I mean, I knew it wasn't her dog. Her dog was already in her teens when we met nearly two decades ago. But I must admit I thought she was a unique mixed breed dog with unique coloring.
Until I saw her taking her morning walk. The spitting image of her dog.
It wasn't the first time I had seen her taking her morning constitutional. In fact I think it was at least the third or fourth time. And it led me to think maybe it was a sign.
Never a good sign, despite my fond affection for her dog.
Seriously, I did search obituaries to see if hers had been posted.
And then, finding none, I tried to let it go.
But it isn't easy letting it go. A therapist I was briefly seeing during the highest point of terror told me that she had borderline personality disorder and it wasn't a matter of if the other shoe would drop, just when and how loud. Frankly, that terrified me more than all the other crazy things my ex had done. And I have lived the last nine years wondering whether the other shoe has finally dropped or if it is still waiting to drop.
One of the inspirational twitter accounts I follow - because hey, let's face it, we can all use some inspiration sometimes - this morning shared with me how we should forgive others not because they necessarily deserve it, but to bring ourselves some peace by freeing ourselves from the role of victim.
I have made progress. It used to be that every May I would re-live every day of every completely terrorizing act she had done that last month. Remember the broken items, the waking me up in the early morning, the threats, the bizarre comments she'd make to friends and family. Each day was an "anniversary" of such refreshing memories. And this May, I had a brief nagging sense that there was something I was supposed to be remembering - some event that was "special" but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.
And even the faint lingering sense of dread from seeing her dog walking had begun to fade, until yesterday morning. Yesterday morning, I discovered that she had found me on Facebook. Fortunately, she hadn't tried to friend me (she actually can't - only friends of friends can and she and I share no more friends in common), but I was surprised when I later went on via computer to see how much of me was, indeed, public that I had thought was private. Every profile picture and their comments ever were there for anyone to read.
I started to deactivate my Facebook account then and there. I still might.
But there she was. Very much alive.
I did think it odd at the time that of all the things I decided to search for was her obituary.
And as much as I may even be able to forgive her past behavior knowing that she was a victim of mental illness, I don't know if I ever will feel safe until I do know she's dead.
Trust me. I understand how odd and sad that is. I've never really wished anyone dead before.
And my rational brain knows that there isn't much she could do to harm me at this point. Any legal claims she might trump up would have passed the stature of limitations now, and either people know who I am - know my character - or they don't.
But what made her brand of terror so much fun was the unpredictability - not knowing where or who she would strike next.
And so I wonder.. and wait.. hoping all the shoes have dropped, while knowing, if she's searching for me on Facebook, she's not done. She hasn't let me go. And so I can't entirely let go of my vigilance, either.
There is no pithy end to this post. No simple sum-up. I will start to let this go again. I will become comfortable. I will feel safe again. But I may only completely let all of this go, unfortunately, over her dead body.
I would wish that on nobody.