Monday, July 18, 2011

And the darkness settled in...

There's been a power outtage (or something) in the Haunted Mind.  There used to be some rooms with light...but I realized yesterday that I am in one of the rooms that used have light and happiness.  Sadly it is dark now.  Last week I was in another room that used to have light and it is dark too. 

I'm one week into three weeks without therapy, and that is part of the problem.  There are some other factors as well.  The question is not so much how I got here, but how to get the lights back on.  That I don't know.  Pondering this yesterday, I realized why I love the moon and stars so much...they are small lights in the darkness.  Not surprising, I also have a strong attachment to flashlights (one in my purse, one in the van, several in the house...).

The reason it is so hard when my therapist is gone is because it triggers feelings of abandonment.  I usually go to therapy twice a week. Two hours where someone listens to me non-judgementally and validates my feelings, and asks wise questions that help me find light.  In other words it is a place I feel "safe".  (Safe is a difficult concept for me, but it is the best word I can think of at the moment.)  When that 'safety zone' is gone, it brings some very old feelings of abandoment to the surface.  Imagine what it most be like to be an abused child...your home is not safe.  What a terrifying place the world must be for that child!  As horrible as you imagine that might be, the reality is even worse.  I know because sometimes I am emotionally detached and I THINK about what that must feel like....terrible.  And other times, I don't have to think about it because I FEEL it. 

Then despite all logic, I project that feeling of abandoment on to my current life and I feel so very alone. 

And the darkness settles in...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Jury Duty...the rest of the story

Ok, I will try to keep this promises. 

As you can imagine, the attorneys from each side of a case have different ideas about what kind of jurors they hope to have on a case.  In narrowing down a jury pool...and just to give you an idea our pool started with 58, then they decided it had been narrowed too much and brought in 30 more...all that whittled down to 13 or 14...12 jurors and a couple alternates. 

Attorneys can "challenge" a potential juror either for 'cause' or 'preemptory' reasons.  (Just as a side note, I think dismiss or excuse would be a better word choice than challenge, but no one asked me....)  To challenge for cause is used when a juror says, "no, I'm sure I couldn't be unbiased in this case." or "I can't do it because of my job..."  Things like that.  Pre-emptory means the attorneys don't have to give a reason.  The defense or prosecutor simply doesn't want that juror.

I was excused...oops, I mean challenged, by the Defense for pre-emptory reasons.  I can't say that I blame was a 'child rape case'. 

They asked all of us potential jurors if we or anyone we knew had been abused.  (I should note here that they did give us an opportunity to speak to the attorneys and judge privately).  I explained that I really did not know if I could be unbiased...I would certainly try...but because I am in therapy for this very thing, and have PTSD, I can't promise anything.  Apparently since I said I would try to be unbiased, they couldn't challenge me for cause, though, I'm guessing  the defense is wishing they could have challenged me earlier than because...

During the voir dire, the defense asked the jurors questions about their daughters, if the daughters had lied to them and so forth.  The prosecuting attorney asked some of the jurors how they anticipated the defendant to act on the stand.  They said nervous, etc.  He then asked, "what if the defendant doesn't seem nervous?"  One potential juror, young guy (no more than 22) said that would led him to wonder if she was lying.  The prosecutor then asked if anyone disagreed with that.  A couple of us raised our hands. 

"Juror #25, you raised your hand pretty fast, what do you think?"

I did?  Oops.  Then I explained as briefly as possible about dissociation and how I, for example, could talk to them quite unemotionally about my own abuse that does NOT mean that I am lying or unemotional about it.  Dissociation is defense mechanism.  The attorney then turned back to the young man, and asked him if that changed his opinion.  He said it did. it appears to me...the case was basically her word against his, and the defense is planning to paint an unemotional witness as a liar....then I potentially helped the prosecution. 

What a precarious thing the law is...for both parties...the victim and the accused.  On the one hand...imagine that you are the victim.  It can be your word against your assailant.  What if you are dissociated and unemotional?  What if you are the accused?  What if you are innocent?

