I previously posted on my old blog about my arrest last year and now, I would like to share with you how that led to my engagement. First, the story of my arrest.
On an ordinary day in February 2016, I made last-minute plans to meet up with a couple of friends. The plan was to just go out and have a single glass of wine with them. I was exhausted, but they were going to be at my favorite bar on the coast. They live out of town, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I put on some jeans and killer heels and headed out for just a bit.
When I got to the bar, we had that single drink and I was having so much fun that I ordered one more. They were suddenly ready to go home and here I was two drinks in. I spotted my favorite bartender and decided I would go catch up with him while I finished my drink. Into a conversation with the people beside me, I didn’t quite notice that he refilled my glass.
Three drinks turned into four and some drunk guy buying shots for everyone. I met a few new people, including a nice 4th grade teacher from Hattiesburg. We friended each other on Facebook, as drunk women do the first time they meet each other.
Then, realizing it was incredibly late and the bar was closing, it was time to go home. Having only taken a cab once in my life, it didn’t even occur to me to do so. I got in my car and I drove home. I remember the drive and I remember feeling like I was just fine. I just had to pee. Really badly. A few miles from home, I stopped at gas station to run into the bathroom. I was in there a little while. There was no TP and I was dripping dry. When I emerged from the bathroom, there were two cops waiting for me. They walked me to the car, asking if I drove here. I proudly told them I had. After a conversation about where I had been, had I been drinking, and where I was headed, I was placed under arrest for Public Drunkenness. Wait, what? I was shocked. I didn’t cry. I was confused and still trying to sober up.
When I was placed into the back of the police car, I began a conversation with my arresting officer. We talked about my kids, my job, and how my husband was going to kill me. I told him a few times that he was doing a good job and I thanked him for being kind and gentle. I was anxious, but the enormity of what had just happened had not hit me. I was taken downtown and sat waiting while some paperwork was done. Then, I was placed back in the police car and we took off. We were nearly to my house at one point and a wave of relief washed over me. OH! He’s taking me home, I thought. Then we turned right and the anxiety returned. It wasn’t until we pulled into the county jail that I completely lost my shit. I bawled. I begged him to take him home. I can’t go to jail. I have four kids, I told him. Calling Dustin with my one phone call was one of the worst moments of my life.
I took a hideous mugshot and was put into a cell with an angry woman. The woman had stabbed her boyfriend, who was also in jail down the hall. After awhile, I was taken into a room to be strip-searched by and I was put into a huge tent of an orange jumpsuit and some rubber flip-flops. Humiliated and overwhelmed, I cried during this process and apologized for the crying. The woman supervising me shushed me. I cried harder. Back in my cell, we were offered bologna sandwiches and water. I passed. We were encouraged to sleep. I refused. Then my eyes wouldn’t stay open and I had to pee (but also refused to use the metal toilet in my cell), so decided to try to sleep to pass the time. I curled up on the cold metal bench and cried. And cried. And cried some more. After being told that I would be let go at 9 am, I dozed off a few times, but kept waking up to check the time.
At some point, a CO passed by the cell and did a double take. You’re too pretty for jail, he said sincerely. Yes. That stuck with me. I hear him say that in my mind a lot of days. The thing is, it wasn’t a shallow comment. What he meant was, You’re too good for this. You are smart, educated, employed, and a mom. You don’t belong here. This life is not for you.
Around 9:30, I collected my personal belongings, changed my clothes, and emerged from the jail and just stood there. I powered on my phone and saw that the battery was almost dead. I quickly texted Dustin and a couple of other friends, trying to find someone to pick me up. Nobody was available. I needed to call a cab, but knew I didn’t have any funds with me. Dustin said he would meet the cab driver at the curb with his credit card, so I called for a cab and waited. Walking into the house, the kids were happy to see me and wanted to know where I had been. I took a breath, hesitated…. Then told the truth. I told them that Mama had been in jail because she drank more than she should have. Nick was shocked that it was an offense worthy of arrest.
