I am trying to write about a time I woke up not knowing where I was. I have sat here for 10 mixtures trying to find the words opening words but they wont come. I tried making it poetic but it felt wrong. There’s nothing poetic about waking up on a table, soaking wet, covered in mud with your bottom half-naked. (Trigger Warning – sexual assault)
Where I grew up there is a huge show ground. It hosts an annual agricultural show and then various smaller gatherings through the year; a dog show, a Bible Week, a Christmas Fayre – that kind of thing. It brings a lot of tourism to a small Welsh town, a lot of strangers. The main high street is almost always closed off for the duration of whatever event is on. There are about 14 pubs in the town, 7 of them being on said high street. You can walk the length of the high street in less than 5 minutes. Drinking is what people did. You grow up in this town and pub culture is all you have unless you escaped. It was actually brilliant fun growing up there once you got to pub age (14/15/16 back when I was kid!) I was working behind the bar at 16 and by 18 my friends and I were considered ‘locals’ in our favourite pub.
Whenever our town hosted once of this big events, the locals would also use it as an excuse to party with the visitors. Over the 4 days of the Royal Welsh Show – our biggest annual event – approx 200,000 travel through the town. The town in itself has an approx population of 2,500. Many people take the week off work. Going out on the town over Show Week could be the highlight of some people’s year.
In 2007 I was in the midst of a heavy tramadol addiction. This had begun the year before, not long after Sonny’s diagnosis. I used to buy them off a local girl who got them on prescription. Soon enough, what she could provide me with wasn’t cutting it. I needed more so I bought them online too. Over 10 months I had gone from taking a couple of pills in the evening with a bottle of wine to 45 a day.
I swear to god I was taking up to 45 pills a day by the summer of ’07. I have no idea how I am alive! How nobody knew! I was vomiting all day. Sometimes spontaneously, just catching it in my hands because I couldn’t make it to the sink in time. I was chronically constipated. I wont go into too much detail but there were days were I would be stuck on the toilet for hours and had to resort to manual evacuation. It was disgusting. These are the parts of addiction that you blank out. I was a dead woman walking. My marriage was all but over. I barely remember any of 2007. The only things that stick out are the story I’m going to tell you now and a family holiday that we took and that’s because my ex-husband and I split whilst we were in Spain. (Pretty hard to forget that..)
One the last night of the show I planned to go out. My husband had been out the night before so it was my turn. I think I may have gone out with some friends of mine but I can’t be sure. I had got into the habit of ditching my friends as soon as I was a bit drunk. I had always done this to a certain extent. I was famous for pulling the Irish Goodbye. I used to get anxiety about saying goodbye to people. I didn’t want to explain myself. I often wanted to leave my friends and go to a different pub and talk to the bar-flys. I have no idea why this appealed to me more than hanging out with people who I knew and loved. It just did. I felt comfortable sat with alcoholic strangers. Disappearing half way through the night became my modus operandi. My friends just got used to it. We lived in such a small place, no-one was ever in danger. Everyone lived within walking distance of the high street.
So this night I either went out with some friends and ghosted them during the night or I went out alone. I have vague recollection of taking some valium which was the other drug I abused at the time. Harder to get hold of but every couple of months I could scam some out of my doctor. I was on a cocktail of strong painkillers, benzos and booze and probably felt invincible. The only thing I remember is being in a car park where they held a big disco. I remember a man kissing me and looking over and seeing one of my friends. I will never forget the look on her face. I don’t know who the man was but I don’t doubt that I was flirting with him. I used to crave attention from men and even though I had no intention of cheating on my husband, I know I would have enjoyed the attention I was getting. All I recall is pushing him away. I may have told him I was being watched. Or that I’d meet him later. All I remember thinking was that my husband was going to find out that I’d been kissing a strange man in the middle of town. That I was going to be in trouble. I knew that I should go home. I could try to explain it to him before the gossip mill started. I hadn’t meant to kiss anyone. Maybe I could just lay my cards on the table and hope he wasn’t too pissed off with me?
The rest of this is difficult to write. I’m not sure I’ve ever told Rob about this so it may be the first time he reads it. I feel repulsed and shrouded in shame but I want to get it out. There are too many terrible times in my experience as an addict that I have pushed down and tried to forget. I need to remind myself that the good times, the fun times do not outlay the bad.
The next thing I knew was that I was shivering so hard I woke myself up. I was freezing cold and soaking wet. I could barely open my eyes, my head felt like it had rocks in it. I was experienced in waking up with hangovers so it didn’t hit me straight away that I wasn’t in my own bed. I wasn’t in a bed at all. I was on a table. I was naked from the waist down. I was covered in mud. Like COVERED in wet mud and I was alone.
In that moment I was the most frightened I’d ever been in my life. I had no idea where I was or what had happened to me. Thankfully I could see my trousers and handbag on the floor. My shoes were missing. I was so shocked at my own predicament. I found my phone and saw a ton of missed calls from my husband and burst into tears. All I could think was that I was going to be in so much trouble with him.
I put my drenched jeans on and tried to calm myself. I was in some kind of cabin. I looked outside and realised I was on a deserted part the show ground, so not far from home. I had no memory of how I ended up here. I was starting to have a panic attack. I couldn’t just walk home. I looked like I’d been dipped in a mud bath. My hair was plastered to my head with the stuff plus I could only find one shoe. I knew I was going to have to phone my husband to come and pick me up. I don’t remember making the phone call or what was said. I just remember being sat at the side of the road and seeing him pull up with all of our children in the car. He’d brought towels so I must have told him I was dirty.
I think I tried to joke that mummy had been partying and fallen in the mud. I might have made the kids laugh. Poor Jim.
I don’t remember if we ever discussed what happened that morning. I don’t know what happened so I couldn’t explain myself. I know how it looked. All worried about at the time was how sorry I was towards my family. I felt terrible that I’d behaved so recklessly and added insult to injury by forcing my husband and children to come and collect me the morning after.
I didn’t let myself think about the true ramifications of that night for years.
I only have one blurred image of what happened that night and to be perfectly honest, I don’t know if its real or if I’ve invented it in the subsequent years. The only thing I think I can recall is that there was more than one man in that cabin.
I do not know what happened to me that night. I think it’s safe assume that something did but I will never know the details. At the time I just brushed it off. I felt so ashamed that to my husband, it must have looked like I was out partying all night, got so messed up that I crashed out in a muddy field. I felt sick that he had to schlep the kids into the car to pick mummy up from the side of the road. I couldn’t have been more sorry.
I now wonder what he really thought? What did I tell him? Was he disgusted by me? Was he worried about the state he found me in?
I think we both just buried our heads in the sand and tried to forget it.
I’d like to say that that was a one-off but I can’t. I have another story, almost idential in premise but more damnning in evidence of something bad happening.
Handprint bruises on my thighs. Glass stuck in my feet. Torn clothes.
I’m not looking for pity. I know that any other female alcohol and drug addicts reading this will undoubtedly have the same stories to tell. Recalling this event and writing it out has not been distressing. It’s not something that I struggle with on a day to day basis. It’s fine. I mean, it’s not fine but I’m not looking for a wave of support or advice. I have written it out for the first time because it’s important for me to admit, confess, acknowledge my past.
So that was heavy! I’m going to go for a run now.x