For those of you who have never been to AA, you actually do say those magical words, “Hi. My name is Catherine and I’m an alcoholic.” It was weird attending my first meeting. I didn’t think I belonged. I came from a nuclear family. I was an overachiever. And I had a great career path. I wasn’t an alcoholic! But there was a period in my life when I called in sick too many mornings in a row because I was hungover. I knew, then, that I had a problem. I never completely stopped drinking. I just try to keep it in check.
All that said, I remember saying those magical words, thinking what if people could say all the bad things that they were. Not just being an alcoholic, but also all that other stuff. “Hi I’m Derrick. I’m an alcoholic and I’m a murderer.”
Or for me, “Hi I’m Catherine. I’m an alcoholic and a stalker.” I can’t be that bad…not as bad as some girls, right? But I do my fair share of stalking. Every so often, I get on WeddingChannel.com and enter in names of guys I dated.
“OmiGod, he is going to marry that white trash blonde he dumped me for?”
“Well, well, well, he finally found himself someone who said yes.”
“He said he wouldn’t do long distance. What the fuck? He’s engaged to a California chick.”
Then the scenario analysis plays out in my head.
What if I’d moved to New York?
What if I’d stayed in Chicago?
What if I told him I did want to have children?
What if I hadn’t hooked up with his friend that night we all went out?
What if I hadn’t flaked on our weekend getaway?
If I listed a handful of my most severe stalking incidents, I don’t think any guy would ever want to go out with me. EVER.
I remember getting into a heated argument. I blew up—typical for me—and charged out of the restaurant. By the time I arrived home, I had simmered down. I felt like I’d made a rash decision by storming off. Suddenly I was alone when all I craved was his company. I called…once, twice, three times. I texted…once, twice, three times. Oh no! He wasn’t answering. He wasn’t responding. I drove like a madwoman to his place. Bzzzz! Bzzzzz!!! I buzzed desperately the code on his apartment intercom. No answer. Ohhhh no! Please don’t be mad. Please answer. I’m sorry. I’ll make it all better. Please!!! Still no answer. It was almost 2am smack in the twilight zone.
I pursed my lips and shuddered. I started dialing the codes to his neighbors. A man picked up. I feared I would be yelled at for disturbing people so late in the night. He sounded wide-awake, like a computer programmer caffeinated and productively working away. “Hi,” I swallowed hard and tried to think quickly on my feet. “I’m so sorry. I locked myself out of Jake Meehan’s place.” I couldn’t think of anything else to say. I ended there.
“Oh sure. Yeah, no problem. I’ll buzz you in now.”
Bzzzzz. I was surprised. Shocked. Someone was letting a stranger into his apartment complex just because I gave him a name. That’s it. A name. Maybe I didn’t sound like a stalker. I sounded non-threatening, sweet…like I really had gotten locked out.
I knew Jake never locked his door. I guess he never thought he’d have to deal with loony stalkers like me. I pushed the door to his apartment open. I walked in like I lived there. He was on the couch, passed out in front of the TV. I found the remote, turned the TV off, and cuddled up to him. He woke up, surprised. “Catherine, honey, what are you doing here?”
“I couldn’t stay away.”