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This is a question Stalked

Have you been stalked? Or have you done the stalking? Is that you in the bushes outside with the nightvision goggles?

(, Thu 31 Jan 2008, 15:40)
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My tale, and the guilt that follows
My first ever b3ta post, after I registered specifically so I could tell this tale.

I was once a stalker and it remains the one thing of which I am most deeply ashamed.

Names are of course changed to protect the innocent.

I first met Betty in 1985 when we were both 12 years old. She and I were in the same second year class and so had virtually all lessons together. She was insanely pretty with gorgeous hazel eyes, a warm velvety voice even at that age and a nose that turned up at the end. I did the usual thing of admitting to friends that I fancied her, she found out, laughed and rejected me (I wasn't the coolest kid in the class by a long shot) and we stayed casual classmates for the rest of that year.

The following school year I'd still see her around, still thought she was one of the most gorgeous women I'd ever met, but contented myself with nursing a secret crush. No need to take any action.

Then the following year at age 14 (this was 1987) my heart went out to her again when I saw her again after the summer holidays. I knew I had to do something to let her know how I feel. So I took one of her friends aside and asked if I could have her address to write to her. Her friend thought that was really sweet of me and so happily handed over the details. That night I wrote a three page letter telling her I was in love with her and how much I liked her and that whilst I knew I wasn't the coolest person to be around, I hoped she'd find some way of responding.

I waited three days for a reaction, but nothing came. I'd see her around and smile at her but she ignored me and breezed past. This was confusing to my adolescent mind. A reciprocation would have been nice, a rejection not too unexpected but still devastating, but no reaction at all? I wrote again a week later and asked her to let me know how she felt. Still exactly the same.

Thus began for me what I now look back on as an incredibly disturbing obsession. I would write to her regularly, at least once a week, telling her how nice she looked and how I was feeling that week. I'd sit in school assemblies and make sure I had line of sight to her so I could look at her and wrap myself up in her beauty. I'd wait around at lunchtimes near where I knew she would be so she would have to walk past me, just to give her the chance to acknowledge me. I sent her presents sometimes, on valentines day sending her a teddy bear in a box thanks to a mail order company that posted them anonymously in exchange for a postal order.

In all this time she never once reacted at all. She must not have even mentioned the extent of my pestering to her friends, as they were all supportive and co-operative when I confided in them of my feelings, saying she probably didn't know how I was feeling etc. One of them even gave me her telephone number although I never dared call her. I just wrote and told her that I knew it, but that I actually respected her privacy and wasn't ever going to call her. To me that sounded reassuring but looking back it must have seemed still rather sinister and scary.

This went on for a full eight months. The whole school knew I fancied her and would spend time hanging around like a lovesick puppy, but clearly nobody knew just what I was putting her through. The truth of the matter finally hit home to me the following spring when one of my own friends made a casual remark about how she had mentioned to one of her own friends about how she "sometimes wonders if he's going to jump out of a bush and rape me." I was utterly horrified and had to go somewhere alone to think. All this time I was trying to make her like me and trying to reach out and communicate with her in the only way I felt secure doing, and in actual fact I must have been scaring the life out of her. I immediately knew I'd done something that could not be undone. My letters and attention stopped. I put Betty out of my head and turned my affections to another girl who acted swiftly to put me in my place.

We had one more year at school together after which she left to stay to college. My only attempt at talking to her in this time was at the end of the final week of school when I was collecting signatures from everyone I knew. I approached her and a friend in the canteen one lunchtime and asked for their scrawl in my book. Her friend obliged and while she was doing so Betty took her leave of the situation without saying a word. My lasting regret was that I never really knew what she made of the whole situation and never really had the means to say sorry. Deep down it was my personal guilty secret.

That would have been the end of that but for the fact that fate threw us together again. I had a holiday job in between university terms working for an accountancy firm in the nearest city. Christmas 1992 I reported for my regular three week stint entering data and nearly died of fright on the spot as Betty walked past to her desk where she was now a secretary. I spent the morning hardly daring to move, even to the coffee machine and had to look her up in the office telephone book to convince myself it was really her.

Somehow I made it to the end of the holiday without having to confront the situation, but on my final afternoon I drew breath and wrote her an email on the internal system. In it I said I was too much of a coward to talk to her properly but then recounted to her what I knew I had done when we were at school together, how I had discovered what it was doing to her, how I had spent four years with it all on my conscience and how bittery, deeply sorry I was for putting her through what for a teenage girl must have been a rather strange and scary situation. I told her I would be back in the office at Easter and hoped we could start afresh from there. I hit the Send button at 5.30pm and ran out of the office without looking back.

