I confess...many of you have heard this story before. But I've been feeling compelled to add it to my blog. They say things you post online are there for ever so I guess I want it recorded. It is a story that could have had such a bad ending. It is a story that still scares me, no matter how much time passes and no matter how much I share it. It is a story I want to share because I want people to know it is real.
It was the second New Year's that I spent with X...12/31/2003 (I am never confident in labeling the holiday with a year...it's NYE 2003 but it became 2004). We went to a fancy hotel party...the kind with an open bars, several different rooms with music, fancy clothes, and fresh Krispy Kreme doughnuts at 1AM). We'd had dinner before, nothing fancy but plenty to prep for a party, and I had a few bites off the snack buffet too. I recall getting in line for a drink, it would only be my third glass of red wine...three glasses is generally enough to relax me but not enough to really make me drunk, just a little happy. The line wasn't too long but I recall the guy behind me commenting on the fact that a guy near the wall seemed to be staring at my butt. He offered to angle himself to "protect" me from the gaze. I kinda laughed since the guy he accused of ogling was X. We chatted very briefly, I got my drink and went off to join X.
I don't know how much time passed, I don't think it was long. I remember feeling really upset all the sudden. I'm told I demanded X go find us champagne for a toast as midnight was approaching. He says he protested he might miss the moment with me but I was adamant. I do know he didn't make it back for the stroke of midnight and I know I looked mad since I remember a guy (not sure if it was the one from the line) trying to say something to make me feel better.
It's hazy beyond that (well, during that too). I got more and more upset. I do remember a girl stopping me in a hallway and telling me it would okay but I should go to my room and lie down (many people had rooms there...we didn't and planned a cab ride to X's after). She said we all had night "like that" and that I should go lie down and things would be better in the morning. I'm not sure when, but X eventually started to sense it was more than me being dramatic. I think we sat outside a bit...I have a memory flash of slumping over on a curb. We got a cab and I am told I passed out the moment we got seated. The next flash of memory is of me standing in the bathroom at X's apartment...I wanted my earrings out but was baffled by how to make that happen. That's all I have from that night. The next day, I was very very sick. I don't know that I'd even finished that third glass of wine...
I'd never put my drink down. I'd never let anyone touch it. But I have no doubt that I was drugged. I suspect it was the guy in line by the bar. I don't remember anything specific but it wouldn't have taken long for him to pass a hand over my glass and drop something in. I didn't make any obvious mistakes. It is only because I was with someone I could trust that the story isn't much much worse. X was angry and confused at first when I was acting off (totally understandable) but ultimately he made sure I got home and safely to bed (umm, to be 100% clear, he put me to bed to sleep...). He brought me water the next morning and even came back to my place (unplanned, we both had work the next day) the next night to make sure I was really okay.
I have tried to find the lesson here. The best one I can get is to have people looking out for you and to look out for each other. Look out for others too...if you have a concern that a woman is not functioning and may be at risk, tell someone to see if you can have help (as a woman, I'd be nervous intervening on my own, I think a bartender would be a good option to help). When I first shared this story, I said you should always have someone you trust nearby. I'm older and my life has evolved. That doesn't seem like it is always going to be possible...I go for a drink on my own these days. I don't take extra risks (I don't leave an unfinished drink if I go to the ladies room). When I'm alone, I do chat with the bartender...partly because I like to, partly because I know they are another set of eyes. I stay alert and aware, not only of my surroundings but also of my body...I hope I can catch the warning moments.
I wish there was some magic answer. I'm struggling with how to close this post (and I'm coming back to add this in partly because I don't feel satisfied after doing so...the following are the only words I'm finding....). The solution is NOT cowering in fear and never having another beverage in public. I got on a plane in October 2001 because I felt and still feel that "they" win if I don't keep living. I will be smart. I will make good choices....not "perfect" choices because there is no such thing...but I will do my best. I will fight the bad guys by being one of the good guys. I haven't had to face the moment when I've seen someone whom I think is in a danger zone, but I hope I'd find a way to intervene. I will keep sharing my story to make others aware...not to make them scared but to remind them that these stories aren't just quick items on the evening news. As corny as it sounds, knowledge is power...awareness is power...it isn't perfect, but it's what we've got.