My mind has been wandering and wondering. I am looking back to what was and to what could be. My fingers are typing what my mind is thinking at this moment. Call it madness, call it melancholy, call it what you will.
There was an issue that came up while preparing for the middle portion of my memoir. I felt truly blessed when a writing colleague and friend was gracious enough to assist me with a little research. The article that was found hit me like a baseball bat. The impact stunned me and I wasn’t prepared for the emotional tsunami that took the breath right out of me when I wasn’t looking.
I felt like I had been clotheslined by a five hundred pound linebacker that took me out of the game for a while. I withdrew like a turtle and went on lockdown. I stopped writing. I avoided it like the plague. I needed time to unwind a forest of tangled vines in my mind.
Then it dawned on me that I never dealt with it – quite frankly it blew me away. When I looked back at how things unfolded after this drawn-out event was over I saw where I simply brushed it aside, stuffed it down, pushed past it and moved on to try and put my life back together with some semblance of order and purpose.
The mental, emotional and the physical repercussions from that series of events has come full circle. I have been dealing with some very old wounds. Wounds that I never truly looked at or ever dealt with.
The impact of that series of events affected the flow of my Life both inwardly and outwardly. That unrequitable nightmare became embedded in my physical body,(As a massage therapist I know muscles hold memories)and was imprinted in the energy matrix or light of my soul.
The seeds sown during those 13 months had laid dormant inside me quietly taking root in the dark and have now come into season to be reviewed. Unresolved issues have a way of popping up when we least expect them to and when they unwittingly crop up it has a way of throwing us off course. My internal navigation system went haywire and I spiraled down into the depths of despair.
Negative thoughts can truly pollute the physical body on so many levels. When the issues associated with this long-term event rose up it exploded into my conscious and the ride thereafter turned me inside out unexpectedly. The emotions that were stuffed into the suitcase of dormancy were also retrieved from the lost and found area of the baggage claim department. It was extreme. My physical body reacted.
Recurring thought patterns came up for review. I had a choice to renew and refile the thought as it was, or review more it more deeply. When I dug deeper it was difficult to unmask hidden truths. Once ‘I got it’ then I had the option to refine, redefined and refile those thoughts in a totally different archive.
The difficulty I experience is when my conscious mind becomes flooded by the emotional tsunami that overwhelms whatever sense or sensibilities I have. My ability to reason begins to wane, and at times simply disappears. The term ‘brain fog’ doesn’t even come close to describe it.
My ability to think literally escapes me and unfortunately, a part of me goes with it! I walk around mindlessly as if a part of me has left to find answers and bring back some clarity. Its been a struggle to make sense of it all. The mental hula hoops I have to jump through becomes a regular 5-ring circus.
The emotional impact has been daunting – but fruitful. The physical repercussions will be coming to light in a couple of weeks. Listing the lessons learned and finding the words to portray the events is now the challenge.
Do not let unresolved issues continue to take you down that dark corridor. Pull them out, face them, learn from them and heal them in your mind. When you do that, you heal yourself.
Today is the day of reckoning for my friend in her fight to keep full custody of her child. My husband dropped me off at my her house this morning. When I knocked on the door she reminded me of a squirrel chasing another squirrel up and down a tree. Except the squirrel she was chasing was invisible.
She was bouncing around from room to room, shuffling paperwork, printing off last minute copies, looking for photographs of injuries inflicted on her child and other items associated with her case – and she wasn’t dressed yet. She was geared up and going nowhere fast. She was driving us to the courthouse in downtown traffic in this state of mind. It made me pause, and that became the cause for me to pray for her, the drive and the day. I stopped her long enough to give her a hug. She was scared to death of loosing her only child to her abuser.
It’s 9:00 o’clock a.m. when we were actually walking into the court room. A few others came to give her the moral support she needed and to be a witness on her behalf. She was frantic, carrying a cardboard box of paperwork while her opponents dressed accordingly toting their own in stylish crates on wheels.
We did the best we could, in the short window of time that we had, to pull together as much information as we could, so she could defend her right to retain custody of her abused child. To do so, she would have to stand up and state her case, then prove the ‘abuse’ really existed.
The Plaintiff, (her abuser) and his attorney sit at a table to her right. On her left are two other attorneys, each representing a State agency that had a variety of interactions with the Defendant. My friend, has been relegated to sitting in very the center of the room, directly in front of the judge. I felt an overwhelming sense of the imbalance of things.
Over the years, this woman had no choice but to send her child or leave him with his abuser. A court order took the choice right out of her hands. She even went to jail for 30 days and was slammed with a year of probation by withholding her son from his abuser.
My friend had sought out help from the resources available within the system in her region, and she was referred to other programs in the process. A Guardian Ad Litem had been appointed to her son by a previous court order, and an attorney with that agency was present in court today.
My friend fulfilled her obligations of attending all court ordered programs including co-parenting classes with her abuser and jumped through all the hoops they required.
