Jenny Lou 3 (And Some Li Po)
For the first and second parts of this story, read:
• Jenny-Lou 1 and
• Jenny-Lou 2.
In my previous entry, I left off at the point where I had made the decision to end things between Jenny-Lou and I once and for all. I knew that it would be difficult, because she was simply too obsessive about our friendship to take any of the not-so-subtle hints that I didn’t want to have her imposing herself on me in every area of my life on a daily basis.
The hardest part about it was going to be not allowing myself to give in to my more maternal instincts to protect her. Her bizarre illness, lifelong social shunning, and obvious desire for friendship made me feel as though I must be a horrible person for wishing nasty things upon her. I was stuck in this tug-of-war within myself, half of me being too nice and sympathetic to tell her to go fuck herself and half of me hoping that her illness would just consume her already, ending her pathetic life and all the stress she caused me and countless other victims.
I may be sounding a little cold anyway, but don’t let her high level of patheticness fool you into seeing her as any kind of victim. She saw herself as a victim and loved to play up that view by telling and retelling stories of the string of "friends” who turned their backs on her, but the truth was far from what she wanted to portray. She put on a gentle and loving exterior, but she pursued her own agenda without a thought for anyone else. In reality, she was one of the most selfish people I had ever met.
Requests that she not drop by my apartment unannounced were ignored. On several occasions she woke me up by knocking on my apartment door (an unannounced visit), and then would try to engage me in long conversations, despite the fact that I would tell her I wanted to go back to sleep. Expressing my desire to continue talking with the people I had come with to a restaurant or pub was met with about thirty seconds of impatient silence followed by more attempts to engage me. She may have put on the exterior of a caring and genuine human being, but she had no actual interest in acknowledging the desires of others or accommodating them.
It took me a long time to realize that I was being stalked by a sociopath. She was female, straight, über religious, and physically gentle; she didn’t fit in with my pre-conceived notions that stalkers were male, sexually obsessive, and prone to physical violence. It wasn’t until I came across a site that outlined what stalking was that I started to clue in to why Jenny-Lou’s attempts at friendship were affecting me so heavily emotionally. The website focussed on stalkings by males of females, but when I took the gender issue out of it, everything applied.
I found myself suffering deep feelings of futility, because I had lost so much control over my own life. I cycled between feeling a lot of anger and hatred toward Jenny-Lou and then chastising myself for being cold and unsympathetic to the conditions of her life. My self-confidence all but bottomed out as I began to question whether I was someone anyone other than Jenny-Lou would want to be friends with. My social isolation had become fairly extreme. When I finally was able to look at her behaviour for what it was, I felt immense relief. I no longer had to be the victim of this strange woman’s bizarre behavioural issues. What she was doing to me was wrong, no matter what her personal trials were.
The day I decided that all communication between us must end, she found me in the gift shop I managed. Before I could muster up the courage to tell her that our relationship had to be severed, she launched into a huge story about all of the awful events that were suddenly happening in her life. Her uncle was diagnosed with terminal cancer, her aunt had just passed on and there was an impending funeral, her mother was in the hospital with some heart problem that they couldn’t diagnose, and she was having much more severe allergic reactions recently. She wanted to know if I would go to the funeral with her for support.
It had been weeks since I had willingly spoken with her or spent any time with her, so this request was extra pathetic. On top of that, she told me that I was the only person close enough to her outside her family that she felt she could call on in her time of need. She was doing her best to wear down my resistance with a call for human sympathy, but I just couldn’t do it anymore. I knew that if I buckled and helped out this time, that I would be stuck with her forever. Normally, I would help out anyone going through so much at once, but normally the consequences of helping out don't include a complete loss of privacy and social control.
I told her no. She upped the ante. She asked if I would go visit relatives in the hospital with her. I told her no. She asked if I would have coffee with her so she could unburden herself. I told her no. It was all or nothing. Instead of feeling that I was being cruel, I felt more and more anger at her for asking me over and over for support I was obviously not willing to give after all she had put me through. And it felt good. She could try as hard as she wanted, but I didn’t have to let her in, not even a little bit. When our conversation ended, her face held a look of such grief and defeat, but I would not be moved.
Since that day, the Fiery One and I run into Jenny-Lou only occasionally. She seemed finally to accept that I didn't want to be her best friend forever and ever. She still lives in our building, but she rarely comes and knocks on our door anymore. She no longer hunts me down in pubs and cafés like she used to. My workplace is Jenny-Lou free. I have met other people that she has stalked and guilted and attempted to convert, and their stories are much the same. One of them moved three times to avoid her, and she found him and his telephone number every time. I’m glad it didn’t go that far for me.
What that time left me with is an ongoing mistrust of people and how they choose to present themselves. When I meet new people offering potential friendships, I am very reticent to pursue them. I find myself thinking that new friends are too much trouble and that I’ve got enough people in my life. These feelings were worse shortly after the situation was resolved, and they are easing up slowly over time, but two years later, I still prefer to keep any new acquaintances I meet at arm’s distance. And I still enter my apartment building from the alley through a back door.
More poetry by Li Po
This just in: choosing not to have children is “...a form of rebellion against God’s design and order”, and it is “...our responsibility to raise boys to be husbands and fathers and girls to be wives and mothers”. Eek.
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