Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fault

TRIGGER WARNING.

Here's another one of those posts I wasn't sure I'd ever write - but yesterday I found this on Jezebel, and it hit me pretty hard.

Last May, in New York City, someone put Rohypnol in my drink. I don't know if anyone saw him do it, but I know no one told me anything.

It was the worst night of my life.

Josh and Navy Band Northeast were there for his third Fleet Week. I'd missed the first two, and he always came back with stories of free Broadway shows (!), great food, a ball game or two, and amazing jazz clubs. I wanted in! So I took a train down for the weekend and a kind band member let us have his hotel room for a couple nights - no roommate. What a treat.

Then one night Josh had to work, but a friend of mine and I went out for drinks. She used to live in New York and she knew her way around, so I was psyched. We went to a place in some square or other in Manhattan and were having a great time, drinking Scotch and soda and chatting with the sailors who had come in from the ships. We were wearing our wedding rings, dressed casually in loose clothes, talking about our husbands mostly. And yet.

I had too much to drink. My friend was a smoker, and I decided to join her for a cigarette, which I know now is a sign that I should stop drinking, head for home and have a big bottle of water on the way. I didn't know that then. I started to carry my drink outside and the bouncer said no, you can't bring that out here, we'll get in trouble: leave it inside on that table.

and I said: but someone could slip something into it.

and he said: don't worry about it.

So I didn't.

A little later when my friend was getting a manicure (it's a weird bar) I lost it. I felt...strange. Drunk, but worse than that, out of my mind - I just wandered off into the city. Without my stuff - my purse was around my body, but I left two bags inside and just wandered away.

It is so humiliating to tell this story. Truly it is: it's like standing here naked, in front of everybody, and pointing to the parts of myself I hate the most. My biggest embarrassment, my worst nightmare, all my insecurities on display. But I have to tell this, I just have to: this happened to me, which means it could happen to anybody, which means it IS happening to somebody right now, but it FUCKING HURTS TO TELL THIS STORY.

I passed out on the sidewalk. I don't remember where I was, or how I got anywhere, or even passing out. I just remember the outlines of two faces, a man and a woman, waking me up and helping me into a cab. I guess they must have dialed the emergency number in my cell phone, which was Josh, thank God. He's a heavy sleeper but the phone woke him, thank God. I didn't know where to go, and I was scared, and sobbing, and I didn't know my name or his name, I just knew the feeling I get when I'm with him and I knew that if I could get to that voice on the other end of the phone I would be safe again.

Josh kept shouting the address of the hotel: 38th and 6th! 38th and 6th! and finally it got through to me. By this point I was throwing up in the cab, and the cabbie could have left me on the side of the road, but he got me to 38th and 6th and then stole my wallet. (We found out later that he took the cash, bless him, and threw the wallet with all my cards and info on the street in front of the hotel. Someone found it and returned it.)

I fell out of the cab and was covered in vomit, still throwing up violently all over the street and the walls around me and Josh and all my clothes and shoes. Josh carried me into the elevator and into our room, and took my clothes off and washed them in the tub. I passed out on the bed, and I don't remember any of this since the phone in the cab by the way, and when I woke up I was still vomiting all over everything. He had to call his superior from the band, an angel of a man who took care of both of us that night.

I do remember one thing: I couldn't stop apologizing. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry baby. I was so scared and so I don't know, guilty? I guess? that I'd allowed this to happen to myself. I apologized as I was naked in the bed in front of my husband's coworkers, I apologized down the elevator and into his boss's car on the way to the hospital, and over and over as Josh sat by my bed, not sleeping all night, while I was sedated with anti-nausea medication for a few precious hours. I kept apologizing after he (and our friend, and the boss who had driven us to the hospital and slept in his Jeep outside until I was released) had to go to work at 7am on national TV with no sleep. And all the train ride home to Rhode Island.

And do you want to know the truth? I'm still sorry. I still feel like it was my fault. I know it was my fault for being so stupid, leaving my drink and going back to it, maybe even for going out drinking with a friend who is a woman in a big city. She, by the way, noticed I was gone shortly after I left and started a frantic search for me - and she never let the sailor and the bouncer (who we suspected) out of her sight.

I hope some day I'll forgive myself for what that man did. I try to dwell on how lucky I was that it was "just" the drug, the guilt, the fear, and the humiliation, that I wasn't raped or mugged or beaten or murdered. For now, here's what I suggest for the rest of us:

1. NEVER PUT YOUR DRINK DOWN AND GO BACK TO IT. Not on a date (get a new drink or don't go to the bathroom), in a bar, in a club, at a goddamn wedding unless someone you KNOW and TRUST who is SOBER is holding it for you. Even then maybe not.

2. WATCH OTHER PEOPLE AND THEIR DRINKS. Jesus Christ, if someone had seen? and helped me? Jesus.

3. IF YOU SEE SOMEONE MESSING WITH A DRINK:
First, yell: "DID YOU JUST PUT SOMETHING IN THAT DRINK?" Embarrass yourself. Embarrass him. Second, take the drink and hand it to the bartender or spill it, if you must. And third, find the woman whose drink it was and take her aside, or out of the place if possible. You could be saving her life.

4. ALL BARTENDERS NEED A POLICY. This is crucial. My proposal, if a staff member or customer sees someone spiking a drink:
a. take the drink away and save it. Tell the suspected guy (it's always a guy) that the bottle of wine was corked, or you put the wrong liquor in the cocktail, or whatever.
b. send a female staff member to tell the woman - if she's at the table, tell her they think she left something in the bathroom but it's kind of embarrassing.
c. CALL 911.

When this happened to me, the hospital staff were terrible. They refused to call the police, to test me for drugs, or anything. They kept us in the emergency room surrounded by screaming, stinking, homeless patients with bloody head wounds, and a woman who looked like she was dying of cancer in the next bed. A nurse threatened to commit suicide - a nurse on duty, not a patient. I never saw a doctor. I never filed a police report. I didn't sleep for weeks, not really, and I'll never feel safe in a big city at night ever again. I'll never go back to New York.

But really? Until this happened to me? I don't know what I would have done if I'd seen someone dropping a pill or a powder into a cocktail.

I know now.

5 comments:

Otenth Paderborn said...

Thanks for posting this Emily. What a fucking awful thing to go through.

And it is not your fault.

Kenneth

Melanie said...

Emily, you are so strong for posting this because it can happen to anyone, you know that. You are amazing. I can't wait to see you.

Bethanyivy said...

Oh my goodness! THank you so much for posting. I know it must have been so hard to write, but until now, The idea of this actually happening wasn't real. Knowing that it actually happens is heartbreaking, and it opens my eyes to how careful I and all other women should be. Writing this could save many of your blog readers from the same awful experience.

Bethanyivy said...

You have nothing to feel guilty for. Just be grateful for having such a sweet, loving hubby who was there to take care of you, and other compassionate band members who were so willing to be there for you too.

cSquared said...

You're my hero buddy! You are so strong for posting your story. I wish I had been there that night. It's not your fault because some a##hole tried to take advantage of you by spiking your drink.