” did not improve. I ended it again, quickly. She was upset. I held out this time.
When the emails started, I wasn’t too worried. I mean, yeah, sure, sending twenty-two of them within the space of 3 hours was maybe a little much, but this was a fresh breakup, right? That’s, like, normal, right? Just let it go. Oh, and the texts too. And the phone calls. Yeah, even the ones at 3 am. Just turn your phone off. Don’t answer. She’ll stop when she’s less upset. Right? …Right?
Flowers show up. Gifts. The emails don’t stop. The texts don’t stop. The calls don’t stop. She leaves so many voicemails over a 48 hours period that my mailbox is full and I have to batch delete them just to make sure my Mom can call and leave me a message if she needs to. It’s starting to get out of hand. It needs to stop.
My brilliant idea: “I know! I’ll calmly email her and explain that I’m sorry she’s hurt, and I wish I could’ve been better for her, but that our friendship/relationship is over and it’s not healthy for either of us if she continues trying to contact me like this.”
World: You’re … you’re really, really fucking bad at reading these situations, huh?
This does not go as planned. This just reinforces her idea that she can overwhelm me into getting back together. It backfires. After getting over 100 texts in a row (not an exaggeration) that range from “I love you” to “why do you enjoy hurting me” to “I fucking hate you, you ruined my life you ugly whore,” I block her number. She realizes this eventually, I believe, because them she starts spamming me with rapid-fire emails. I block her email the next day.
Texts and phone calls start coming from numbers I don’t recognize. Email addresses I never heard of. Every time I block one, there’s a new one. She’s got so many goddamn phone numbers at her disposal she may as well be T-Mobile in the flesh. It’s getting increasingly overwhelming. I send one final “DO NOT CONTACT ME AGAIN” text, and then I change my phone number. And my email.
She messages me on Twitter. Instagram. Other social media accounts I haven’t used in ages, things she has no reason to even know about. And when I say she messages/texts/calls me, we’re not talking once or twice or three times. It’s endless. 20, 30, 40, in the hundreds on occasion. So, I shut down all my accounts. Fuck it. I’ll make a new Twitter and IG.
When digital / phone contact is cut off, more flowers arrive. Then gifts. Then letters that range from loving to angry to hurt to threatening.
Somewhere along the line she finds my new email address and phone number. I don’t know how. When she begins spamming me with attempts to initiate contact, I’m angry and bewildered but not threatened. I come up with A Super Great Idea.
Super Great Idea: “It’s been almost six months and she’s STILL this upset. Man, I really hurt her. I should try to make amends. I’ll just have to explain that, even though I want the best for her, our connection is not good for either of us. So much time has passed, she’ll have to understand.”
World: I … I just … I don’t know … HELP ME HELP YOU, PERSEPHONICS.
Me: Nah, don’t worry, world, I got this.
Also me, about 2 hours later: I DON’T GOT THIS.
Do I even need to say it didn’t go well? It didn’t go well. After a couple of weeks, I have to change my phone number and email again. Lesson learned.
Six months later (mid-2017), my building manager calls me. I live in a security building, and all deliveries/guests have to check in through the manager. There’s a flower delivery for me, but the person delivering wants me to come down to the lobby. That’s … odd? Usually they just come up to the door once they’ve checked in. Anyway, I wasn’t home, so I told them to leave the flowers in the office and I’d get them tomorrow. When I get home that night, there are no flowers in the office for me. Huh. Maybe they’re going to deliver again tomorrow?
My apartment buzzer starts going at 3 am. Once, twice, three times. Four. Five. It’s the box guests use then they want you to buzz them in. But it’s 3 fucking am, I’m not expecting anyone, and I’m tired. Buzz. Buzzbuzz. Buzzbuzzbuzzbuzzbuzzbuzzbuzz. This fucker is not letting up on the button. I’m too tired for this, I decide; I mute the alert, roll over, go back to sleep.
Next morning, a note on my door: “Why didn’t you let me in?” That’s it. No name, no idea how they got in. That’s weird, but I figure maybe somebody’s got the wrong apartment. This is an 8 story building, and sometimes people unfamiliar with the layout get lost and think their friend’s apartment is on a different floor than it actually is. Whatever.