Today, it looked as if they were all taking a definitive stance against her. Both agencies appeared to be contact with her abuser’s attorney from the glances, smirks and verbal exchanges within the courtroom. All the people involved in this case over the span of years have given their opinions. Some have assessed, evaluated and judged their position on the custody of this child. Judgments that may have been colored by their personal interactions with my friend along the way.
There is a great deal of research available to show us what few know, acknowledge or even talk about when it comes to “the abuse of power in the system” on the people who are up to their neck and treading water in it.
“Mediation of child custody disputes is mandated in several states. Investigators have averred that victims of domestic violence (DV) are greatly disadvantaged in mediation. The present study empirically evaluated outcomes and found that mediators failed to recognize and report DV in 56.9% of the DV cases. The court’s screening form failed to indicate DV in at least 14.7% of the violent cases. Mediation resulted in poor outcomes for DV victims in terms of protections, such as supervised visitation and protected child exchanges. Mediator capacity to focus on the child’s best interest was called into question. Child custody mediation should not be mandated in cases of DV.” Child custody mediation in cases of domestic violence: Empirical evidence of a failure to protect. Violence Against Women,11(8), 1022–1053. doi:10.1177=1077801205278043 –
We all know that interactions from some women facing the system and those within the system is traumatic in and of itself. My friend has been diagnosed with PTSD was being cornered by not one attorney, but a total of three attorneys. She is overwhelming stressed and is “shaking” as she speaks after 10 years of having to encounter her abuser by court order and having no choice than to leave her child with her known abuser.
The thought of her abuser having full custodial rights and being the primary caretaker of her son, after 10 years of fighting for her sanity and her son, was almost too much for her to bear. These attorneys “knew” exactly what they were doing by placing her in the middle of the room between them and directly in front of the judge. They knew she would not be able to communicate efficiently.
My friend waved me up front to sit with her at the table, not only for support but a sense that she wasn’t standing alone. All three attorney’s approached the judge and I was removed from sitting with her “because I was not an attorney.” She was visibly stricken and started shaking a bit more, knowing she would have to be up there on her own. The process was slow. The Plaintiff’s’ attorney, an attorney for DSS and the court designated attorney that was appointed as Guardian Ad Litem for her son, all took their time to state their case.
Meanwhile, the subtle interactions between all three attorney’s across the aisle did not go unnoticed by those of us in the gallery, nor did the judge miss a thing. It was not only unprofessional from all of them, including their witnesses, it was childish. The fact that the judge didn’t miss a thing made me smile.
When my friend got to question the witnesses for the State and the Plaintiff, she did her best. She was clearly not an attorney. The judge knew this. She was confused and unfocused, but she held herself up and didn’t break down. Her questions led nowhere and in fact there were many times she forgot to ask a question at all. The blessing was that the judge was patient and tolerant (to the dismay of the State and the Plaintiff’s attorney). He saw her condition and he saw the smirks and chuckles of the “professionals” who were attempting to break her down fly across the tables in front of him.
It wasn’t until well after a late lunch break that my friend was able to “state her case.” Her defining moment was when she held up her timeline with backup copies of the original planners to submit it into evidence and spoke up loud and proud – “This is MY VOICE!” “This document IS My Voice your honor!” This is a historical account of the abuse over the past 10 years that both I and my son have endured.
All three attorneys “objected” it as evidence. All three, especially the Plaintiff’s attorney voicing it as being “highly objected” as evidence. My friend’s questioning of her abuser already revealed her client’s arrest records which unseated her considerably and undermined the case that he was a “good man.” The document in question provided additional proof, and was complete with doctor’s names, hospital records and even a handwritten letter from her deceased mother that my friend found after her mother passed a few months ago. In addition, she had a recorded statement from her deceased mother in the Social-Emotional Evaluation of her son by one of the State agencies.
I truly feel her mother was present at her side during this last phase of this hearing session. She had very little time to pull it all together. The judge “accepted” her documents into evidence despite ALL of their objections. I bowed my head in gratitude for that defining moment.
The hearing lasted right up till 6:00 p.m. last Tuesday. The Plaintiff’s attorney thought she had the case nailed, as did the other two attorneys for the State. She pushed “twice” for a ruling at the close, and requested that the child be removed immediately and placed into the father’s care. She also had the audacity to request surveillance on my friend citing her “mental state” and the potential that she would flee the State. Really???
The judge shook his head at her callousness and denied her a ruling on the spot, stating that he would have to look at “ALL” of the evidence presented and that he would “email” his ruling to her, the other attorneys present and to the mother “when he was done.” You would think an attorney would not have a temper tantrum like a two year old. It was quite funny watching her twist her lip and make faces as if no one was looking. I swear she stomped one foot in the process. I believe the Plaintiff’s attorney was beside herself. In fact, all three of them were all stunned.
At the writing of this post, there has still been no word of the judges ruling. It looks like we will have to wait a little longer.
This is not a picture of my friend, but I really do feel that it portrays the sorrow, suffering and only a smidgeon of the frustration and futility that she has experienced through this harrowing journey. She is facing a court hearing that will determine full custodial rights of her child to either her or her known abuser. She has NO attorney to help her continue the fight for herself or for her child.
