He nursed me to health. Now he’s stalking me. Help!

By Emily Yoffe, Slate
Posted Sept. 28, 2013, at 7:43 p.m.

Dear Prudence,

For several years I had a debilitating illness that nearly killed me and clouded my thinking. I was in the hospital for months on end.

Throughout all of it, there was a wonderful man, K, by my side who did everything to be there for me. We used to be friends but ended up as a couple during my illness, despite the fact that I was too weak for anything remotely sexual. This could have ended as a tragically doomed terminal-illness romance. But it didn’t. Despite the doctors’ expectations, I recovered. I’m healthy and I can live my life to the fullest. I’m back in school and things are going great.

With the exception of K. I broke things off with him not too long after I recovered. I felt awful about it. He’d spent so much time and energy on me that I felt as if I had taken advantage of him. But we just weren’t compatible; the illness was what held us together. It was like waking up with someone after you’ve been really, really drunk.

I tried to be gentle, but since I broke it off he has left hundreds of messages on my phone. He has accused me of emotional abuse and claimed that I’m the reason he has suicidal thoughts. I don’t want to speak to him, but what am I supposed to tell a guy who sends me an email saying that it’s his birthday and he’s alone and asking me to just talk for five minutes?When I’ve done this it ends up with him confessing his love!

I should be grateful to him, but I just can’t stand him. Please help.

- I’m Done

Dear Done,

You’ve awakened from an illness that threatened to end your life, only to find you’re starring in a stalker movie. Your situation brought to mind the film of the Stephen King novel, “Misery.” (Please don’t see it.) K is not your Florence Nightingale, he’s not your friend, and he was never your boyfriend.

Your analogy about drunkenness is apt, but K sounds like the kind of person who instead of waiting for you to get drunk on your own, would slip you a roofie. But he didn’t have to: Your illness put you in a state in which you were not capable of giving consent to a relationship. K used your incapacity to insinuate himself into your life while getting everyone to think he was a sainted presence beside your bed.

I’m sure what he actually wanted to do was get into your bed, so thank goodness you were surrounded by bustling hospital staff. K sounds disturbed; he must leave you alone. His behavior and threats of suicide because of you are alarming. I hope you’ve kept his texts and emails, especially those that blame you for his thoughts of violence.

You may not have made it clear to him that your interactions must cease, so do so unequivocally. Respond to his latest text or email by saying he should call the suicide prevention hotline because he needs to talk to a professional about these thoughts. Then tell him it’s your wish that you two not communicate anymore, period. If he violates this, you need to talk to the police. Explain the situation and say his behavior is escalating.

If you are a college student, also bring this to the attention of the campus police. I don’t want to unnecessarily worry you, but I believe you are being stalked, so you need to take steps to educate yourself and get the help you need. I’m glad you survived one ordeal, and sorry you are facing another. Here’s hoping K just slinks away.

- Prudie

 Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. Questions may be edited.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/09/28/living/he-nursed-me-to-health-now-hes-stalking-me-help/ printed on July 30, 2014