We had a banter, one that was flirtatious in its own right, but nothing that I ever intended to take forward. I made this clear many times. My best friend once told me that Mitch* and I are similar in the sense that we both always go after what we want no matter what other people think. “It’s not a selfish thing, it’s a brave thing,” he tried to tell me when I got offended. I sat back in my seat when he said this, not wanting to fight. This was over a year and a half after the night that changed me, and the last thing I wanted to be was compared to Mitch. But he was right. I hoped I at least had a better character than him. Some nights I wasn’t so sure.
It started with tequila. Lots of tequila. My best friend, Brad*, and Mitch and myself were at Mitch’s apartment and we were going to a bar in walking distance. Mitch dealt the cards and the two of them made sure I took plenty of tequila shots. They were drinking beer.
“You two are totally going to fuck,” Brad said, a hint of sadness that only I could see was in his eyes. He loved me. I was sure of this. But he was my best friend and it wasn’t something I could ruin.
We played for a couple hours and then walked to the bar. It was a short walk and the tequila in my blood made me smile as we walked, even though it was a cold December night.
I’d been back in Raleigh for almost five months now and I still didn’t know what the hell I was doing with myself. I had failed a marriage I had worked so hard at keeping and I’d been holding myself together with a “handle with care” sign practically stuck on my forehead. I hadn’t cried since I’d left my ex. I wouldn’t let myself. I didn’t want him to win, I didn’t want him to have any part of me– even my sadness.
Tequila is the devil, and makes you do devilish things. Being sad and having low self esteem doesn’t help. I take full responsibility for being an asshole at the bar. I shouldn’t have done it… but I did. Just to prove to myself that I could, I kissed Mitch. Then, I walked over to Stewart* another one of their friends who had made clear his feelings for me, and I kissed him too.
Then, because I am the biggest asshole, or at least I was, I kissed Brad too. “Don’t,” he said to me as I did, but let me put my lips against him, hesitant at first but letting me. I could see the pain in his face as I pulled away, a piece of his heart breaking.
Mitch put his arm around me, the smell of IPA on his breath. He said something to me, but I didn’t hear. I smiled anyway.
I remember him directing me away from Brad’s table but things go blank after that. The amount of tequila and then beer that was consumed was too much for my small body to handle — at that time, I was at my lowest weight since I’d gotten pregnant.
I don’t remember the walk home. I don’t remember getting back to the house. I don’t remember what he did to me…. with me.
But I remember the soreness between my legs when the blackness retreated. I remember the cold sheets around me, the taste of stale beer on my breath.
I remember the dizziness as I sat up, my hair sticking to the nape of my neck, hot with sweat. I remember the smell of latex.
I remember stumbling down the stairs, still way too drunk to be walking. I remember seeing Mitch, snuggled on the couch with a girl he’d been fucking for weeks. A nineteen year old. He was my age, twenty four. I remember looking at my phone and realizing it couldn’t have been more than an hour or two since we left the bar.
I remember storming to the door, putting together all the pieces. I remember the feeling of cold hitting my face. I remember his words, “Are you okay to drive?” The first time he pretended to be concerned with my well being the entire night.
I remember telling him, “No,” and then slamming the door closed. I remember pausing, my hands on my knees, gagging. I remember he didn’t even bother to follow, knowing I wasn’t okay.
My hands shook as I put the key in the ignition. The radio blasted and I turned the sound to zero. I called Stewart, knowing he cared about me at least, and asked him where he was. Him and Brad had gone back to Brad’s house. He told me to come, knowing something had happened.
I could barely see through my tears. It all came crashing into me — the feeling of being used, the loss of my husband, the failings as a wife and mother.
I drove down 440, desperate not to have a cop follow me. There was no doubt I was above the legal limit. I was drunk and hysterical and surprised I made it all the way to Brad’s. Stewart was sitting on the curb waiting for me when I got there. I parked the car and ran into his embrace. I couldn’t talk, the sobs rocking my body uncontrollably. I didn’t know how to stop. He tilted my face up to his, a look of concern clear on his face, and then, he kissed me.
I pushed him back a little. “I’m freaking out and you’re kissing me?” I asked, annoyed. I didn’t want to make out, I needed a friend. I needed real concern.
“Shh. Come here, it’s okay. Let’s go inside.”
I followed Stewart up the stairs into an upstairs bedroom. We sat on the bed and he did it again. He pulled me in to try and make out with me – snot and all.
I finally pushed him again and told him I needed to find Brad. I didn’t look back as I ran out of the room.
I went to the basement and stood in the doorway. “I know you hate me right now. But I can’t… (sob)… I can’t…. (sob)… do this. (sob) I need you to be my friend right now.”
He looked upset but nodded and we both sat down on his bed. I pulled him to me, practically digging my fingernails into him as I did, so desperate for his comfort.
“I think… (sob) I mean, I know, (sob), that Mitch and I slept together tonight.” The sobbing continued and I didn’t let him say anything although I could see how much those words hurt him. “But I don’t remember (sob) any of it. I woke up (sob) and he had called his fuck buddy (sob) over and then I came here and (sob) Stewart tried to make out with me (sob) and I just don’t know what I’m doing Brad. I don’t. I’m so sorry. I am such a mess. (sob) I never wanted to hurt you. I’m a terrible person…”
And then it all tumbled out of me, every insecurity about my failed marriage, every feeling of not being good enough for anyone. He held me for a long time, as if he knew all my broken pieces would scatter across his bedroom floor if he didn’t.
He didn’t try to kiss me. He didn’t take advantage of me. He just held me, at the moment I felt weakest.
I never got an apology. I texted Mitch the next day telling him how fucked up what he did to me was. He admitted it was, but he never apologized. I didn’t see him for a couple weeks. When I saw him again, he acted like everything was normal, so I did too.
I still see him from time to time since we have mutual friends. It’s like being sucker punched every time.
If you can’t say no… is it still rape? It’s a question that has haunted me forever since. It’s the night that changed me. I still wonder if it was my fault. Maybe it was karma. Maybe I shouldn’t have flirted. But should I really have to worry about every guy I flirt with wanting to take me to bed with them when I’m blacked out? Is our society really that sleazy?
He took something from me that night. Something I will never be able to get back. Even Brad to this day tells me that I wanted to sleep with him- he could tell. He doesn’t know why I’m so upset about it.
Am I crazy? Is this really okay?