November of 2008, Thanksgiving day rolled around, which also happened to be my 18th birthday. No party. No special plans. No company even. My friends were away with family for the holiday. Dinner at my house wasn’t anything too special. I finished my plate of the typical, traditional food, and locked myself in my bedroom for the night.
I was sad that I had no one to hang out with on my 18th birthday. So this is what it’s like to become an adult? I turned on some music and pulled the bottle of Sour Apple Vodka out from under my bed, along with Mountain Dew for the chaser. Time to celebrate my 18th birthday… all alone.
A couple of hours go by and my blood alcohol content is elevated. To my surprise, this guy I knew texted me. I used to have a crush on him in high school, but I soon realized that he was just using me. I still liked to hang out once in a while anyway. He was spending the night at his grandma’s house a couple of blocks down the road. He invited me over for a bit. I had to agree since it was my only chance to hang out with someone other than myself on my birthday.
I poured some of the Sour Apple Vodka into a water bottle and mixed it with some chaser to take with me. I just wanted to keep up on my buzz since I was trying to drown my loneliness. I walk over and he lets me in through the gate as usual. I remember the chill air as we sat outside on the little porch smoking and talking.
After a while, I decided it was time to head home. I made it to the halfway point, thinking I was fine, but I had apparently I had way too much to drink. I was stumbling on the road when someone approached me from the bar. He seemed very concerned and told me I should sit down for a while until I feel better. So I did. I sat outside the bar, up against the stone wall.
There was a guy standing near and he bent down to offer me a glass of water. We talked for a bit then he convinced me to go on a walk. I didn’t think anything of it because I walk around with people all the time so how could this be any different?
We walked off talking about random crap, nothing significant. Everything was fuzzy from the alcohol. This was far more than a buzz. I didn’t feel threatened. I didn’t sense danger. The next thing I know, he grabs me and pulls me off to the side of the business building next door to the bar. We were back by some dumpsters in a little fenced area. He held me down and took advantage of me. It happened so fast and then it was over in a moment.
I was far too wasted to do anything. I couldn’t even scream… couldn’t push him off of me… couldn’t resist… I just couldn’t fight it at all. I was limp, weak, not to mention severely impaired, which is most obvious considering my lack of judgment and evaluation of strangers.
I couldn’t believe how fast it all happened and then he was just gone. He took off and left me there in the dirt. I struggled to pull my jeans back up. I felt dizzy and it was hard to get myself back to standing, but managed. I walked back to the bar. Everyone was gathering outside in groups talking, smoking, and laughing away as the night was ending. I couldn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. I felt as worthless as the dirt he left me.
It was past midnight. My 18th birthday was over and I couldn’t have felt any lonelier, or any more pathetic. I just sat back down against the stone wall until they closed down and made everyone go. The bartenders were kicking everyone off the property and I just sat there watching everyone disburse. I was invisible to the world and they looked like they had a blast. It felt like I was trapped in a bad dream.
I snapped out of it when I heard one of the bartenders say, “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here! ”
For days and weeks I couldn’t help but think about that night… what happened… why me… and why on my birthday…?
I could question it all I want, but I always knew the answer. It was because I was drunk, I was alone, and it was dark. Not a very safe combination of factors for a young girl, which made me especially vulnerable that night. I questioned the event for years and years after. It always brings me back to the same conclusion.
Had I been sober, I could have fought him off.
Had I been sober, I would have seen it coming.
Had I been sober… had I been sober…
Had only I just been sober!
That’s it thought… I wasn’t sober. It was an unfortunate event, but it is over now and this little snapshot in life can make its home in the back of my mind, with the rest, where it will fade, yet never be forgotten. I use this memory to remind myself of how being an adult doesn't make the world any less dangerous than it ever was before. I also use it to remind myself of how quick things can go the wrong way if I don’t pay close attention. I’ll never see that guy again and I am sure he has long forgotten who I was. We were strangers, and nothing more.