Monday, August 8, 2011

Lesson Learned

I feel blessed. I know that statement might sound a little silly or premature for anyone who knows the battle I've been fighting, but the reality is I do feel blessed and I feel compelled to share why.

I have friends. Many, many friends who care deeply about me and my children. I used to view myself as someone who had few friends and many acquaintances, but that's just not true. I have seen during this past year how many of the so-called acquaintances are actually true friends. So, to my friends, I say thank you for your continued love, encouragement, and support.

I have a great family who has been there as my safely net--catching me every time I fall or even slip a little. They really are amazing and loving people.

I have role models, though they probably wouldn't consider themselves such, they are the ones who have given me the strength to continue on when I have felt I wasn't strong enough to do this. They are (mostly) women who are currently or have in the past overcome huge obstacles and did it with an exorbitant amount of faith and courage. I admire these women and yearn to be like them.

I have a lawyer who is talented, passionate, and amazing at what she does--it's obvious why she is one of the best.

I feel blessed because no matter what the outcome of this will be, I believe I will be okay.

Court, although extremely painful at times, went well. I have come out on the other side of this believing that we did all we could do. And with that comes a small feeling of peace.

Court Detail:
First of all I have to set the stage. The husband is at the far left of the courtroom with his lawyer. The in-laws are also to the left with their lawyer. Then I'm on the right with my lawyers. The first two days I had two lawyers there working as a team (which was pretty cool to watch how well they worked together). Then the last day it was just me and one lawyer. I looked overpowered because of the sheer number of people opposing me. It would have been intimidating if I didn't have truth on my side and believe in my attorney.

Both opposing attorneys are the antithesis of mine. While mine is energetic, theirs are somewhat lethargic and slow. Mine is strong and determined, theirs are passive with, seemingly, no agenda. Mine is happy and positive, theirs are plastic and somewhat gloomy even when they smile. Mine is succinct when she speaks, theirs fumbles around for words. Mine seems to embody everything you picture a good lawyer doing, while theirs you end up wondering how they ever made it through law school and why they chose this career. It's such a stark contrast.

The first day in court was our day to present witnesses and our evidence. I was on the stand for a good 3+ hours. Not my funnest moment in time, but not my worst either. I felt like it was going well until cross examination. Then it was like trying to convince someone to believe you when they've already made up their mind about your guilt. It's awful and feels like a bad dream that you want to wake up from.

His main points seemed to be that I signed the relinquishment, end of story. That I was a willing participant in my husband's deviant sexual behaviors and that I was under no duress at the time of relinquishment. What he clearly couldn't see (or didn't care to point out) was that duress is accumulative and that I was being forced to participate (and LIKE it) or my husband threatened divorce. If I didn't behave as he wanted me to, then he would divorce me and take my children. That was always the threat. Their lawyer also tried to say that because there was no physical abuse that abuse didn't happen.

The next day was just as difficult because I had to sit there, listen, and try to digest a copious amount of lies. Even my father-in-law wasn't completely truthful. That surprised me, but I kind of understand--he's been living with 2 manipulators and liars who have been feeding him the lies for over a year now, so he probably believes what he is saying. Who knows?

One of the other witnesses they called was a bouncer from a strip club my husband made us go to. He was truthful, but not really helpful to the opposition's case. I had already stated that I had been to clubs with my husband because it was a requirement. So, his testimony was nothing short of a waste of time. Except that in cross examination my lawyer asked if he had ever seen my husband there by himself. His answer was, 'Oh, yes!' It was pretty funny.

The third day was last Thursday. It was still the oppositions turn to finish up witnesses. So, that left the mother-in-law and the husband. We knew it would be a long day just because of who was on the stand!

It's amazing to me how good of liar my mother-in-law is. She can spout off any lie without a second thought, she can talk enough to turn the question around and never actually answer what was asked, she has this uncanny ability to appear creepily friendly, but slice you with her words. I shiver just thinking about her. My lawyer found no reason to cross examine her because she's not credible and won't be truthful and will just waste time in the process of trying to get a real answer out of her.

