Oh, what a night

8 Oct

11:27 pm

I have been thinking on and off all day about whether I should write about this night again–the Sunday before Columbus Day, 2009.  I mean, I think about it every single day because my arm hurts every single day, doing yoga or working out, or fully extending it; it is shorter than the other one, as a result of the way it healed beneath the shoulder cap, which literally took weeks to unfreeze after I stopped wearing the sling!  I wrote about it years ago on this blog, when I was, I guess, processing how traumatic it was years after it happened.

The thing is, I feel like I must recap, and commemorate, if I’ve been thinking all day about it.  And, I will write about it because, well, it’s amazing how things have changed, and I’m grateful that I didn’t let it define me.  Yes, I think about it, and it does haunt me; but not in a way that I still feel like a victim, or was somehow unable to move on emotionally.

In brief, I got shitfaced that night, got into a verbal fight with the dude I had just slept with–or attempted to mess around with; I will never know because most of the night is lost to the blackout–we physically fought somewhere outside his apartment, on a sidewalk; he pushed me hard, and I fell down and broke my arm.  I was in one of my blackouts, which happened almost every night I drank by that point; but this was one of those severe ones, black hole-type memory blanks where not just hours are missing, but the entire night is gone.  (If you’ve never blacked out, let me say:  if you have any memories of that period of time, they’re like shards of glass on the floor, each one reflecting a glimmer of light for a moment before it turns dark again.)

It was right about now, getting on toward midnight (on a Sunday; granted, I had Columbus Day off the following day, but YIKES to me routinely starting my nights at midnight, weekend night or not), and I went out to–let’s face it–hook up with this guy whom I really despised but could pretend was someone else while I was uber-drunk.

Isn’t that what we do?  That is exactly what I did.  I mean, MOST times I got into bed with someone I had been flirting with all night, fueled and numbed by wine or beer, it was not because I wanted him, or her; it was because they filled the role of the fantasy I had created while drunk.  I’ve written about this before, but really, when I drank, and flirted (during the years when I was drinking to excess to escape and numb), I drank and flirted with my own mind, with what I was creating or had created in my mind that night.  It was all delusion, made even more delusional by the booze.

Anyway, what I think happened was this:  we drank; and after drinking, which I don’t remember the details of, we were somewhere outside his apartment, in some shack, or cottage, or garage-type building, and he was telling me that we had to go out there because his daughter (who was like, in her 20s) was inside, staying over that night.  The last thing I remember was him putting a blanket down, and me feeling like, WTF, what am I, a dog?  Of course (of course!), this man was super-gross, and he treated me grossly every other time we hooked up; but, that was what I was willing to accept because I had my needs, too.

Yes, I had my needs.  I needed to flirt and feel wanted–even if it was in a delusional state; at least he wanted me, right, is what I must have told my drunk self?  (Nine years ago, I was in no way “unfuckable” or “unloveable,” but at that time in my life, I think I sort of believed that was true.  I was also terrified of relating to men as my sober self, for fear of rejection, or the effort it would take to be myself, to be a partner when all I wanted was to drink, really.)  I needed to get shitfaced to be able to pretend that he was someone else, maybe an ex that I hadn’t really yet gotten over.  I needed the release from always listening to the voice in my head that said, You shouldn’t do it, You shouldn’t be like that.  I needed to get drunk, physically and psychologically.  Devolving into some other horrible version of myself was the price I was willing to pay.  Until…it wasn’t.

Until, the booze wore off enough for me to come to, for the writer and professional and good Midwestern farm girl to come back online and be like, WTF, what am I, a dog?

I remember fighting, screaming, being belligerent at him; I remember walking on the sidewalk–it was cold outside–storming off somewhere, maybe?  I don’t know if he was following me or I was chasing him, but…I remember him pushing me down in the cold night, falling and bouncing off the cement on my right shoulder, realizing with some momentary lucidity that something “really bad” had probably just happened.  He said that I attacked him, and maybe that is true.  He fought back, and hard; that is also true.  After all was said and done, he didn’t really care what had happened to me.

It was like a dream sequence, and I wasn’t sure if it was real.  I remember nothing from that point until I woke up at about 1 pm in his bed–and the pain.  OMG, the pain.  Not to mention the pain and anxiety of being hungover/still drunk, after a night like that; and then having to stumble out of bed, put my clothes on with one arm, and wander to not just one, but TWO emergency rooms in the city,  both being full, before giving up, getting into a cab, and going home to sleep it off so that I could actually think straight to figure out my plan as to what the EFF I was going to do about this shit now.

Long story short, I had help from my friends and roommates–the select few people I ever told what really happened–and the arm eventually healed.  I have to say, that night was probably the most traumatic of my drinking life, but it wasn’t by far the worst thing that happened to me.  It’s been the hardest to let go of, for some reason.

I gave my consent, but all the reasons behind it were convoluted and very personal–and, influenced by alcohol-induced delusion.  I gave my consent, but it was SO not what I wanted.  So, did I deserve what I got?  Sigh.  Most of the time, I say, yes and no.  I don’t believe anyone deserves to be in accidentally disastrous situations–I don’t remember picking a fight with him, he didn’t really mean to literally throw me down onto the sidewalk.  I also don’t think most people CHOOSE to try to understand what happens to people when some of us drink.  They will never know, which is why any and all of this is so hard to talk about, to explain, to reveal.  But, he didn’t force me to do anything.

I think this relates to Me, Too, but I am never sure how to talk about nights when you choose to drink and choose to flirt but then…find yourself in a situation that does not feel right, that you don’t want to let happen.  It’s so hard to talk about it without someone feeling either blamed or unheard.

