The purpose of this post is to be “real” with the readers. If I cannot be real with you, then it would be fair to assume I cannot be real with myself. I invite you, for a time, to slip into my skin and take a walk with me down the streets of my life paved with shame and devastation.
My senses, invaded by the smell of musty old paper files, various colognes and perfumes and a hint of cigarette smoke provoked a feeling of nausea as I leaned against the wall outside the courtroom with countless other court-goers. The sign on the door in bold type read, “Please have all necessary court documents in hand upon entrance, and the emphatic ‘no cell phones allowed’ in all caps.
The bailiff approached the door, checking each document as the plaintiffs and defendants entered the courtroom. Anxiously trying to absorb my surroundings, I found my seat in the last bench available in the back of the courtroom. Never, have I ever, felt so out of place as I did on that day.
Whispers of others discussing their cases, lawyers, dressed in fine linen suits, traipsed back and forth to consult with their clients and the downright nosy regulars gazed on in anticipation of the events soon to unfold adjusted themselves in their seats.
The door opened and shut numerous times adding to the number of folks to be heard. However, the person I was looking for did not merely walk in. He walked in with his entire family; aunts, uncles, brothers, friends, witnesses, and worst of all MY children. The entire parade took up four rows.
I feel it necessary to add here that once I had my husband arrested for communicating threats to kill me, my children were irate and in complete shock and disbelief that I could have thrown their father in jail like a common criminal and as a result, they returned to him. That, coupled with the fact that they feared him themselves made it easier for them and I was obliged to give them that solace. I held no ill will, only the deepest of agony.
The bailiff called the court to order and an eerie hush fell over the courtroom; everyone rose from their seats in unison as the honorable Judge C walked in and took his place of superiority at the bench. The bang of his gavel shot through me like a volt of electricity and the juices in my belly churned as I reached for my mother’s hand for support.
Judge: Mrs. Hart please take the stand.
My legs like rubber propelled me to the stand where I took my seat and the oath to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Mr. Hart: Did anyone hear me tell you that I was going to kill you?
Me: No, you knew better than to say it in front of witnesses.
Mr. Hart: Have I ever hurt you, lay hands on you or touched you in any way to cause injury?
Me: Yes! Sobbing uncontrollably, the judge asked if I needed a break and I answered with an emphatic no.
Mr. Hart: Do you have proof of the times I hurt you physically or otherwise?
Me: No….still inconsolable.
Mr. Hart: Isn’t it true that you have made a habit of fabricating fantastical stories about me because of your mental instability?
Me: You know that is not true Jon, your own children can attest to that. My words nearly incomprehensible. My mental “instability” is caused by years of torment at your hand.
Mr. Hart: Isn’t it true that you are taking powerful narcotic medications causing your memory to be less than reliable?
Me: You know that I am. You injured my arm with such force that I can no longer use it and the pain can only be described as waves of thunder and lightning in rapid succession every waking moment of my life.
Judge: What medications are you taking Mrs. Hart? I rattled off the list as the judge scribbled his notes.
Mr. Hart: If that were true, if I had inflicted those injuries, why didn’t you have me arrested then?
Me: I was afraid, and I am still afraid, but I have had enough. It is time for you to pay for your sins Jon. It is time for the children and I to be free.
Judge: That will be all Mrs. Hart. You can step down.
I had no witnesses, no one to stand up for me. The domestic violence advocates were not present to assist; my case was lost. The restraining order now voided and the charges were dropped.
Judge: Mr. Hart. Do you have any witnesses you would like to call?
Mr. Hart: Yes your honor. I would like to call my daughter H to the stand.
My heart sank like a stone as I watched my eleven year old, distraught, daughter go up to the stand.
Judge: Do you want to testify sweetheart?
H: No she whispered, head bowed and clearly traumatized. Weeping she returned to her seat.
At the very least, the chasm called my soul widened on that day and the decision to take my own life played in my mind. I would be free, one way or another, I would be free.
I returned home with Jon defeated not only by him, but also by the courts and the domestic violence center assigned to my case.
My children, in my mind, had turned against me and the agony was more than I could bare. Over the course of the next nine months, I made plans to end my life as casually as if I were making a grocery list. That is until my youngest son approached the bedside where I lay lifeless at the brink of death.
Tears filled his eyes as he whispered three of the most powerful words into my ear breathing life into my very being. “Mommy, I need you.”