So, all that was left was the husband. I learned a few things about myself from his testimony. As shocking as these things might be, I hope you all will get a laugh out of it and hear my sarcasm even as I write this list of things I discovered about myself (these are all the things I can remember that I had never heard before...I'll leave out all the ones I had heard over and over again in my marriage):

He said--when I was pregnant with Bethany I wanted an abortion.

He said--I faked a miscarriage to my sister, Bekki, because I wanted to keep my options open.

He said--we only moved to Boston because I didn't want to live in Utah (true, I didn't want to live in Utah just up the road from his parents or worse with his parents!), it was just a coincidence that Harvard happened to be in Boston, so he got to attend his dream school.

He said--I wanted and asked, on several occasions, for the adoption because I didn't want to be a mom and I couldn't handle it.

He said--I had sexual addictions and he was lucky that they just happened to be things he liked and was into, too.

He said--I wasn't a virgin when I got married, but that I had had multiple partners and sexual encounters.

He said--I had viewed porn frequently before I got married (good grief! I didn't even know what porn was exactly before I got married. I knew what it was NOT, but I didn't know what it WAS. Naive, but true).

He said--I, frequently, threw things at him and at my kids. He cited me throwing cereal bowls and cereal at them (just a word of clarification: I don't eat cereal and neither did my kids because they didn't like it. We rarely ever had it in the house. So, the likelihood of me actually throwing a cereal bowl is pretty bleak).

He said--I yanked, pulled, kicked, bit, spanked, slapped, and hit my kids. And that I told them often that they were worthless and that I hated them. (Anyone who has seen me with my kids knows that this just simply isn't possible--though I do have to say, I did try spanking, but my kids just laughed at me. It was completely non effective, so I turned to more positive methods of discipline).

He said--I, frequently, was yelling and screaming at him and the kids (more on that point later).

He said--I suffered from extreme postpartum depression after I had Bethany--(His self diagnosis. I never saw a doctor because I felt fine)

This list is longer, but I think these are the ones that shocked me the most. However, the words that came out loud and clear were the words unspoken--even my lawyer picked up on it. That he was so utterly PERFECT and accepted no responsibility for anything that had transpired during the marriage because he was the quintessential ideal husband--no faults, no issues, no problems with him at all.

The highlight of the day came while my lawyer was questioning my husband. He was becoming flustered and she was becoming very passionate about what she was saying. He then declared, "Stop yelling at me!" I almost laughed out loud! My lawyer retracted momentarily and apologized for, perhaps, sounding like she was yelling, but reiterated that she was not. Even the judge said, "I don't think she was yelling at you." Haha! It's only funny because of what he had been claiming: that I frequently yelled and screamed at him the kids. Well, if he thinks that yelling is what my lawyer was doing, then it's pretty clear that his and his parent's definition of yelling is drastically different from reality!

Then in the middle of the opposing counsel's (boring, long winded) closing remarks it started raining outside, then thundering, then hailing and lightening-ing. We were on the top floor of the courthouse so it was so loud and deafening. I thought that the roof was going to cave in and lightening was going to strike them all down--perhaps, that was just wishful thinking. The timing of that hailstorm couldn't have been more perfect.

The last thing I wanted to add regarding this trial. It was long, tough, and very grueling. But I learned something so critically important during this process. And I learned it on the very last day in the very last hours of court.

I was watching my lawyer give her closing remarks. She was so poised. She was articulate. She was calm and collected. She was prepared. BUT she was animated and passionate when she spoke. There was nothing passive about her. I wouldn't call her aggressive because that's too manly of a term and she is anything but manly. And I thought to myself, "wow, it's okay to be like that. It's okay to be passionate. It's okay to be articulate. It's okay to have an opinion and defend it. It's okay to be a woman who knows her own mind. It's okay to be confident, self assured, and to have a career you enjoy." This was revelatory for me because for 5 years I was told it wasn't okay to be who I am. It wasn't okay to have moods. It was a bad thing to be too happy or too sad or too angry or too frustrated or too passionate. But I saw in those last few hours of court that it WAS and IS okay. Not everyone is going to like me, but it's still okay to be me.

As for the outcome of the trial, we will have to wait. The judge has 60 days to make a ruling, so I'm not expecting a decision before then. We've done all we can do to this point and it's out of my hands. I now have the test of sitting back and trusting in the Lord and that truth will prevail.

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