I apologize in advance if this post is slightly disjointed, but some of these feelings are tiny butterflies that I’m trying to catch in a net in order to classify them properly.
I think most of you remember a post that I wrote last year about my experiences with being stalked in and out of World of Warcraft. It was easily one of my most popular posts, largely due to the fact that it was a story that pretty much resonated with a great deal of my audience. I think a lot of people have felt at least a brush of that kind of problem, as scary and alienating as it is. Seeing someone talk about it brings us all together because we suddenly don’t feel alone.
May 26th (as far as I can reckon via my Twitter history) is when I had to call the cops the last time. I was so tired and anxious of this process of dealing with the endless harassment and had a panic attack and called the cops. What good I thought it would do me, I didn’t know. I just wanted to feel in control again. I went through the same dance – telling the cop my story, having him not really grasp Internet harassment. But he gave me hope when he said he could get me in touch with a department that dealt with cybercrime in my city. And that’s what I needed to hear (I ended up never getting ahold of them, mysteriously.) What I wanted was just a shot at potentially fixing this situation.
Then something strange happened.
Maybe it was me actually following through on a threat publicly of calling the cops (to the point where I had adrenaline fatigue later), but the harassment stopped. Flat out stopped; not a trickle and then tailing off, but like nothing at all. It’s like he never existed after that. Of course, he’d taken breaks before so the first week I was relieved for the “break” but was waiting for the shoe to drop again. Then another week. And another. Several more. Suddenly it had been a month and nothing. “Maybe he died.” I thought to myself. Maybe he did. I still don’t know. Maybe he got helped or was finally jailed or who knows.
After 3 or so months went by, I started to feel like I could let out the breath I had been hanging onto since four years prior. It felt like sunlight was suddenly creeping into the dark corners of my life. The looming shadow that had always been lurking in the back of my mind was dissipating. I almost didn’t know what to do with myself. I had spent so many years at this point backed into a tiny ball of hiding my feelings and feeling scared from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed that I almost had no idea how to function as a human being. It felt like I was a rusty robot that had subsisted on anger and terror.
The problem on top of all this was that being stalked was that it had just already compounded a life spent being dominated by anxiety. Working through this, finally getting to the end of it meant that I had to dig a lot deeper under the daily survival mechanism and open up the Pandora’s Box that was the rest of my life. I had spent so long bailing out my little boat of all the water rushing in, that now I had to learn how to steer it. I will say the last year or so of therapy has been some of the weirdest, hardest work I’ve done. I had to unravel a lot of truths about myself in relationship to my anxiety, my sexual assault as a teen, as well as my complicated relationship with my family. The upside of this was that I felt like I was starting to build something on top of a foundation, rather than repairing everything continually being torn down.
One day I woke up and realized I wasn’t scared anymore. Well, sure, I still had to deal with anxiety, but the war was over. I could go home.
Today I woke up and felt awesome. But I have been feeling like that for a while. Even the days I don’t feel so great (and there are a lot of those), I still feel ten times better than I did then. My bad days now are better than of my best days back then. While I’ve been sluggish on writing a lot, the fact that I’m doing art, keeping my house clean and taking care of my new pet cat means that I’m less of a robot these days and more of a typical human being. I don’t get panic attacks when my Twitter mentions columns fills up with replies. I don’t feel scared about talking about where I live or what I like to do with new people. I cleared out most of my blog’s banlist and blocked terms. I only have a fleeting twinge of weirdness when I see certain words or think about certain things. It feels like the high tide of my own enjoyment is at acceptable levels for me to go out sailing again.
I think today is a good day to toggle “victim” over to “survivor” because I beat this, I survived this. Not just being stalked, but the second darkest period of my life, all things considered. I was in a bad place a couple of years ago and it only now it feels like I can go forward.
Thank you all for reading, and enjoy the rest of your day.
aka Apple Cider Mage