Saturday, February 12, 2011

the black widow spider speaks

There is a large family gathering this weekend in a small Texas town that my husband, children and I will not be attending.

Why, you are supposed to ask?

We won't go because one individual attending is guilty of (though not to be confused with feels guilty for) years of hounding harrassing stalking me in the form of letters.

Lengthy, hand written letters, perfect in penmanship, perfectly straight lines on unlined paper. Sometimes three pages, sometimes seven, sometimes fourteen pages long.

And no, I never wrote him any letters, ever.

This letter writer would be a close member of Sam's family. Blood kin. Sam's best friend for many years.

Do any of you remember when the first stalking laws passed, maybe fifteen years ago? Well I remember like it was yesterday. So guess who was first in line at the police station pouring her heart out opening her letters up to whomever would help?

Now imagine a crusty, old, balding detective bastard, and yes, he earned the title bastard, listening to a young newbie shrink-in-town describe her husband's family member/former best friend's frightening, demonizing, clinically crazy letters.

Guess who humbly and pleadingly asked the detective bastard to sharpen his newly legislatively empowered pencil and unleash his arrest warrant powers?

And guess what the first question the detective bastard asked me?

What does your husband think of all this?

All this? What does my husband think? Is this freaking 1889 where I need his permission to press charges? I am the victim here. But rather than argue with the patronizing detective bastard, I opted to unveil a few choice samples of the letters.

And this is where you'd probably like for me to quote verbatim from my eight-inch stack of hate mail. Except I can't won't put my hands on them right now. I think, but am not sure, they are up in some remote corner my attic.

But here are a few choice phrases that are forever seared into my memory I recall:

! In one of the earliest screeds, he called me the black widow spider. And lest I miss his meaning, he provided a large illustration of a spider on a web complete with red hour glass.

! I was accused of wielding my psychological powers to manipulate his family into doing my evil bidding, in particular to control the individual who controlled his purse strings. He affectionately termed my powers, Susanna's* Secrets.

*Let's say that my given name is Susanna but I have gone by Susie my whole life and have avoided ever going by the name Susanna, because it sounded pretentious and was only used by angry mothers, grandmothers, teachers and nuns. Therefore the weight of Susanna's Secrets was all the more onerous.

! In one letter I was called an east coast yankee carpet bagging* beady-eyed bitch.

*Carpet bagging? What does that mean exactly? In my case, I mean? At the time he wrote that line I was somewhere in the last stages of getting my doctorate. Whose carpet was I bagging, exactly?

! He threatened that if I didn't put an end to Susanna's Secrets I would regret it, be sorry, and pay in terrible pain. To emphasize this point he drew of a large knife dripping in red blood.

! He accused me of murdering my best friend*. My crime was failing to discourage her from moving on with her life and pursuing a new relationship. My method of murder, of course, was her contracting HIV from the new guy. Duh.

*His former girlfriend, who, by the way, was, and is, quite alive and doing much better without his letter-writting ass.

!He threatened to take action to have my license revoked by reporting Susanna's Secrets to my oversight board. He claimed that by consoling and offering support to my friend, his former girlfriend, I was violating the board's rule of ethics. If he was to do this, I would have suffered the aggravation and likely the legal expense of defending myself. This caused me quite a bit of worry, moreso than knives dripping in blood.

!He tampered with a picture of me that was hanging on his mother's wall. A picture of my husband and me sitting close, smiling big, taken several months after our twins were born. It was one of many in a montage-type frame. He had apparently carefully dismantled the frame, removed the picture, cut the eyes out, replaced it, and re-hung the frame.

!He said that I waddled when I walked. Now, here you shall know the true evil that resides within me. The sin of vanity. This waddling business caused me just slightly less anxiety than the licensing board worries.

The short story is this: The police did not issue a warrant. Though one year or so later one was issued after he letter-stalked a friend of the family. He did get arrested. He did go to jail. He was let out on bond by the purse strings: Obviously Susanna's Secrets were not working. He failed to appear in court. Nothing further happened except the rising blood pressure and dismay of one black widow spider.

We haven't seen the author of the manuscripts, as we call them, in almost twenty years. He lives in Sam's hometown, jobless, supported by his mother my mother-in-law the purse strings. He has never met or, to my knowledge, laid eyes on my kids, other than photos.

For the record, Sam was fully supportive of my pressing charges. He sat with me through a previous report in his hometown. Made the call, even. I am grateful for his pledge to stay away from him, made without my asking.

I've gradually moved beyond fear (most of the time) to appreciating the humor of it all. I used to have a rubber spider stick-on stuck to the dash of my car. Some of the letter phrasings have become code words. When I don't give Sam his way? Damned beady-eyed bitch. When the purse strings lean in our favor? Susanna's Secrets are finally working.