If I could summarize my jury experience, I would have to say, "There are no easy answers."  That and if you get called to jury duty...bring something to read.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Jury Duty..."this won't hurt a bit"

Jury Summons....the words strike dread into the hearts of many Americans.  But when I saw them in my mail box, I was happy.  I think that makes me some sort of "nerd".  It is something I have always wanted to do...and yet I did have some concerns.  I think I share these concerns with many other people, and I am happy to report that we were wrong.

To start, I had thought that the court system was rather Orwellian.  Big Brother wants you for Jury Duty and you must comply regardless of how it impacts your life.  My next concern was that I might end up on a case that would last "forever" (definition of forever 2 months or more).  After all, I've read John Grishom!  And I remember how long the O.J. Simpson trial lasted...more than forever!   If you have the same preconceptions and want to know how it really works, keep reading.  If I have bored you already...then sorry, please check back soon for my next post. 

I actually received the Jury Summons a few months ago, and it wasn't a good time for me. To my relief and surprise, the summons includes instructions to defer service...and to a date of your choosing!  Wow, thanks Big Brother, that's pretty reasonable!  So I thought about it and defered to July 6th.  I mailed it in, and received a reply in the mail.  Deferal accepted.   So far so good!

On Wednesday, I nervously drove to the court house...another pleasant parking.  Yes, I am easily amused.  I was able to pass through security without incident (phew! going through security always makes me nervous).  Large signs made it easy to find the place to check in. 

Next step, wait.  Finally after about an hour of waiting, a judge came in and addressed us.  He seemed very friendly (must not have been "the" Big Brother.)  He thanked us for being willing to serve.  I thought "willing" was probably a stretch, but it was kind of him, anyway.  He commiserated that the jury pay of $10 a day is really paltry.  In 1913 the pay was $3 a day and in 1950 they changed it to $10 and haven't changed it since.  He explained that the reason for the waiting so far and the wait that awaited us...was this:  in some cases the parties involved can chose if they prefer the case to be decided by a judge or a jury.  For example cases involving a lot of legal business (corporate law etc) are often decided by judges, whereas cases that are based on facts (rather than legal mumbojumbo) are better for juries.  So at the beginning of the day, the court may not know for certain if they will require a jury or not.  Even when they know they do want a jury sometimes the attorneys have motions and things to take care of that require an undetermined amount of time.  When they are ready, they want potential jurors ready to choose from.  (Are you also getting the image of a lake stocked with fish?)

Then there was a short video that explained the basics of jury selection.  Forgive me if you already know this from John Grisham, but I thought it was interesting.  Both the prosecution and the defense have opinions about the kind of people they hope to have on the jury, so from a large pool, they ask questions.  This process is called voir dire. 

After the video we waited.  Another hour or so passed and a group of 50 people was called to court for voir dire.  I was not one of them, so I waited some more.  We broke for lunch (a generous hour and a half) and then returned to wait some more.  I am not kidding about the waiting!  Finally, they announced that they would be calling up 58 potential jurors for the next voir dire.  I was included in this group.

Remember that one of our concerns as potential jurors is getting "stuck on a forever case"?  In this case the judge informed us that this case is expected to last 2 weeks and we were given the opportunity to express ourselves if this would be a hardship.  Several people said it would be and were questioned by the judge.  Some of the reasons given seemed like genuine hardships to me, being the main caregiver for a mentally disabled adult, for example.  Some I had less sympathy reunions, vacations, and airline tickets.  Don't think me heartless...remember we all had the opportunity to defer service.  So I simply wondered why the people in this category didn't defer their service.  The point is that as far as I could tell everyone that said 2 weeks would be a hardship was released back in the the jury pond...pool...waiting area.  They were released from that trial, but not released entirely.  They had to go back to the waiting room and wait to be considered for the next case.  All these people were completely released from jury duty the following day BEFORE lunch.  Their jury service was a day and a half!  (Note: Of the 108 people that reported with me on Wedneday, 14 of them will serve on a jury, the rest were not selected for a jury and "served" only a day and a half.)  From this we can conclude that our fears of being forced into a never-ending-court-case seem to be unfounded.  The judge seemed very reasonable, and so far I haven't encountered Big Brother or any of his minions. 

