In the fall of 2003, I got dressed up in a long black and burgundy strapless dress, had my hair done and went off to homecoming with my now husband. We were invited to a party after the dance, at a friend’s house who I rarely hung out with anymore, but for some reason, this is where we went. I only wish we hadn’t.
For years, the only thing I could remember about this night was the picture we took together before we left and small pieces of the following morning. I dismissed this as me likely having had too much to drink, as was quite common for me at that time in my life. When this memory started to rear it’s ugly head, I went to my husband with questions because I just couldn’t remember anything about even being there.
To my surprise, this was a really sore subject for my husband but I hadn’t the slightest idea why. I was fraught with worry, amidst some really disturbing flashbacks, wondering what in the world happened that night. What did I do? And what was done to me? Were questions I replayed in my head over and over.
I explained to my husband that I truly didn’t remember anything that took place, only asking my friend the next morning where he was, and her saying he left quite early the night before. I remember feeling concerned when she said that, contemplating why he might’ve gone while leaving me behind. At the time when I asked him, he really didn’t give me a reason and I just kind of forgot about it and moved on.
Fast forward 18 years later, and he finally opened up about what transpired. My drinking that night was so out of hand, I had been running around the party with a fifth of Bacardi Limon, drinking straight out of the bottle. As he started recalling the events of the night, I could hear the pain in his voice and began dreading what he would say next, as I could only imagine what I might’ve done to hurt him.
While this wasn’t the first time I had been flirtatious with other guys in front of him, I was apparently pretty out of control that night, to the point where he decided to leave, and who could blame him? Hearing how I behaved and how it hurt him was so upsetting that I started to not really care about what may have happened to me after he left, but rather that I deserved it. While that isn’t true, I felt such humiliation, shame, and regret for the person I used to be and choices I made. While I’m thankful he stuck it out with me in those early years, and we both know I’m now a completely different person, there isn’t any way for me to go back and change the hurt I caused.
Processing through this was difficult for us both, but I knew it was truly a good, healthy thing that he was no longer carrying that hurt around but made me aware of it. Unfortunately, after he left that night of the dance, I either continued to drink to the point of unconsciousness or something was slipped in my drink.
Flashbacks too graphic and degrading to write about publicly intruded me every night for a week straight. Three boys I had been going to school with for years didn’t let the opportunity of me being knocked out cold pass them by, but rather took pleasure in all sorts of evil. I could see myself being drug around outside with a black pillowcase over my head, as they took turns raping me in the darkness of the night. Now I understood why I’d been having dreams about waking up in that house, and taking a baseball bat to one of the boys’ truck, filled with so much anger I’d be shaking as I woke.
This was a longer one to process, as not only did I have to go through the normal emotions that accompany the memories such as fear, anger, disgust, and shame; I had in the added layer of hurting my husband, and knowing that I was always safe, protected, and loved while with him, but how I took that for granted, made terrible choices, and payed dearly for them.
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” 1 Timothy 1:15