I made this in order to grapple with my inability to speak about and, thus, come to terms with certain things that have happened in the past. Making this with the intention of sharing it was particularly difficult, and I wondered for a long time whether or not I would share it even with friends. But, I’ve come to realize that my voice and experiences can be powerful. They already are. They inspire my art and creativity; my experiences and my voice have taught me courage, strength, and, above all, self-acceptance.
In my last spring break, I disappeared for a night. While I suspect that this was the second time I’ve been roofied, I’ll probably never know for sure. After waking up in a strange place and returning home, I saw the damage that I believe I had caused--the tears and panic in my mom’s eyes, my boyfriend sitting in the driveway crying as he waited for me to come home. I don’t know what happened that night. While I was confused as to how I could completely lose my bearings from one moment to the next, for a while I decided to stick to the narrative I thought was in other people’s minds.
I didn’t know how to control myself. I blacked out, and probably put myself in a dangerous situation. I hurt my family. I hurt my friends. And, to top it off, I don’t even know what happened to me.
Regardless of whether or not I was roofied, this mentality was not okay. It destroyed me for some time--I refused to go out or to drink alcohol while not at home, afraid that I would be unable to control myself and topple over the edge, afraid that I would just cause pain (pain that I felt I didn’t even deserve; I mean, it was on me). As time went on, people continued to assure me that whatever happened that night should not have happened and that it wasn’t my fault. “People should have been looking out for you.” “Whoever you ended up with should have taken you home.”
I simultaneously felt like a moving target, like someone who people consistently relished taking advantage of, whether that be with a drug in a drink or a whistle out a car or a manipulative interaction or a hand down my shorts, etc., etc., etc.
While this happened just last year, my friends’ support have given me the strength to speak about it and to come to terms with the fact that I’m not always in control of what happens to me. They’ve helped me realize that the onus should not have been on me to make the situation better (in this case, it was on those strangers who pushed me along through the night when I was clearly incapacitated). And most importantly, my friends and family have consistently been with me as I step outside my comfort zone once again. They have told me that I am not a moving target and that a series of unfortunate events should not define how I see myself in relation to the world.
Importantly, I don’t want this to be about me. I want it to be about anyone who has grappled with these feelings, anyone who has fully lost control but continues to blame themselves for the events that follow, anyone who has been taken advantage of, anyone who feels they are not safe. I understand, and you are not alone. However, when you’re ready, you’ll be surprised how much your friends, family, or community might lift you up once you open your voice to them. If it seems impossible (or, in your situation, is impossible) to open up, know that there is nothing wrong with seeking professional guidance. They are the community members whose job it is to lift you up, and I hope, with all my heart, that each and every one of you is able to navigate your experiences (however you choose to do so) knowing that you are not alone.