The next step was to continue the voir dire.  I'm not supposed to talk about the case...even now...and the jury hasn't been decided yet.  So stay tuned for part two later.   I can say, that after a couple hours of this we were released to go home and asked to return in the morning of the following day to continue.  I thought that since we were asked to arrive by 8:45 am that we would start at 9.  Wouldn't that be your assumption as well?  But I had already forgotten the first lesson of jury duty...wait, wait, and wait some more.

On Thursday morning we were informed that our pool of 58 had dwindled too much and so the judge asked for more jurors.  While they went upstairs and repeated the steps, I and my companions had been through the previous day, we sat and can guess what comes next right?  We waited some more.  Seriously.  After lunch we were called up to the court room again.  Would it surprise you at this point to learn that we have not finished voir dire and I have to return on Monday?

So, for those of you, who got bored and are skimming (caught you!) here's what I learned.  Judges and the court system in general are not Orwellian, they are actually pretty reasonable and willing to work with people.  Second, eternal court-cases appear to be less common and prospective jurors in these cases are given ample warning and given a chance to be excused for hardship.

The most important lesson so far seems to be...bring something to do!  They do provide wi-fi, so you could bring your lap top.  They also have vending machines, a microwave and a refrigerator. Whether it is your laptop, a book, or suduku...bring something.  You will need it! 

Other than that Jury Duty as not as bad as people think...come prepared and "this won't hurt a bit."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Inspiration from Scarlett O'Hara

I recently watched Gone with the Wind again.  I love the scene where she returns to Tara during the war and finds things vastly changed.  She goes out to the garden amid the destruction, is able to find one lone turnip.  She takes it firmly in hand and says, "As God is my witness they're not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again."

Love Scarlett or hate her (who could hate her really???)...these words, her tenacity and courage are inspiring.  I find inspiration in her solemn vow.  I find strength in giving myself a similar promise...I will survive this. And when I do, I will use the strength gained to help others.  I will have to pass on lying, cheating, stealing and killing, of course, but you get the idea.

I will get through this.  There are times that I do feel very fragile like a broken egg shell...but I am not an egg shell.  I am heated steel.  I am malleable right now because of extreme pressure, but I have an inner strength that will see me through this!  Watch for it.

I won't be able to do it alone though...I need support...and I can't thank you, my friends, enough for the support you give me by reading my blog.  It means a lot to me.  Together...we will "never be hungry again."

Friday, July 1, 2011

Drawn and Quartered...

My therapist is out of town and that means that I am not doing well.  When he is gone it triggers a certain reaction, which I have come to recognize.  However, recognition is not enough.  You could think of it like this; if you broke your arm, you would recognize that the ensuing pain was due to the injury.  However, knowing that doesn't make the pain go away.  In much the same way, realizing why I have a hard time whenever I can't go to therapy, doesn't help minimize the pain.  Though if I were feeling optomistic, I might theorize that it is a step in that direction.

The cause of the pain is still so acute and tender that I can't write about it yet (sorry if that makes this post a sort of teaser). While I am not ready to talk about the source of the pain, I do want to share something related.  The other day when I was feeling this pain acutely, and having a sort of melt down. 

SIDE BAR: At times like that I have wondered if I was having a 'nervous breakdown'.  That does not seem to be a "real" malady...and just what is meant by patients how use that term I can't pin down and doctors and therapists don't use it at all...or as nearly as I can tell from my google search.  And we all know that google is the be all and end all of research. But I digress.

It was a really, really bad morning.  One of those "forget 'one day at a time', try "one hour at a time" moments.  While I was struggling with this my children reminded me (more than once) that I had promised to take them to the Seattle Aquarium that day.  I could not imagine how I could do that in the state I was in and yet if I didn't how could I explain.  "Sorry, kids but your mother is having a melt down."  Ummm, no.

At times like this I feel "drawn and quartered".  You've heard that phrase, right?  My understanding of this (which was incorrect) has always been that a rope is tied to each of a person's hands and feet the other ends of the ropes to horses, and then the horses are sent running all in different directions.  It's gruesome, I know...sorry.  The actual definition is even worse (too disturbing for me to share here.)  The point is that is how I feel about going to therapy, being a mom, a wife and working full-time, etc.  Sometimes it feels as if I am going to be torn apart. 

Cutting one or all of the ropes is not an what to do?