And so we won't be going to the reunion this weekend. The scribbler will be there. He'll be driving his mother, my children's grandmother the purse strings.

As for those letters, I'll leave them in their attic grave, no doubt closely guarded by a black widow spider whom, I know, has got my back.


hokgardner said...

What a terrible, scary situation.

Salted with Shadows said...

WOW. Horrifying.

shrink on the couch said...

Thanks. Even after all these years, it's nice to have the scary aspect validated. Which is to say, not been acknowledged from all branches of the tree.

dkuroiwa said... so scary.
to have some psycho stalking is bad enough, have that person be a member of your family? wow.
i wonder what the rest of the family think of this person.

Jenn @ Youknow...that Blog? said...

That's really unnerving! What does the "purse strings" have to say? Is the rest of the family in denial about the entire thing? Have they read the letters?? Surely anyone living on this side of sanity can see that the writer was clearly on the other side. Scary stuff...

Red Shoes said...

Damn... your husband's family sounds like my family.

I currently have an issue with a stalker at work... it's NOT fun...


Unknown said...

That must have been absolutley terrifying! I can't even imagine how that would feel...Esp. when it's a person that close to the family!

Ash said...

Holy cow, wow girl. Good choice on not going. I'd say that pretty much gives you a lifetime hall pass.


Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

That is crazy. And your MIL says?

Kathleen Scott said...

Damn. That's frightening. If I put this in a novel, no one would believe it. It's too unhinged.

How could your mother-in-law countenance the lunatic? Or is she as crazy as he is.

Hope he and she get what they deserve.

Kathleen Scott said...

PS In Miami someone in your position would go to the Botega and buy a doll. Then stick it full of pins, run over it, set it on fire and drown it in a bucket of pinesol.

Magpie said...

Damn. That sounds horrible.

Coffeypot said...

It's Texas...hire a couple of ‘foreigners’ to take him to El Paso out in the desert and become bar-b-q for the vulchers.

Mrs. G. said...

I applaud your bravery and the detective's reaction is so typical of the horror abused women looking for protection dealt with for far too long. This is the kind of shit that makes me want to live in a one room cabin in the middle of nowhere--but with internet connection.

slow panic said...

It's horrifying that there are people out there like that. So sorry you had to go through that.

Unknown said...

wow that's f-ed up!!!

Rachel Cotterill said...

What a horrible thing :( I'm glad that you're able to put it behind you and just choose not to see him.

Susan said...

Odd that families will seem to embrace the psychotic one and live without seeing the wounded ones. So great that your husband has always supported you through this.

Lee said...

Geez...what a weird situation. I wonder what your official diagnosis of this sad sack is, besides stalker. Paranoid something or other?

As you know, I had to abandon my previous blog and create a new one due to a stalker-type high school boyfriend.

Iron Chef Kosher! said...

Firstly, let me say that I am glad you are safe, happy you are dealing with this appropriately & disgusted at any sexism that attempts to turn a grown woman into a child/chattel.

That said, from the article I gathered (call me psychic) that this is your brother-in-law. Is it at all possible that the officer asked what your husband thought because of that, & not sexism?

shrink on the couch said...

Iron Chef - Undoubtedly anyone would be curious. But he seemed extremely leerie of my entire presentation and unwilling to get anything going. He never mentioned the stalking law or how it might apply. It wasn't until the following visit to the precinct with my husband in tow that the officer seemed to take me seriously.

Dr. Deb said...

OMG, how horrifying.

Lisa Wheeler Milton said...

Scary, scary stuff. I'm so sorry you have had to deal with that.

(I had to cancel some family plans last year for far less crazy albeit very upsetting circumstances and I was floored that many family members were okay with my absence. I applaud the way you protect your chldren, and yourselves from this drama.)

JCK said...

I'm so sorry. This is horrifying that you had to go through this.

I think it is powerful that you shared it, as there are bound to be other women who need to hear your story.

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Tammy said...

Horrible and scary situation. I don't blame you for not going to the reunion, I wouldn't go anywhere near him. It's even more creepy that he continues to be supported by the MIL. Wow, just wow.

Glennis said...

Creepy. I'm sorry you have to deal with it. How very weird.

I'm not sure I understand one thing - are the letters still coming, or have they stopped after the arrest?

shrink on the couch said...

Aunt Snow -- The letters stopped for a period of time after his arrest but then he started writing to his sister, who of course called to relay all thirteen pages. I think there was a final letter, a couple years later, addressed to my husband. On the address line he had written, "Sammy Boy!" followed by our address. The guy has a flare for the dramatic, I will give him that.