Eighteen years ago, I got a DUI. It is something that I never talk about, because it is something to be ashamed of. I have buried it down deep inside of me and think of it rarely. But lately, as I have been trying to piece together my story, I've been thinking about it. And I thought I would share it here.
It wasn't my fault of course.
Towards the end of my university degree, my then boyfriend and I went to one of his colleagues 40th birthday party. This guy and his wife, whilst they were older than us, were quite good friends of ours. I was 30 years old at the time.
Anyway, over the course of the night, I drank more than half a bottle of bourbon on my own. At the end of the night, my boyfriend and I did the right thing and got a cab home. Unfortunately, on our return home I realised that I had left my handbag, along with the house keys, back at the party. Thankfully the taxi was still there so we got back in and went back and got my handbag.
So we got home and inside, and understandably, my boyfriend was really pissed off with me. He was pretty drunk too. The next thing I know, I'm being pushed into the wall and I hit my head on the corner of the wall and it starts bleeding. (I will point out here that this is not the first time that he had been rough with me)
I started to panic and was too scared to be in the house with him, so what did I do? I got in my car, and I drove to the police station!!
I don't really know what I was thinking. The only thing I think I was thinking, was that once before when my bf had been abusive, I had done the same thing. That time, the police had driven me home and been really sympathetic. They had spoken to my bf and given him a warning. So I think I thought the same thing would happen again. Clearly, my thinking was all over the place.
Anyway, I managed to get there in one piece and not harm anyone else along the way (which to this day I am so thankful for. I hate to think how I could have hurt myself or someone else).
I didn't get a lot of sympathy this time. It was a few years after the first incident so I'm guessing that the policeman on duty had no idea of my previous visit. Anyway, they wanted me to charge my boyfriend, but I got scared. I was too scared of what he would do to me if I did, so I refused to do it. They told me that if I didn't charge him, they would have no choice but to charge me with drunk driving.
By now I was panicking. I couldn't lose my license! I had clinical placements coming up for my uni course and had no way of getting there if I didn't have my license!
I thought of one of my uni friends. Her husband was a policemen, and whilst he didn't work in this town, he would know a lot of the police there. So I rang her (it was the early hours of the morning by this stage) and she kindly came in a couple of hours later. And even though her husband did know some of the people who worked at this particular police station, it didn't make an ounce of difference.
I was going to lose my license.
My friend drove me home. It was so nice of her to drive the 30 minutes from her town to help me, and I was so embarrassed. But I was angry too that the police didn't let me off. How dare they charge me?!
I crept inside and went to sleep in the spare bed. I told my boyfriend later in the day and I was so pissed off with him because it was all his fault. I can't remember what he said but I do know that he wasn't very sympathetic and I don't think I got an apology for the abuse. I think he just thought he was pissed and he shoved me, no big deal.
In the end, I was able to drive for a month before the 12 month loss of license kicked in, so I was able to drive to my placements at one of the local hospitals. Then after that, I would ride my bike to uni and wherever I needed to go. I told my employer that my car had broken down so couldn't drive to work, so a colleague who lived near me would pick me up and take me to and from work. It never occurred to me to drive without a license (I know a lot of people do this).
I had to pay a fine, and lost my license for 12 months. I never told my mum. I drove up to mums a few days after and my brother came with me. I had a bruise above my eye which I covered up with makeup. I think I told my brother but it's something we never talk about, so I can't really remember!! I know I told my older brother because he drove my car a few time for me when he was visiting.
I used to be so resentful of my bf. I used to blame him for it. If he hadn't been violent and pushed me, it would never have happened. Which may be true, but I have learnt over the last few years to look at it properly and to own my part in it. Yeah, he pushed me, but I shouldn't have driven drunk. I could have hurt someone.
So that's my shameful story. You can see why it's something that I never talk about. But it is a part of my story. And it's an important one.
Do you want to know why? Because it changed my life. For the better.
When I finished uni, I had to do a graduate nursing year. We had to pick 4 hospitals and go through the interview process. So I chose 3 country hospital and one the big city, 3 and a half hours away. With public transport being non-existent in the country, I told my boyfriend I would have to go the hospital in the city. There wasn't much he could say as I didn't have a licence and wouldn't be able to get to work if I chose one of the hospitals in the counry.
So I moved to Melbourne, and would visit him when I had a few days off in a row. Towards the end of my 12 months there, I had to go to drink driving school and then go to court to get my license back. For another 12 months (or was it 3 years? I can't remember!!) I had to have zero alcohol in my blood when I drove.
And at the end of my graduate year, I told my bf that I would not be moving back to the country with him. I was going to stay in Melbourne, and we broke up.
So you see, it was the best thing that could have happened to me in a way. If I hadn't lost my license, I would have stayed in the country and would probably still be with him. God knows what my life would be like now.
I still ended up with a drinking problem. But at least I got married and had my beautiful son.
And now I can really start to know myself. Find out who I am. I am on a journey of self discovery and it's the most important journey of all.