In 1992, an explosive relationship took more strength than I’d ever had to muster. From day one, every moment was so crisp and vivid that I recalled, verbatim, every word spoken in the clutches of his alcoholic insanity. Every fragment was illuminated as if in a spotlight, and an inexplicable impetus propelled me to record every volatile encounter, because it was so completely opposite of the life I had known. My dilemma was how to get out of it.
I first saw Joseph Estanopolous as the warrior he believed himself to be—a seeker of justice, a righter of great wrongs. All else I ignored: his Serpico intensity, his Larry Flynt vulgarity. It wasn’t until day two, after an electric night of sex, that I saw the Manson mania in his wild black eyes. By then, it was already too late. I had slept with him. He was in my house. And he would not leave.
This Greek man with movie-star good looks was the first to respond to my ghostwriting ad, to write his true-crime exposé about a serial killer. Intrigued, I met with him. At the coffee shop, electricity sparked between us and we began a torrid affair that turned into tumultuous confrontations. Oblivious to the warning signs—domineering, volatile—when he asked, “Do you want to make love to me?” I said yes. The next morning, when he demanded that I give him $200, under the duress of three hours’ nonstop browbeating, I cashed my new temp paycheck. He greedily swiped the greens from my palm. “Drive me to the dog track.”
He insinuated himself into my life—body and soul—and made my home his own. Three more times he browbeat me into giving him my temp paychecks, leaving me with bounced checks and creditors calling. When he wasn’t sleeping in my bed and using my old car, he would call me from his family’s business in southern Colorado—in the middle of the night, collect. Despite the incredible sex, repeatedly I told him I never wanted to see him again. But he continued to show up at my door, in the middle of the night, drunk. Intimidated, I would just let him in. He threatened to burn my house down if I didn’t write his book, to take a baseball bat to my dog. His eyes steady, he leaned into me and whispered, “If you try to back out of this … I’ll be your worst nightmare.” He smacked his fist in front of my face and I shrank back. I felt myself drifting, going numb, my emotions floating gray and flat, my thoughts slipping away, in a fog.
But I had a strong weapon: I was deeply and profoundly connected with my inner spiritual being. I aligned daily for strength and resolve, and visualized severing the psychic cord between us. I fought back through meditation and the support of countless friends. I became increasingly more feisty, often in a murderous rage, and shouting matches escalated. Despite the fragile situation, I could not keep silent.
Repeatedly I told him I did not want to write his damn book, but he insisted. Then he whispered, “I am the serial killer. I killed those women.” By then I knew it could not be true. He was too careless not to have been caught. He slid further into his alcohol-induced madness, but I gained strength day by day. I drew upon all of the powers of Spirit I had come to know, and it is this that saved my life.
Finally, after I hadn’t seen him for a year and I had moved, he found me and wanted to see me, repentant. On the phone I said yes, to appease him. But when I hung up, I shrieked and pulled in all the forces of Spirit around me. I did not go to meet him. I had my life back. In that moment, the Divine Presence filled me and I knew—Joseph Estanopolous would never call again.