We need to stop having these months. You are often so harsh as somebody (not a very smart somebody I might add) makes this month the month to focus on breast cancer AND domestic violence. Therefore, two of the most horrific times of my life I get to revisit for 31 days. When I was a kid I thought you came before December, always confused as to why my birthday wasn’t the day after halloween. We have spent 3 dates in October with judges and lawyers. One in 2008, another in 2013 and then there was today. If I could skip a month it would be YOU.
Given your track record, October, I was checking the county clerks website to see if he petitioned the court to reopen the case. I knew it was going to happen; but my blood temperature dropped to what must have been ice cold, as I felt a rush from my head to my feet. There it was, in black and white; we were going back to court. Thanks October.
My first reaction, and that is what it was, a reaction–was to write a letter to the judge and ask him to make it go away, essentially asking the judge to lift the order and not make me go to court. The responses of my friends and family were respectful, but as I go back and read the texts now like “did you already send this?” or “at some point I want you to tell my your thought process on this” or “did you run this by anybody else?”. I am sales person, I spun it, but at the end of the day I knew that my response was one of fear and not wanting to unearth all of that pain, again.
I had just returned from a trip to see some friends that I have known for a long time. I was in Amy & Chuck’s wedding; and I laugh all the time when I am with their family. They are the kind of friends that will tell you to get your own food, and be offended if you don’t. They are precious to me and Amy & I grew close fast over 20 years ago. I was a little sad when the wheels of the plane hit the ground in Tampa. But my buddy Crissy picked me up and I had plans. October, you had behaved yourself so far, but I knew it would not last.
I had (have) plans to finish this blog and get it published as a book and then do what the Lord led me to do; but secretly I was (am) okay if I never hear or write the words “domestic violence” again. It is not who I am; it is what happened to me. It has been 8 years and my life is full of love and life and opportunity…and yet, I knew before I walked into my counselor’s office on Monday what he was going to tell me.
We had a set back; a typical PTSD set back complete with flashbacks. And we spent 2 hours getting me to 2014 and even after my appointment my flashbacks were back. But, I walked out of his office with a mission–to stand up not only for me, but for the hundreds, if not thousands of victims of domestic violence that read this blog.
October, even you could not squelch, my understanding of the beautiful compliments of the last year–words like Brave & Courageous. And so, on Monday, when I walked out of Dr. Petit’s office, with just 72 hours to go before court; I decided to fight. But, they were a hard 72 hours, with little sleep and lots of flashbacks.
But, when I woke up to today with 25 text messages and at least double that on Facebook, I had a strange peace. I slept well, and was nervous, but okay. My main concern was that if it didn’t go my way that all of those that prayed would be discouraged or disappointed. In truth, I would have been too–but you don’t live a life like mine without realizing His Ways are Higher, Better and often defy human logic.
I got up, got dressed, I was 20 minutes early–and then I spent the next 22 minutes looking for my keys.
I have no sense of direction and so even though I live in this tiny town, I still get lost. I was not at my house because I was afraid, and so I was at the River with Mama and Papa Loughridge. OnStar was so nice to give me directions. As I got closer, I got more nervous. I found a parking spot and walked to the court house, and my heart was beating about 120 beats per minute. Something about being in a house full of cops and criminals will do that to a person. I found courtroom C, and waited for my attorney. I was fielding so many text messages I could not keep up; and suddenly I got peace back again–it was perfect peace. I had never felt the prayers of so many people before.
“Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place, I can fell His mighty power and His grace, I can feel the touch of angel wings, I see glory on each face, surely, the presence of the Lord is in the place”
My attorney got there and took me in the same room where we had discussed strategy just a year before. For reasons that I can not understand, I got the idea to ask Dr. Petit (my counselor) to write a letter. And write a letter he did. He spent hours on it, and Ruthie (his wife) spent more time and then Crissy put the finishing touches on it. Bruce walked in that room and these were his words to me. “I am going to hand him this letter and not say another word”. He wanted to see the judge before I did and then he came and got me. I was IN the court room and I heard the bailiff SCREAMING “parties for Watson, all parties for Watson”. Um, I am in here dude, do you just like to yell?
“With your back against the wall you would be amazed at the amount of things that can run through your mind, all at once. That is where I found myself the very first time I got hit. And my life would never be the same. That moment—the one where everything changes- can ‘t be explained. I don’t know how it is for other victims of domestic abuse, but for me I was absolutely stunned. He was saying a bunch of words and as soon as he hit me I heard a pop and felt warm blood trickle down my face. That eardrum-to this day-has never been the same.” from a previous blog written.
The judge had granted him a telephonic hearing. I am always confused about whether I am supposed to sit or stand, and my heart was pounding. I saw the clerk pick up the phone to call him, and I heard the judge, saying things, but I could not hear him.
The irony of that is beautiful and God given. Just one day before this one I was at the ENT’s office who told me my ear was in bad shape. I failed the hearing test for that ear. So, not hearing what he said was just fine with me.
However, the judge realized I couldn’t hear and asked me to come closer to the phone so I could hear. And he sounded pathetic. He sounded like the man described in Romans 1–a depraved mind. And for the first time ever, I found some resolution in that, at least I know there was nothing I could have done in those 12 years to lead him to the Lord; and I felt a release at that moment. This was no longer about what I did wrong over 12 years; this was about standing up, raising my right arm and swearing to tell the truth. This was about setting the record straight. This was for every victim of domestic violence who did not have 50 text messages and a 100 FB posts–and it was important to me to stand up–it was important for me to stand up and use my voice. It was time to accept that, perhaps, I was born for this.
“There’s a time to hold your tongue
Time to keep your head down
There’s a time but it’s not now
Sometimes you gotta go uninvited
Sometimes you gotta speak
When you don’t have the floor
Sometimes you gotta move
When everybody else says you should stay
No way, no, not today” “Born For This” Mandisa
I could not hear him because of that first slap; but I heard loud and clear that this is a mission that I must fulfill whether it happens after this blog, or if I champion this cause for the rest of my life.
What I did hear was “I am denying your request Mr. Watson”. And with those words came air in my lungs, tears in my eyes and text messages and Facebook messages that I will, no doubt, keep around for encouragement. Because one thing is certain.
I heard you. And I am so grateful.
And I am not not talking to you October.