A young teenage girl likes an older boy. He is drunk when they go to the movies together. He forces his hand down her pants and makes her bleed. She barely makes it out of the movie theatre because she is in so much pain. He doesn’t understand why she doesn’t want to talk. He says, “Sorry, I was drunk.” Does that make her pain go away? Does that bring back her innocence? Does that make it acceptable?
A sixteen-year-old girl does a favor for her boyfriend by letting his friend sober up at her house before driving. He rapes her. He apologizes to his friend saying, “Dude, sorry I was so drunk.” Her boyfriend breaks up with her because now she has had sex with his friend, but not him. How did this become her fault? She stays quiet because she doesn’t want people to think she’s a slut. She doesn’t think anyone will believe her anyway. She has heard it said before, “He was in her room, what did she expect?”
A young college student is pledging a fraternity and is going through hazing. The student dies and it could have been stopped if someone called 9-1-1. They were underage drinking so the fear of getting in trouble stops them in their tracks. “I’m sorry I didn’t call the police. I couldn’t think straight because I was drinking.” Now a family and friends have to mourn.
A young professional woman is at a cocktail party for work. The Vice President of one of the biggest manufacturers in the industry starts talking to her about her future and she is excited. He introduces her to other owners and executives. Later, the men discuss in front of her how sexy she is and how she can have her choice of any man there. One pulls her in and says, “Why don’t you come up to my room and we will talk about how big I can make you?” She finds away to get out of there. The next day, “I’m sorry I was drunk last night. I hope I didn’t say or do anything to offend you.” Two months later at the next event, imagine the surprise to the young woman when he does it again, but is even more aggressive. No man is sticking up for her and telling him to back off. Everyone including her is scared about how it will affect them professionally. Some people laugh it off and say he is so drunk. Some people talk about her and how she is dressed. The party hook up is just apart of the culture.
A young woman is dating a man who hits her during a fight while they are both drunk. The next day, “I’m so sorry, I was drunk. It will never happen again.” He doesn’t drink for a few months. She stays telling everyone how he has been so amazing and he really learned his lesson. “He would never do it to me again.” A few months later, she shows up with bruises. She is too embarrassed and somehow has found a way to blame herself for what happened.
A woman lives with a man and he comes bursting into the shower in a fit of rage. He is screaming at her and pulls the shower curtain down. She sinks down into the shower as she sobs uncontrollably trying to figure out what she did wrong. The next morning, “Sorry, I was drunk.” He cries and weeps begging for forgiveness. She is on eggshells and waiting for the next shoe to drop. Can she really trust that this won’t happen again?
Friends gather at house for a couples get together. One of the women get so intoxicated that she hits on one of her friend’s husbands. She pulls him in close and puts her tongue in his ear. He gets away quickly. She has no memory of what happened, but her friends tell her. She is embarrassed and apologizes, “I’m sorry I was so drunk.” How can her husband trust her next time she goes out drinking? What would happen if the next guy actually wanted her? Was she going to cheat on him? Can her friends trust her not to do this to their husbands?
A married woman calls the police because her husband calls her saying that he is going to kill himself and she will never see him again. When he finally comes home he parks the car down the road because he sees the police cars in the driveway. When the police talk to him he starts screaming profanities at her and tells the officers that she is the crazy one. The police take him to a place to sleep it off. The next day, “I’m so sorry, honey. I was drunk. Please, don’t leave me. I will kill myself if you leave me.”
A mother falls down drunk with her young child in her arms. She breaks her child’s arm, but is too drunk to take the kid to the hospital. She doesn’t call an ambulance. Overnight the child starts getting sick and throwing up. The next morning, she calls her mom and tells her what’s going on with her child. “Why didn’t you take her to the hospital?” “I couldn’t drive because I was drunk. I didn’t think it was that bad. I didn’t know she was that hurt.”
A husband and wife are drinking and they start fighting in front of their children. They see mommy punching daddy while daddy is holding her off and calling her names. The next day, “I’m sorry, Mommy and Daddy had a little too much to drink and things got a little carried away. I’m sorry you guys had to see it.” This excuse doesn’t take away what they saw. Hearing sorry doesn’t make it ok. Those children just learned that drinking is an excuse for very bad behavior. This information can manifest a few alternative futures. One, they starting counting drinks when people are drinking in front of them as a defense mechanism to figure out when the space is no longer safe. They learn to hate all alcohol and judge everyone who drinks it. They learn to love alcohol and use it as an excuse for their poor choices. They learn to expect people to forgive them because it happened while they were drunk. They end up in the same kind of toxic relationship and the cycle continues. The lucky ones realize it early and realize this is not healthy.
These scenarios go on and on. If alcohol is used as an excuse, there is a much bigger problem. Quitting drinking doesn’t solve the problem, but it will be a huge tool in not covering up what the problem really is. It takes a lot of work un-programming hurtful patterns we are taught by circumstances, families, and society. Drinking is not an acceptable excuse. We can’t teach our children that it is acceptable to not have control over their own actions. We can’t let the next generation of women believe that being disrespected and assaulted is ok under any circumstance. If a person is really sorry, they will work to change. They won’t do it for the person they hurt. They will do it for themselves because they don’t want to be the person they have become. If a person tries to do it for another person’s approval it won’t stick. The willpower has to run so deep that for them, they can’t imagine another way than fix what got them there in the first place.
As an empowered person, we don’t have to accept the excuse either. This includes not letting it be our excuse. Our job is to figure out what we need to do to protect and take care of ourselves and our energy from unacceptable behavior. We live in the age of technology. We can always use it to our advantage. Self-care is what matters. Take the time to do the research. There are so many tools and places that can help. I am a recovering people pleaser. I often slip and start thinking about what other people will think if I… (fill-in the blank). I will tell you from my experience, taking care of myself is NEVER the wrong choice. People will think what they want to think. That is none of my business. My business is to take care of the person that I’m with from the cradle to the grave. I need to live a life that I’m proud of. For me, that is being an example for my children and others of love and respect. I want them to get a positive perspective on how to treat friends, family, the opposite sex, co-workers, people who violate other people’s space, and people who disrespect them and/or other people around them. This means I need to make decisions for myself that will help project these values.
This doesn’t mean we can’t forgive. Forgiveness is not about the other person. Forgiveness lessens the burden on our own hearts. When we carry around the level of hurt these scenarios can bring up, we suffer. If we helped perpetuate this excuse, we need to forgive ourselves, then do something to change it. That is what I’m doing now. Does this mean I’m going to be perfect? No! I have accepted the excuse, I have used drinking as an excuse for myself and others at different times in my life. Today, I’m aware of the pain it has caused and how it effects society as a whole. I’m contributing to what I want to see in the world now, instead of perpetuating what has been acceptable for far too long.
As for forgiving another person’s behavior does not mean accepting it, re-exposing ourselves to the person, or any further contact if that is not what feels right. Simply, forgiveness is finding a way not to carry the pain and using the lesson to make us better people. Next time, we may stand up for that stranger we see this happening to. We say something when we see things happening in front of us. We stop laughing it off when people do something to stand up for themselves. We protect the children who are the innocent by-standers. When we can get past our own pain, we are open to help others in the most constructive and loving ways possible. This is no easy task. The first step is having awareness that the pain is there. Then finding constructive and productive ways to persevere through it.
With Love and Gratitude,
Rachael Wolff ©2017