Come the following Easter she was still there. No reply or comment was forthcoming and without any real reason to talk to her there was nothing more I could say or do. Time passed. I graduated and the holiday job turned into a full time position as the office computer assistant. Thus I was working with Betty every day and sometimes had to help her out with issues. Over time the atmosphere thawed between us. I could walk up and ask her something without shitting myself, she would ring me with a problem she wanted me to solve and I could even at times banter with her, making a crack about not wanting to be kicked when I had to crawl under her desk to untangle some cables. The only time I ever came close to confronting the past was at the Christmas party one year when we wound up sitting together in a semi-sober state. She initiated a conversation about watching managers make twats of themselves on the dance floor and asked how I was. I told her I was fine and then drunkenly mumbled about how I knew so much shit had gone down in the past but I was very glad I knew her. She seemed to clam up at this point and moved away. Clearly the scars were still there.

I made one last effort to make amends. In early 96, almost ten years since it all happened I was set to leave the office and move on in my career. In my last week I handed over my duties and then approached Betty and suggested that given I'd probably never see her again, how about I take her to lunch to say goodbye. Rather than respond, she groaned and looked at me pleadingly, as if begging me not to make her give an answer. I immediately let her off the hook, told her the offer was there if she wanted to take me up on it but I understood why she might not and assured her I would not ask again. I walked back to my desk slightly crushed, knowing that I would never be able to put the matter to rest.

It is now 20 years since my obsession and from time to time I'm still tormented by the thought of how I behaved. The concept of stalking did not exist back then, but that's what I was doing, trying to attach myself to every aspect I could of a person's life, just to get them to notice me and like me. Part of me wonders just what would have happened if she had told me where to stick it after I had sent the first letter. Maybe I would not have got the message straight away, but after the third time I probably would. This is of course is an attempt to deflect the blame, and I can't really do that.

So there you have it. I was once a stalker and it is for me the darkest stain I have on my character. You might say 20 years is a long time to beat yourself up over something, but I remain haunted by that final conversation when I quit the accountancy job. Even after all that time, even after working alongside me for three and a half years and treating me as a trusted colleague, it seems she was not able to look me in the eye and forgive me for the way I behaved. Without that, I'm not sure I can ever forgive myself either.

Usual length comments apply, but I hope you see why I had to tell it all.
(, Tue 5 Feb 2008, 16:26, closed)
Effin A
It took a lot of courage to write that and it hopefully it'll help you put those demons to rest.
It takes a lot of honesty with oneself to see what happened and the effect that you had.
*Click* for honesty
(, Tue 5 Feb 2008, 16:34, closed)
I'm truly touched.
That story bought a tear to my eye,
(, Tue 5 Feb 2008, 16:35, closed)
was it just me
or did everyone else here that in DLTs voice?

*clicks for sharing*
(, Tue 5 Feb 2008, 16:36, closed)

*Clicks*. To be honest, she sounds like a bit of a bitch to not be able to forgive you.
(, Tue 5 Feb 2008, 16:41, closed)
title
I'm not too sure Slaughter, sometimes things can deeply affect someone and although it doesn't sound like she dealt with it particularly well. She still had to deal with someone sending letters, even well intentioned ones, stating that they knew their phone number and telling her how they felt.
(, Tue 5 Feb 2008, 16:44, closed)
@ magictorch
So for you Betty here's "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley

Sorry - I fought so hard not to
(, Tue 5 Feb 2008, 16:44, closed)
Cripes alive
That's got the lot.

Touching tale, well written.

- then the DLT comments for a much-needed laugh.

...and coming after Newsbeat, it's Rockwell...
(, Tue 5 Feb 2008, 16:48, closed)
I really hope it was cathartic to put all of that down...
Love, whether requited or otherwise, f*cks us all up in some way at some time in our lives. I don't think you need to feel guilty any more. Reading that - it didn't seem as if Betty was in a relationship for any of the four years you worked in the same office, or if so you've left that bit out. If it was the case that she was single all that time, possibly she had / has issues herself.
Compared to most tales on here, you didn't act in a "bad" way given your age and certainly should, if you've moved on as a person, forgive yourself. Not forgiving yourself about what happened - which was really very, very little in the grand scheme of things - is possibly a way of holding onto "something" with Betty; it's the only emotion you have left concerning her. Let it go, forgive yourself, don't see her as perfect, and move on. Unless you enjoy being tormented, in which case...
Sorry to get all armchair psychologist - what do I know ? Great post though.
(, Tue 5 Feb 2008, 16:51, closed)
Welcome to the board
That moved me. Heartbreakingly honest, although, as I know to my cost, memory is a funny thing and we all lie to ourselves most of the time.

The key here is your intention, and that, to me, seems to have been honest and well-meaning. No-one can blame a teenager for the effect of hormones, as your 30-something self can attest to.

Have you found love since then? I hope so, and I hope it was/is mutual. Gaz me if you want to talk - anytime.

Che
(, Tue 5 Feb 2008, 17:00, closed)
As the others said.. forgive yourself
The difference between a stalker and what you did, is that you tried to understand (albeit later) how your however-well-meaning activities towards Betty were likely to affect her.

