A Brief Note to My Online Stalker

  1. In the past, I had stalkers as a writer and as a teacher. Two followed me around in person, one just carried out his campaign online. Decades ago, I had a stalker who was actually planning a mass murder, in Canada. He wasn’t just stalking me. Inspired by the L’Ecole Polytechnique massacre, he was stalking around thirty women who had gained admission to Universities that had rejected him. Long story short, I wrote about it. My story, in a newspaper article and on the national news got him arrested. If I have learned anything about stalkers it’s this: cockroaches run when you shine the light on them. So, to anyone who is not a stalker and who might be reading this, if you ever have a stalker, make sure everyone around you knows about it. Your stalker relies on silence and darkness. If people around you know to expect them, they can’t get to you. The only way to stay safe is to stay in the light.
  2. So, the point of this? I have a stalker right now. It feels just as creepy as it ever did. At first, it triggered all kinds of feelings of fear, the urge to hide, anxiety, all of it. Stalkers depend on that crap, they feed on it. It sustains them. Their image of themselves in the world depends on their ability to intimidate others.
  3. Stalkers don’t usually want anything specific from the people they’re stalking except their fear. Stalkers exist to create fear. That is a fact. They gather information in order to threaten their prey. If you ignore them, they will escalate. They want you to notice them and they want you to keep it a secret. They want you to feel as though you’ve done something that makes you deserve to be threatened.
  4. So this is for my stalker: I know you’re here. I see what you do. I don’t know why you do it, but it feels threatening and I assume it’s meant to feel that way. You seem focused on my work with Dante’s material, which is strange, even baffling. But I’m assuming you think The Divine Comedy is somehow a life story or a confession. So it needs to be said; my adaptation of Dante’s Divine Comedy, like any adaptation of a classical literary work, is a work of fiction. It is based on familiar aspects of life in this contemporary world, which is to say, it uses the vernacular of my life, but it is not a factual record of my life. Pour over it to your heart’s content. One would think this would be self-explanatory; the Cantos all have the same titles as they do in the original work, they follow the same pattern, they say the same things. The titles of every Canto, are Dante’s titles. Most of the verses are Dante’s verses, translated to a contemporary setting that I know well. The locations are, likewise, Dante’s locations. So highlight to your heart’s content, it doesn’t give you a weapon. To someone who is barely literate, trying to read this kind of work might be hard. I tried to make it simple, but I understand a reader of a classically based work needs some background in reading classics to get it. So I know there could be some confusion for a person who approaches my work with malicious intent. A piece that’s written in the first person might seem immediate, it might seem like a personal narrative, and to an extent, it is, but only to the extent that it is meant to draw a reader into a journey that allows them to reflect on their own lives. Writing for an audience is never personal, it is personalized. Margaret Atwood never lived in Gilead, but she knew what it might be like to live in Gilead based on her knowledge of her own world. To understand the work you have to have some familiarity with literary conventions. And yes, I can see you. Yes, I know what you’re trying to do. It’s ludicrous but it’s not surprising. You are making a fool of yourself. So go ahead, spin those wheels.
  5. I’m going to keep writing now. Your malice, and your mud-grubbing little mind do not define me. You used to scare me. For a long time, you sprang yourself on me at the slightest provocation. It was scary. It was hurtful, you succeeded at the task. You made threats, you lied lies, you contacted anyone you could find who cared about me and tried to convince them not to care about me. I have the receipts. Looking back, it’s hard to believe this kind of pathology exists, but here we are. Anyway, you don’t scare me anymore. Go back to your gossip, your cigarettes, your celebrity worship, and whatever other furtive, self-soothing behaviors you’ve developed. Tell yourself you’re a victim, a princess, a genius, a mastermind, warrior queen, or a put-upon waif. I don’t care. You can’t scare me anymore.

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Stephanie Borns

Stephanie Borns

Canadian/American. Interests include, music, faith vs. religion, truth vs. lies, mythology life in quarantine, food and other flotsam.