Hanging up the Christmas Stalkers

The wrapping paper litters the floor, the candy has been attacked. Christmas morning has come to a quiet lull in between presents and food. I opened my email before the blazing fire. Ahhh. Here is a message from my dear college roommate. But it’s not a Christmas message – it’s a warning. Apparently her daughter has an internet stalker. The stalker infiltrated her facebook friend list and found my friend, her mother.

K*E*A is an accomplished poet. This stalker sent her a facebook friend request claiming to be a poet. He’s not. It was as if he read my friend’s facebook profile and carefully crafted his friend request to appeal. My friend is also a teacher, so the idea of someone not well known to her sending a friend request would not seem strange. She responded affirmatively.

After infiltrating the daughter’s friend base, he worked his way through K*’s Facebook friends thus finding me. I too, have a rather public job, teaching. People interested in yoga send me friend requests. He pretended to be a poet for K*; he pretended to be interested in yoga for me.

For those who would make light of it, stalking is a horrible invasive crime. Stalking is a term commonly used to refer to unwanted or obsessive attention. I remember when my son was about 5 I met a man who was calling me on the phone each night as I stepped into my apartment. I wondered how he knew what time I got off work.

First thing after I get in the door with a little kid is a terrible time for me to get into a real conversation. I need to unpack! I need to unwind. I want to get my kid settled and maybe brew some tea before I pick up the phone. So I didn’t. I let it go to answering machine. Then I realized: he didn’t know what time I got home. He was calling every fifteen minutes until I would pick up the phone!

There was no way to unwind under the circumstances. Telling him I would call him back later only elongated the problem. I started taking my kid to the park, or stopping at a friend’s house, doing my grocery shopping – anything to avoid going home. I only needed a week to start feeling extremely resentful and trapped. Because I didn’t answer the phone, this individual started dropping by, just to “check on me” because I didn’t answer the phone.

Still not understanding the dynamic, I told my would-be-stalker that I didn’t answer the phone because I didn’t want to talk. I was starting to feel harassed, intimidated and frankly a little imprisoned by his attention. I couldn’t put my finger on why. Some of my friends thought he must really “like” me. He certainly “showed” well. This guy looked like anyone, about my age, a reasonable height with regular features. He was employed and had an address. He was consistently warm and friendly, I just, I just, didn’t like it. I grew tired of trying to explain to him why.

It is a universal truth, rarely acknowledged that you do not owe other people an explanation for your discomfort. Your feelings just are. They don’t have to be rational, irrational, right or wrong. They live deep within your muscle tissue, float through your pranamayo kosha and sometimes even into the subtle body above that. Ignore your discomfort at your peril!

Sometimes it’s a physical problem, a nutritional deficiency, or a repetitive motion that needs to be corrected. Other times, like this one, it was my psyche. I did not like what was happening, and no level of discussion, no explanation from him, no number of votes from my friends who thought I ought to be seeing someone would dissuade me. I wanted out.

He begged me for one last interview. He wanted to meet me for pizza. The restaurant he suggested was located farther than walking distance from my house. I didn’t own a car at the time. I was aware that the bus schedule from that location was inconvenient in the evening. I complained to my friend that although the meeting place was very public, my fear was the guy would offer to drive me home. I didn’t want to be alone with him.

“Call him up and cancel,” suggested Harvey.

“I can’t do that! It would be rude, I’ve already accepted!”

“You’re telling me that you are concerned about being alone with him. You’ve already checked out the bus schedule and you’ve considered how public a place this is. You know, Kumari, You know this could get dangerous. Just stop. Call it off, it will be uncomfortable for five minutes and then it will be over.”

Yes it was, uncomfortable, actually for less than five minutes. It was very very uncomfortable, for about three and a half minutes, and then it was over.

Let’s be careful out there!

Peace through Strength