I once befriended a woman who was down on her luck. She came from a good family, was well-educated and seemed perfectly normal, though the signs were there that the jig-saw puzzle of her life didn’t quite fit together neatly. I was traveling a lot for work. She was struggling to get back on her feet after a divorce and other hazy circumstances. I invited her into my home. She house-sat for my pets and plants. I would return, road-weary and spent from fighting corporate battles, endless flights and weeks of dull, meaningless meetings. A home-cooked dinner, fresh flowers and small gifts were waiting in my spotless home. All seemed well and I joked that she would make someone a great wife. I helped her find a house to rent, painted and decorated, and soon she settled across town.
The more time we spent together, the more I realized, the large cup she carried was not filled with just cranberry juice. She began slipping into a drunken stupor. She had several incidents that caused me to worry about her mental state. She made excuses that her life had been so uprooted she was just fighting to get back on her feet. The stories and timelines didn’t add up. The police called one night looking for her.
I cut off the relationship following one particularly stormy scene. Frankly, I was worn out by her constant crisis and slightly worried about her mental state. Six months later I came home to find my home burglarized. The items that were taken were antiques I had bought from her to “help out” when she was short of cash. There were other things missing, though some took me months to discover; my favorite winter coat, a pair of my riding boots, an antique sterling silver boot my ex-husband had given me. I reported it all to the police with my suspicions but was told:
1. She had been declared “incompetent” by the State for previous actions. This meant they were unwilling to pursue her as there was little they could do to arrest or charge her.
2. Since I had invited her into my home in the first place, the theft would be difficult to prove if they did approach her.
3. My only recourse was to try to find my things on my own.
I installed an elaborate and expensive alarm system. I felt violated and my security was shattered. I scoured the antique stores for my belongings. One store owner called me a year later. She had received a phone call from a gentleman who wanted to sell some items in a storage unit. When she went to look, she recognized paintings that had been stolen from her store. The police arrived. The very embarrassed gentleman was the father of the same woman who had returned my kindness with a theft. The store owner shared photos from the storage unit that revealed my items. I almost vomited when I looked at the little silver boot in the photo. She had taken the time to catalogue the items she took from me.
Months dragged on. I couldn’t get into the storage unit to retrieve my belongings until her parents returned from their winter home down south. The police were compassionate but couldn’t help.
Six months later, the store owner called again. She had received a rather threatening message from the woman. She charged the owner with slandering her name, (interesting perspective as no one could destroy her name more than she had done herself) and went on a rant about the fact that I suffered from multiple personalities, was a drug user and not a stable person. I had to laugh though my stomach was twisting as I listened to her voice.
The elaborate alarm system is back on. My sense of security is rocked once again. Her photo is now in both of our stores in the event she shows up when either of is not working. Precautions that seem strong, but this woman is seriously sick and one never knows where she will strike next.
That said, my life is a fairly open book due to my book and blog. I can’t shake the sense that evil is out there in the form of a person society has deemed “incompetent” yet is allowed to move through people’s lives causing grief and torment. Her family has turned their back on her. The authorities’ hands are tied. My only compensation is to know that the life she lives in her head must be very tortured and miserable…
I hope this blog post will serve as a warning to others. The time I have spent, on reliving those thoughts and fears; the emotions that twisted my guts and occupied my precious moments when I should have looked at what I have; the security of my life, the joy and comfort of coming home to a place in the world I cherish. I need to put into perspective what I have control over. Taking “things” from me will never diminish my joy, time to put this particular evil in its place and move on.
So, KC, if you are stalking me, if you are reading this in a library somewhere because you have no home, no place of happy memories and security, yes, you got my attention again today. But I vow not to live in fear of you ever again, and that, my dear, is the lesson your sickness taught me.