To speak about my ex-boyfriend, I’m going to transport myself back to my freshman year of college. By which I mean that I’m listening to old Ani Difranco and drinking Miller Lite that’s not quite cold enough because I got impatient. For good measure, I’m going to imagine myself 20 lbs lighter. Let me start by saying, I’m not proud of the story I’m about to share.

Like most kids in college, I was making lots of really awesome decisions. I worked as a cocktail waitress at a nightclub to earn extra money, even though I was studying my ass off to keep my scholarship money and maintain a 3.5. The first night I worked at the bar, my manager told me that any man I met at there was bad news. His best piece of advice was to never, ever, under any circumstances at all, give my phone number out. “None of these creeps are men you want to see outside of work.” It was supposed to be our motto.

So, like the super-mature eighteen year old I was, I quickly ignored his advice. I met a guy named Jason who bought rounds of shots for everyone in the bar, wore shirts as tight as mine and had a tribal tattoo. Hey, I said I wasn’t proud. Jason seemed like a harmless, mid-twenties meathead interested in scoring with an inexperienced college freshman. I gave him my number and a little bit more than that before the whole thing was through.

This should be a relatively uninteresting, though extremely embarrassing story. Expect that Jason wasn’t just a meathead. He was a mentally ill meathead. I don’t use mentally ill in an exaggerated, blase sort of way. I say mentally ill because I’m positive that Jason had mental issues. He seemed to distort reality, assuming a familiarity that we never had the time to grow. He quickly began to threaten any man who bought drinks from me. (Remember, I was a cocktail waitress.) He was extremely protective and wanted me to quit school to live with him. Apparently, being his housemate was a full-time job. He was increasingly unhinged and more than a little frightening in his devotion.

When I ended things with Jason, which happened pretty quickly, he didn’t respond well. I thought we had a pretty solid agreement. Then I came home from work at 2:30am and found him in my home. He was upset and I was pretty petrified. Apparently natural instincts don’t lie because Jason threw me into a bookcase before I finally got him to leave. This should’ve been plenty of reason to stop speaking to Jason for the rest of my life.

But my story doesn’t end here. Jason’s affection was unhealthy, but it was also the strongest emotional reaction that I had ever caused in someone. In my immature and confused teenage mind, this man loved me so much that he literally went insane at the thought of us breaking up. At the time, I didn’t realize that Jason’s obsession had nothing to do with me and everything to do with his own confused psyche. Thankfully, I moved away from the city pretty quickly after Jason and I broke up. There were no more late night visits. But when my life was feeling overwhelming or stressful, I still called Jason. When my self-esteem was failing, I just wanted to talk to someone who cared about me. Through it all, I knew that Jason did. For two years, I called my ex-boyfriend as if he were my support system. He always answered. He didn’t threaten or try to control me. He just listened to my stories and told me that it would all get better.

I know that it wasn’t fair. I’m terribly sorry if I put him through even more pain because I was selfish and immature. A little while ago, I realized that I’ve finally forgotten Jason’s phone number. Now, I couldn’t call even if I wanted to. I hope that he is doing well. I hope he got some counselling and met someone wonderful. Now when I think of him, I barely remember the night everything got so scary. I remember all those conversations when he told me that I was beautiful and wonderful and worth something. Jason and I’s story might seem a little Lifetime-Movie-esque, but I don’t think he’s the worst ghost out there.