A real (tm) stalker doesn't think about the feelings of the victim of their desires. You were a bit naive when you started and in the attempt to "plead your case" which a bit of the fear into her.

To your credit you admitted to her that you felt awful about what had happened and from what I read non-threateningly apologised for it. What she did with the apology is on her and you can't make people "understand" which you've pretty much discovered.

From the end of the work at the office it seemed like she was less in fear of you so I would say that's probably as good as you're gonna get. Good for you for writing it, shows how a normal person (cept for the B3TA addiction) can seem abnormal depending on how they get viewed.

Thanks for writing.
(, Tue 5 Feb 2008, 17:16, closed)
Erm . . .
So you basically continued to pester her? You are still obsessed mate and a proper stalker!

Let me guess, she is gorgeous, you are an ugly IT geek?

I bet she wished you would just fuck off and leave her alone rather than continually trying to bring it up.

The decent thing to do would be to not go back to that place of work after you realised she worked there.
(, Tue 5 Feb 2008, 17:24, closed)
I have to agree with Slaughter
Your very brave, I could never write anything so honest on b3ta.

But the whole time whilst reading it, I think she was being quite harsh, just completly ignoring you.

*click*
(, Tue 5 Feb 2008, 17:25, closed)
I don't think you were really that bad
More of a teenage crush type thing - everybody acted like a complete fool around the opposite sex. Letter writing sounds quite tame compared with some of the other tales on the QOTW.

In fact, given your actions later on in the tale, I'd say you acted in a very gentlemanly way.

Oh yeah, well written...clicky.
(, Tue 5 Feb 2008, 17:26, closed)
whoa...
..that aint stalking.

That's being an awkward teenager. Don't beat yourself up over that, I don't think you did anything particularly wrong there.

Christ, I used to ring girls up I fancied and ask their mums if I could speak with them. Then panic and hang up before they got to the phone - probably scared the shit out of them - and that's way worse than this mostly because it never occurred to my hormonal 14 year old brain that this was fucking creepy.

Shit, I was a stalker. A rubbish one.
(, Tue 5 Feb 2008, 17:26, closed)
CLICK...
..for your honesty in writing this tale. It can't have been easy.

Ask yourself: if she had asked you to leave her alone (or got a friend to do it) in those early stages, as she should have done, would you have carried on writing and sending presents? If not, as I suspect is the case, you cannot class yourself as a stalker. There are plenty of replies describing real stalkers and the terrible effects they have on people's lives, and they all have one thing in common - they wouldn't take no for an answer. You never got no for an answer until it was too late, and when you eventually realised you had caused harm you tried to make amends.

Don't beat yourself up, and take Mordred's excellent advice and put it behind you if you can. Good luck.
(, Tue 5 Feb 2008, 17:59, closed)
Wow..
Thank you all for your comments. I'm amazed so many actually took the time to wade through it all. I have never told anyone this story before and it does feel good to confess the sins so to speak.

Just to reassure you, I'm happily married to a wonderful girl who was prepared to leave her family 1000 miles away just so she could be with me. Whatever sins I may have committed in the past, fate seems to have decided I've attoned for them now.

As for Betty, part of me hopes she reads this, recognises herself and laughs at what a twat I am for worrying over it all this time.
(, Tue 5 Feb 2008, 18:07, closed)
Thats nothing ...
... just normal teen crushes.

At least you didn't plough through the phone book calling every person with the same last name as the girl you fancied until you got the right one then being so fucked in the head to actually say anything other than "hi".

Shit I even did that for teachers. They had the sense to go ex-directory though.

Well whatever, nice post, gutsy and cool.
Clicky for thee
(, Tue 5 Feb 2008, 18:44, closed)
nice one
I was deeply touched to read your story. All the best.
(, Tue 5 Feb 2008, 23:06, closed)
Awwwww....
not stalking... but the simple reason she didnt reply... was because you just freaked her out... but decided to continue it for 10 years... sorry to laugh... I shouldn't type this... but oh dear...
(, Wed 6 Feb 2008, 0:15, closed)
Frogive yourself
You know now. And to be honest you didn't make her read the letters did you?
If they were affecting her that much then she could have got her parents to get rid of them without her knowing they'd come.

Move along sir. Go on. You know you want to.
(, Wed 6 Feb 2008, 0:19, closed)
well done mate
That was beautiful. Poetic, melancholy, sweet and sad.
I genuinely hope you win over the hundreds of stupid stories ppl are posting.
(, Wed 6 Feb 2008, 0:20, closed)
BETTY
good man for getting it out. Life is too short too hold onto hangups like that. You've realised the mistake and seem to be sincerely apologetic about it so move on.

good luck fella !
(, Wed 6 Feb 2008, 12:06, closed)

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