At my hearing, I went before a judge who was absolutely furious that I was not charged with a DUI. He ordered for the arresting officer to be investigated. I felt awful about that, considering how kind he had been to me. The judge asked me to stop down and speak to the prosecutor, because his first instinct was to put me in jail on the spot. The prosecutor asked a few questions about my life and my history. I answered him that YES, I could absolutely pass a drug test on the spot and that NO I had never been in any trouble. He recommended to the judge that I be placed on probation for 6 months. The judge accepted the recommendation and my official sentence was “Guilty fines and fees; 30 days suspended for 6 months of reporting non-adjudicated probation.” Simply put, I had to pay fines and could go to jail for 30 days if I violated my probation of 6 months, but if I followed all the terms, the charge would be expunged from my record.
I have been on probation the last six months and it has been a time of high anxiety. I have been scared to death of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and having to go back to jail. I made it, though. I am free and my record is clean again.
I am so thankful for the friends and family who have supported me and stood by me through something so humiliating and humbling. It has changed my social life forever. And you know what? In my wild and free single days, I wouldn’t be surprised, but never thought this would happen as a married mother of four in my mid-30s. Let this be a reminder to you all – life can change in an instant and we are all fortunate each day to wake up and be given a day of freedom to do whatever we choose. Make the right choices. Get a DD, have cab fare on hand, make a plan and stick with it. You’re too pretty for jail, all of you. The outcome could have been so much worse and I am thankful it wasn’t. This experience has also served as a reminder to me that nobody is perfect. I wondered several times over the last few months, if I am hiding this from people, what are others hiding? What have people done that we don’t know about? It doesn’t matter. Each person is the owner of his or her own story. This is mine. If you want to judge me without telling all the secrets of your own life, that’s your choice. I just hope you’ll all take to heart that life goes on and we can put one foot in front of the other and get through it all one day at a time.
*If you’re new in my life, Dustin is my ex-husband and Nick is my oldest son.
The thing is, I am not extremely religious but what I am is a believer that something in the universe connects us and guides us. I will always believe that my arrest served many purposes. The best thing that came out of such a stressful time is my relationship with Stuart. I’m sure you’re wondering how the two could possibly be connected. In order for me to explain it, I’ll have to give you the backstory…
Sometime in 2004, I was dating someone new, “C,” and began going to play trivia with him and his friends at Buffalo Wild Wings. One of the players in our group was a coworker of my boyfriend’s roommate, “D.” This coworker was intelligent, witty, good-looking…. and completely annoyed by me, it seemed. On the nights that I ended up seated beside him, I felt a weird tension. I couldn’t tell if it was because he was really annoyed by me or thought I was dumb…. it just felt weird. One night, I wrote this in my journal…
Yeah, that “coworker?” His name was Stuart. Things didn’t work out with C and me and I never saw Stuart again. Once I was active on Facebook, one of us friended the other. We kept up with each other on a surface level. He would comment any time I cut my hair (expressing his disappointment) and would sometimes compliment a new profile picture. What ended up being about once a year, he would message me in response to a “vaguebooking” post in which it was evident that I was unhappy about something. He was always just checking in on me and I appreciated that about our friendship, but the conversation was never more than a few sentences.
On February 21, 2016, the day I got home from jail, I posted a Facebook status in true vaguebooking style, thanking my friends for standing by me in rough times. Stuart quickly messaged me with a simple, “Is everything okay?” I wrote him such a long response that it filled up the screen of my iPhone 6. And then? Everything changed. I didn’t just fill him in on my arrest, I was filling him in on everything in my life. All the wrong, all the right, all my feelings and emotions and anxieties. You would think his response would be along the lines of, “Oh okay. Sorry to hear that. Let me know if you need anything.” Of course, he said those things, but he never stopped messaging me. Our friendship has been strong since that day I inexplicably let it all out to a friend I hadn’t seen in years.
The result was a quickly-moving relationship that was clearly right. We just knew.
Next week, I’ll be sharing my engagement story. 🙂