OK, wait. I exaggerated that sentence. Twice.
First. Pat—my incredibly supportive, awesome-beyond-belief-friend—technically doesn’t exist. The literary term for what Pat really is, is a “composite character.” What’s that? OK. For example. In Little House on the Prairie, Nellie Oleson is a composite character. Three women making Laura Ingall’s life hell during the pioneer years. Condensed into one easily recognized villain.
That’s what Pat is. Minus the Machiavellian tendencies. When I write her, I don’t pretend she’s real. Instead, I see her as a loosely stitched together mismatch of body parts from five (or so) women. Crudely stitched together into a Frankenstein’s monster.
Now that I’ve come clean about Pat, its time to correct the second smokescreen. Pat Monster didn’t exactly ban me from the Internet. Just sounded like a great way to hook you into this post. (I’m such a cheap writing hack.) What really happened was a collective agreement from the women within Pat Monster that I needed to stop running Google searches on my stalker, The Neighbor. Trying to figure out her present whereabouts. Ensuring our paths never cross again.
Searches I no longer need to conduct.
During the Dark Years, the intrawebs provided tons of solid hits for The Neighbor’s stalking past. Evidence I desperately needed to build a case against her. Evidence I also believed would provide peace and answers. Instead, it only opened more questions. Questions that would make this post go completely off-topic if discussed right here, right now.
Anyway … after a point, that Internet source dried up. It now withholds any substantial information about The Neighbor. Including her current whereabouts ... after her eviction from her side of the duplex ... after her release from jail. Like she just vanished. Can a human truly vanish? Did that make her a demon of sorts? And if she was a demon, then …
That's when I need to stop the thought train. Remind myself that despite choosing to openly talk about being stalked, I'm not entirely logical when it comes to my stalker. In fact, if I let it, it doesn’t take much to unravel myself, in regards to her. Trying to find present-day answers only succeeds with making me upset. I know better than to let myself travel these roads. Most days, I do well with self-regulation. Flick my wrists when the "come on, just one quick search" thought enters my head. Tell myself "a quick Google search is never quick. Go rock climbing instead." Which usually works.
Except that last week I lured myself back into the myth of a quick Google search. Convinced myself that this time I could be balanced. In fact, I’d completely moved on from whatever fears haunted me. Internal logic took over. I needed, no, demanded answers. I could stare down whatever barefaced facts existed about my stalker. No big deal. Besides, I deserved to at least know what section of my city to avoid. If she was still in my city. What if she no longer lived here? That would be such a weight removed. Yeah. I deserved to know. Absolutely deserved to know.
So. I promptly lost distance and perspective. Got caught up the moment. Ran the quick Google search. And then DESCENDED INTO HELL! As expected, the Internet presented a hairball of facts. Finding names that almost matched The Neighbor’s, which I tried streamlining into a cohesive, flawless story. Resulting with creating a new Frankenstein monster, based on the mismatched mess.
One tid-bit said The Neighbor lived close. No! Another said she was far! No! She had a Facebook check-in at a nearby pub! No! She’s a preschool teacher! What if she ate the children? No! The Neighbor’s now works for a surveillance agency! HOW THE HELL DID SHE PASS THE BACKGROUND CHECK? WHAT WOULD SHE USE AGAINST ME?
As these things go, I never truly realize just how irrational I’m being until after I click Send. Then quickly realized ... again ... I should have thought everything through. Not only the quick Google search, but also the panicky email.
Thankfully, Pat Monster quickly brings me back down to Earth. So, now I’m breaking form. Letting Pat Monster unstitch herself. Because sometimes, I need to hear the same thing multiple times, from different people, to make it stick. Pat Monster is now three women who last week banned me from running Google searches on The Neighbor. Ever. Again. I’ll call them Pat 1, Pat 2 and Pat 3.
Pat 1 said: “I love you. I don't know how much to trust the Internet. But stop looking up The Neighbor. It will only drive you crazy. I just got coupons for sandwiches. Let’s hit up the sandwich shop soon.”
Pat 2 said, “I have a hard time believing she’s holding down any job. Let alone get past the interview. I'd stop Googling. If you Google my name, it tells you I bullied a teenager until she killed herself. Google does not connect the dots well.”
Pat 3 said: “What Pat 1 and Pat 2 said.”
They were right. I'd created my own threat. After two-and-a-half years of silence, it’s best to live in the peace. That includes a level of confidence. Not allowing The Neighbor to continue terrorizing me. Including creating mental scenarios of another showdown. Which is what Pat 1-3 gently reminded me of. Still providing necessary support. Acknowledging my fears. While reminding me of life in the here and now.
Confronting the other monster I created in my head.
I slapped my wrists again. They're right. Absolutely right. Time to live in the moment. Employing mental strength to not let that horrible monster make me live in fear again. Sure. It's entirely possible my path and The Neighbor's path could cross again. It's also entirely possible that North Korea could figure out how to launch a rocket and attack my country. Until that day happens--The Neighbor and me having a second showdown--I need to choose to live in peace.
And keep a copy of my stalking order in my car. Just in case.
I decided to go for a walk. To cool off. Without worrying about who I’ll encounter.
Because that's my right, also.