When My Stalker Had a Coffee with My Mum
You are not guilty (or the cause) for that rotten feeling in your gut
When I was fifteen, there were no social media or American Tv series on murderers or criminals; the internet had barely touched our lives and I lived in a countryside village where thieves and robberies happened once a year when the circus arrived for the summer’s festival. Of course bad things happened, but it was a time in my life where I would go to sleep with windows open, lulled by the sounds of crickets on hot nights. It is quite shocking to see how the reality has changed in as (relatively) little as 20 years, but it suffices to say that every house has now its alarm system, and kids don’t run home from school by themselves any longer.
Back then, I was popular and studious enough to get by with almost anything in school, and life; I had plenty of friends, my parents trusted me, and I would spend all my afternoons eating and laughing at my best friend’s house. Usual and innocent teenage stuff.
One afternoon I went with my school mates to the city to have a break in our routine, and we ended up staying too late; I knew that if I caught the bus I would have arrived home way too late (remember, no mobile phones for kids back then), and I ended up accepting a lift by one of my friend’s friend. I didn’t know him, and I never saw him before, but he was friendly and familiar with all the people I was spending my time with, which was reassuring enough for my little fifteen-year-old brain. He drove a big, noisy car, he didn’t go to school as I had never seen him before, and he looked older, although I didn’t know about how much…maybe 6–7 years older than I was, I had no idea.
He drove me home first, he was very chivalrous and opened the door of the car when I stepped out, he asked if we could keep in touch and I swiftly said “Of course”, while my biggest concern was being on time for family dinner, and certainly not chit-chatting with an almost stranger.
That was the moment when I met my stalker; I will never know if he had already followed me beforehand or if that was our first unfortunate encounter, but he had landed in my life.
The next day he was waiting out of my high school’s gates, because he had someone else to pick up; I was raised polite enough to always act as If interested towards what other people have to say, and that behavior didn’t serve me much in that particular occasion. After the first day, he started coming to school every day, and once he told me “I take you home” Bless my silly brain and my incapacity to let people down; I still feel it in my gut that jumping on his car wasn’t the right thing to do, but I didn’t want to make a big scene and disappoint anyone, plus he was really insistent, and I followed him.
Instead of driving me home he drove me to his place (with the excuse of having to pick up something on the way). One hour later I was sitting in his basement watching TV, looking for an excuse to get on the phone and call my mum to pick me up as soon as possible; I was uncomfortable, but not scared, as he was nice and gentle. Two hours later, I was having lunch with his smiley parents which had heard so much about me and seemed to be relieved to know that I existed. He dropped me back home at 4, and I run to my house (literally ran) while he was yelling something such as “I’ll see you tomorrow beautiful”.
After that day followed many unanswered phone calls in the middle of the night, and I found myself hiding behind the brick walls of my school until my mum’s car was safely parked outside. I then started bumping into him in cafés, shops, and parks; he seemed to be everywhere I was, although he had no business being there.
As I said in the beginning, I didn’t spend my nights watching American movies, and I had no idea of what a stalker was, I only had this nauseous feeling of lack of freedom, and I knew that something wasn’t right.
I kept thinking back to the day in the basement, and I grew more and more terrified. But I didn’t speak out. What was I going to say? I didn’t want people to judge me, think that I was the one that decided to jump in his car in the first place…what were they going to say? So I shut up.
Until one day, the dean of the school brought me a letter, in the middle of the Latin’s class. It was a heavy letter, filled with 12 pages of handwritten sexual daydreams; I stopped reading after the first few sentences, and I let my guy best friends finish it for me. He went from covering his mouth to stop his laughter to looking disgusted, as if he was about to gag “What’s written” I asked with butterflies in my stomach (they were moths more than butterflies) “Nothing” he replied quickly without looking at me “I walk you home today”, and he did.
That day I felt as if a massive load was taken off my shoulders, as I could finally share my nightmare with someone; we had a good chat and he convinced me to talk to my parents. After months of having a debilitating rotten feeling of guilt and uncertainty, I had hopes again.
I walked inside my house and my mum was sitting with my sister and a stranger, laughing and sipping tea. The stranger turned around, and it was him. He was having a drink with my family, in the living room where I spent all my free time watching TV and cuddling my cat.
My mouth went dry and my head started spinning; I sat down with them and I applied my usual nice behavior, as my brain wasn’t functioning any longer.
“I think you should stay for dinner,” my mum said. I looked at her in disbelief; she didn’t know, and she thought he was a special friend and wanted to make me happy. “No” I yelled.
Everyone looked at me strangely “I’m sick, I need to lay down”, and while I was leaving the room in utter panic, my mum said “Hey honey, your friend told me that there are sick letters going around, sent by a crazy person; be careful, and if you receive one of them let me know”.
Which kind of sick joke was he playing at?
I looked at him, and he smiled back. “You need to leave”, I said “Now”.
The rest of the story lasted for many more years; I blamed myself a lot, no one talked about a restraining order, as we didn’t even know it was an option. I kept seeing him on and off until I moved far away from home (and he was somewhere every time I came back); I spoke to my family and friends; I put my feet down and I became mean towards him every time we met “by chance”. I kept living my life because I was the lucky one that came across a “mildly” crazy stalker.
In hindsight, when I think about myself in that basement, I’m grateful I came out from it without emotional or physical scars. Stalking is real, nasty and it ruins people’s life.
If you are experiencing it, or if you think that something is off, speak out.
Unfortunately, you are not alone.