So we went to work. In reviewing my friends personal planner/journal of chronological events of abuse turned out to be a historical calendar of her 10-year history of physical, mental, emotional and financial abuse. Her court documents were records of information that would not have been available to us without them.
Her personal planner/journal would indeed be “Her Voice.” So together we diligently went through it all. Month by month we scraped out the information and compiled an Excel spreadsheet that detailed the sequence of events, encounters, communication difficulties, and accounts of every level of abuse that had befallen herself and her son.
The process became a stunning revelation of her story and for herself. She had no idea that her diligence, her fervor and her “pen” would become her greatest ally. Everything she was fighting for, every interaction and every step she had taken to get help from various State agencies was listed in her planner.
We learned that the father of her child had previously been arrested for “Assault by Pointing a Gun, and Assault on a Female” in 2007. We learned later that there had been up to 6 other charges filed against this man prior to that. We also learned that his brother was currently incarcerated for abuse as well. So there is a pattern of abuse that seems to run in the family. The man was going through a divorce when he met my friend, and it appears women were not at the top of his list of favorite people when he learned his girlfriend was pregnant.
The verbal, emotional and mental abuse was already underway in their relationship. Eight months and 3 days from the date that these charge were filed against him in 2007, this same man abused his pregnant girlfriend for the first time by grabbing her by the throat while forcefully holding her down on a bed choking off her airway as she is struggling to get him off the top of her and breathe. She was six months pregnant. He also repeated this display of power, control, threat of bodily harm in his rage on two other occasions. She was scared. She had never been abused and didn’t know what to do except fight back.
In 2010, a file was duly recorded and documented under a 311 call about her abuser “communicating threats.” Her child was diagnosed with a broken collar bone, while under the care of the abuser, had another fall out of a swing landing on his head three months later, along with another head injury to the boy one month thereafter.
He also mysteriously fell off the wheel well of this father’s truck, while in his father’s care. The fall scratched his belly and punctured his side when he landed on a triangular with a piece of metal. These accounts did not include the physical, emotional, mental and financial abuses to his girlfriend and mother of his child.
We also unveiled a written and recorded statement from my friend’s deceased mother. The 2011 statement had been recorded by an agency worker who conducted a Social-Emotional Evaluation on her son at the age of 2 years and 3 months old. That statement expounded a grandmother’s rage, live and on tape, stating boldly that “she will not tolerate any more physical abuse to her daughter or to her grandson by the her abuser.”
In addition, we uncovered a family pattern of abuse by the boy’s father toward his other children. A pattern that is already being seated in her own child. In addition her son has come home with accusations of sexual abuse by various members of his father’s family.
We had all of these incidents documented over a period of 10 years and yet the Department of Social Services and other State agencies involved to date state that the allegations of abuse were investigated and they deduced that all of the allegations of abuse were false” even with doctor’s records that were readily available.
Now, all we needed to do was to get the judge on Tuesday to agree to allow this timeline of historical abuse into evidence.
The abuse of power comes to the forefront in the next post…Read on in Part V.
I am a Living Tree of Life planted in this Garden of Eden, and like a great many trees that used to be in this world, I have been splintered, cut down, marred, scarred and beaten to a pulp for the unwise choices some human beings illicit on others of my kind.
The rings on my tree are cracked with scars and yet I have survived to lay down a pattern of rings to mark my passage of time in this world. I have stood alone in my silence, witnessing the world around me. Contemplating the mindless reactive abuses that others illicit on the innocent.
In the beginning, my Life’s journey was built upon stony ground, yet I managed to grow, blossom and eventually flower by driving my roots deep, and building a resilience to the onslaught of wrath imposed upon me without reason. I wasn’t alone on most occasions, but I stood up with a sense of righteous indignation and held myself with a much deeper sense of dignity that came from an eternal well.
The rings on my tree are nearing the end of its life’s span, and like many trees we have a story to share. I believe it was Wayne Dyer who once said, “Don’t let your story die inside you before you leave this world.” His words seemed to be a provident statement of what I have known must be done for some time now; and to him I am eternally grateful to have heard the call come back around loud and clear.
In sharing my story, I hope that it will touch at least one soul; and in touching that one soul I can only pray that the seed planted in their heart will assist them to seek a higher calling on behalf of humanity. I have seen the effects of physical, emotional, mental, verbal and sexual abuse of my own life path; and like a single drop falling into a pond, the ripples it generated has also touched the neighboring shores and reverberated through the land and touched the shores of many other landscapes and oceans around the world.
In my 60 years of being a silent witness, I have watched the abuse of human beings expand from one individual to another and have seen its’ vine-like propagation slip into the offices and board rooms of businesses and corporations….and sadly, in recent years I have seen its insidious face peering through the eyes of many nations. Today, it seems to have grown toward a global genocide of all that is good and beautiful, destroying all living things in this heavenly Garden of Eden we call Life.