I would not say that I was raped that night.  There are other nights where what happened was much closer to rape, but…there was ALWAYS alcohol involved, and always an element of consent on my part.  I was never ambushed at night, or assaulted at a party; I always played a role in getting myself into these types of situations.  I can say, though, that I didn’t hold onto these events the way some people do; and maybe that speaks to the difference between “some consent” and “no consent”?  I don’t know.

SO, today?  Today, I spent the day cleaning the apartment, walking my dog, and lifting weights  at the gym.  I have started doing more of that, and I love how it makes me feel:  strong inside and out.  I think it makes me feel a bit like, look at me now, Loser Who Pushed Me Down.  I will NEVER let anyone push me down again!

Seriously, my life nine years later has so moved on, and for that and so much more, I am  grateful.  I can’t forget that night, but I am glad to be able to feel continuous relief and gratitude that not only will that never happen again, but that I survived AND thrived in the years since–I didn’t let it get me down, or make me believe that that girl was forever me; that I was broken, that I couldn’t change.  Fact is, I rocked on, and I changed.  People can change.

On that note, off to bed because another full week.  Just super-glad, still, to be here, and not there.


9 Responses to “Oh, what a night”

  1. Finding a Sober Miracle October 8, 2018 at 6:55 am #

    I’m glad you could release your story safely here in the blogosphere. After watching some of the news about Christine Blasey Ford, I couldn’t help but wander into the same mental territory you have. As it turns out, Christine went to college where I did, and during the same time I was there. I can completely understand the culture that she talked about, where If a woman was drunk, there was no real question about consent. I also remember the gallons of PJ, with pure grain alcohol added, served to freshman. There was non-stop drinking in those days. I sincerely hope that things have changed by now. With more people telling their stories, at least it opens up the conversation.

    Thank you for so honestly telling your story. 💕

  2. annastk76 October 8, 2018 at 7:30 am #

    Very relatable! I think back on some situations (and men!!) I found myself in when I was drinking and it makes me shudder. Ways I allowed myself to be treated, ways in which I allowed myself to be (ab)used. It’s terrifying. I also know precisely what you mean about those shards of glass…. Thank you for sharing. It’s a hard read and that’s why it’s invaluable because this is the reality. x

  3. JoJo October 8, 2018 at 5:36 pm #

    My stomach was twitching as I read this. So familiar!
    I’m 11 months sober and much older than you I’m sure. But…did the same stuff in the 80’s. I was so lost. It took me so long to get some sobriety, I did 60 days in rehab and found myself. It’s been a beautiful journey thus far.
    Thanks for sharing.
    I have a forever injured knee from falling in a hotel room bathroom that I checked into with someone I shouldn’t have been there with. I didn’t know how to say no, but I do now.

  4. Just Some Woman October 8, 2018 at 7:10 pm #

    No broken bones here…but plenty of “ass whuppings”!! I let it go on for about a year. He was usually drunk, I usually flirted with other men, hence, the beatings. I thought it was normal since a couple of my friends were getting it too. Maybe it was because these drunks/drug addicts “wanted” us? These men certainly “loved” us, didn’t they? That’s why they were so jealous. Besides, they were really nice when they were sober.

    It defined me for many years after I got away from him. I was a kid of 17, brainless, easily coerced, drunk. My next boyfriend of 5 years and my husband of 32 years paid the price. I would let NO MAN abuse me in any way, shape, or form. When drunk, I’ve hit them both just to make sure they knew their place.

    I made my peace with my walking nightmare 30+ years later as he lay in his casket, dead from a drunken motorcycle accident . I told him I forgave him and that I was sorry for the part I played in the whole fiasco. I actually felt sorry for him because I got sober and he never did.
    He certainly wasn’t the only drunk “hook up”. And yes, I put myself squarely in these situations. I’ve felt the self-hatred, the rationalizing, the shame. But I’m over it. Yes, it changed me from a quiet, shy, little girl to a temperamental, mean, looking for a fight, crazy woman for years…but I’ve pushed on through it. Without alcohol, a LOT of bad things wouldn’t have happened to us but they did. Luckily, we have the luxury of making the decision to stay far away from what poisons us. You’ve come a long way, DDG!

  5. Daniel Alberts October 9, 2018 at 12:10 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this post. Drinking has led me to some scary places as well and ones I am not proud of. I am sorry that you had to endure this situation and that you must carry the memory with you. Unfortunately, there is no undoing the past, no righting the wrongs, but each of these experiences has made you stronger today. Congratulations on your sobriety.

  6. Ainsobriety October 9, 2018 at 4:44 pm #

    Hug. I can relate.Yes. Here is so much better…
    Love to you

  7. Jillian Olinger October 10, 2018 at 7:49 pm #

    “Here, not there”– I always love those moments when that feeling of gratitude comes rushing over!

  8. Dana October 15, 2018 at 4:36 pm #

    Again, another wonderful post. I identify with this whole-heartedly. I was never a black out drunk, but I definitely got myself in crazy situations while intoxicated (one I’ve been thinking about, on a loop, since the start of the Me, Too movement). Sometimes I think, “Was I conditioned to think, via male-dominated society, that this wasn’t abuse”, and other times I think, “Am I being conditioned to think this is abuse because of Me, Too?” I’m not sure where my choices end, or where they begin. Thanks again for putting vulnerability aside and telling your story/stories.

  9. Rachel Smith October 30, 2018 at 2:12 pm #

    Thank you SO much for sharing your story. I am grateful and lucky I was never seriously injured in my drinking days…plenty of bruises from falls and bumping into mystery objects, but never anything like that. I just wanted to say, you are heard. And thanks.

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