It was just before the stroke of midnight on a Thursday. I was crawling into bed when I heard my phone buzz from the nightstand. I reached for it halfheartedly – its screen glowing with an alert that I had a Facebook message from a name which seemed obscurely familiar.
In between yawns, I opened the message and began reading it when, two sentences in, my breath sliced through the night air with a trail of broken whispers: “You’ve got… to be… kidding me.”
It was the current girlfriend of my ex-boyfriend – a nightmare of an ex-boyfriend, in fact. I had become familiar with her name a few months prior, after having received a screenshot of a conversation she launched with one of our mutual friends – a conversation which revealed her hunt for anything she could learn about my former life with her boyfriend.
I was initially flooded with feelings of spook, mostly due to the fact that I had spent more than a year with my eyes glued to my rearview mirror (and wrestling like hell to escape from his possessive grip). However, I quickly silenced my inner critic by reminding myself that she was likely a victim of his masterful ability to spark insecurity and jealousy where unwarranted. I was happily married, at peace and felt light years from the emotional entanglement of such relationship, so I brushed the discomforting feelings aside and forgot about it.
But, six months later, here I was – this time staring at a lamenting novel in my Facebook inbox. She introduced herself before pouring her anguish into me: a total stranger yet a ghostly figure so familiar. “I’m so sorry to bother you, but I had him arrested today and I need to know… Did he ever hurt you, too?”
My immediate inclination was to play no role – not even that of a measly extra – in the saga at hand, for I was more than three years free from such captivity. But, she seemed horribly troubled, and it was tugging at my heartstrings – playing a symphony of sound I knew all too well. She seemed to be a near carbon copy of the person I had been several years prior, in fact. I recognized the heaviness in her words – almost as though a phantom of my former self had popped up in my Facebook inbox as if to say, “What’s up, girl! Can’t let you forget about me!”
I felt like a veteran survivor of a storm she was barely pulling her head out of – a storm she claimed to be desperate to depart from. I wanted to extend a lifeboat by way of my words – assuring her that life was better on dry land. By helping her, I felt I was helping the broken and traumatised girl I had once been.