What ‘Baby Reindeer’ Taught Me About Myself

How do we talk about stalking in a way that is both accurate and kind?

Rivka Wolf
Change Becomes You

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I was an awful lot like Martha, once. Maybe not all that long ago.

When I was barely 19 years old, my mother told me that I was lying about my father’s sexual abuse. She told me this in an email, after I finally got up the courage to tell her what had happened to me.

I read that email on the floor of my best friend’s apartment on our college campus. After that moment, everything changed for me. I’d spent my entire life trying to please my mother. I’d spent my entire life trying to be who she wanted me to be. Without that guiding light, I had no idea who I was. I didn’t know who to be or where to go. All I knew was, I was unlovable.

I lost something, after that. Some vital part of myself. Some boundary between myself and others. Some way of understanding myself and my worth and my role in the world.

My college boyfriend was never actually my boyfriend. We dated a little while he was dating another woman and hiding us both from each other. When I broke up with him for the second time, he told me he’d never had feelings for me, casually denying the conversation we’d had two days before that, denying the voicemail he left me, denying my sense of reality…

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