Two weeks later my building manager calls me, concerned.
“Do you know a Carla?”
“Somebody named Carla called and said they were your best friend, and they wanted to know if I could give them access to your apartment while you were out so they could plan a surprise for you.”
“I do not know a Carla, and no one but my parents are allowed access to my apartment when I’m not here.”
(Note: building manager is awesome, knows my parents on site, and always goes out of his way to make my Mom, who has MS, comfortable and feeling safe in the building.)
A week passes. Manager calls.
“Do you know a Megan?”
“Well, Megan called, said she was a friend of yours, and asked if I could share your father’s contact information. She wants his help planning a surprise birthday party for you.”
“It’s not my birthday. I don’t know a Megan. And no. Not ever.”
Another week passes. This time, a friend who somewhat knows Danielle calls.
“Did you know Dani’s in [hometown]?”
“Have you seen her facebook and Instagram posts lately?”
“I avoid her social media.”
So, like a sane person who’s been told not to look behind them, I totally look behind me. I check her social media. Her instagram is full of those ~inspirational graphics~ that say shit like “If you love them, never let them go,” and “You’re beautiful because you fight for what you love and cross boundaries and make people mad but do it with an open heart.”
There are photos of my building. There are photos of the inside of my building. There is a photo of my front door.
That night: Buzz. Buzz buzz. Buzzbuzzbuzzbuzzbuzzbuzzbuzzbuzzbuzzbuzzbuzzbuzzzzzz.
In all this time, I’ve never felt scared. I start to realize that’s my own stupid bias: she’s an extremely petite woman in her mid-40s with a couple of kids, I’m a fairly physically strong 5’9” woman with a concealed carry license and a solid familiarity with self-defense. It’s not like she’s dangerous. It’s not like she could hurt me. Right?
She finds my new number and email address. Again. She finds social media accounts I went out of my way to disconnect from my name. Gifts keep coming. Letters. Threats. Flowers. Calls from so many different numbers I can’t figure out how she’s pulling it off. A string of uninterrupted texts that go into the hundreds.
I’d never felt scared, but I was starting to. I think, deep down, it was the day my manager called and said somebody wanted access to my apartment. That threw me. I had to know it was her. But I didn’t want to deal with what that could’ve meant.
I’d been refusing the advice of loved ones to get a restraining order. She has two kids! She’s a single mom. She’s not dangerous, she’s just annoying and needy as fuck.
But it’s gone too far. Finally, in December of 2017, I sat down and, upon the urging of my new (and wonderful!) boyfriend, faced reality: I was being stalked, this woman was escalating dramatically, we didn’t know her true motive, and I was putting myself and my loved ones at risk by desperately wanting to be “nice.”
A lawyer was contacted. Police were contacted. A file was made, with evidence, but I did not file a restraining order; it was decided, per my wishes, that I would give her one last chance to go away before filing. Because, despite everything, I didn’t want to hurt her, or fuck with her kids (who, despite her insane behavior with me, she was a wonderful, gentle, and loving mother to).
I texted her once last time: “If you do not stop contacting me, I will file a restraining order. The paperwork is ready to go. Do not contact me. Do not contact my family. Do not come to my building. Do not message me online. Goodbye.”
That night, she spammed me one last night: https://i.imgur.com/1g1Z4jG.jpg — All texts, emails, and voice messages at from her, left within the space of about 50 minutes.
Thankfully, after that last barrage, I haven’t heard or seen a peep from her since. The photos of my building have disappeared from her social media. No gifts, flowers, or letters have arrived. No calls from the building manager, no buzzing at my call box, nada.
I hope it stays that way. There are still moments when, trying to sleep, thinking over the past year in a half and my own seeming inability to accurate detect danger, I wonder what would’ve happened if she’d gotten into my apartment. If she’d been here, waiting for me. If all those threats, the letters I thought were just angry venting, were actual plans.
Danielle, let’s not meet again.