You know, I think I've been to hell and back....and part of the irony of being in that hell is that some of it I created for myself.
I went to court on Tuesday. The waiting room was packed at first, and then a bailiff came in and announced, "Everyone that is here for traffic court at 5 p.m., follow me." The room cleared. I sat alone for about ten minutes. Gradually, since I had to be there at 5:30 p.m., the room filled up again. The same bailiff came in and announced, "Everyone that is here for court at 5:30 p.m., please follow me."
We were in a smallish court room. All of us crammed together on wooden benches, and we got the "privilege" of listening to all the cases before us. One thing I realized quickly is that there are a lot of people with a lot of problems in the world.
Some people (like truck drivers) had to come from 300 miles away to attend court. Some lost their jobs over their accidents or tickets. Some got their drivers' licenses taken away. One guy had a two speeding tickets in January: One was for going 35 miles over the limit in a 65 mph zone! The other one he got in February for going 31 miles over the limit in a 65! I was thinking, "This guy has a death wish for sure!" Anyway, I was the only one in this group that was there for anything non-traffic related.
As I sat there, my anxiety mounted. By the time it was my turn to stand before the judge at the podium, I was nauseated and sure I was going to pass out. I didn't. I went up, plead guilty, answered a few questions, and in the middle of the questions, started crying. This judge is notorious for being tough and I wasn't sure I could handle a lecture from her.
She didn't give me one. She said, "You're obviously very upset about your dogs. I'm giving you the minimum sentence of $25 per ticket and court costs. It sounds like you've had a rough year so far. Good luck to you."
Off I went to pay my fine, which was $237....$162 of it was court costs.
I had been trying not to cry in the courtroom, but once I got to the cashier, I started crying uncontrollably. I had been trying to contain my anxiety too long. By the time I got to the car where Robert was waiting for me, I was nearly hyperventilating.
I sobbed for at least 45 minutes, while Robert drove around, listening. He didn't seem upset about the fine, he didn't ask me why I was so upset, he just listened. He kept saying, "The worst is almost over. You've gotten that out of the way. We'll make it through tomorrow. I'll be there with you. You won't be alone. It's not going to be nearly as bad as today. You'll see. The worst is behind you now. Go ahead and cry and get it all out. You need to. You need to let it out. You've been keeping it in too long."
Finally, we pulled over at Super Walmart and I got myself together. I had to pick up a hair care product for Jess that she'd been asking for.
I went in, and ended up seeing my half brother, Tony. We talked for 45 minutes. He was funny. I was standing by the photo printers and I kept seeing this guy look over the top of the paper rack. I could only see his hair and his glasses. I would look down, and then I'd notice someone looking at me, and I'd look over, and he'd look down. Finally, he walked over. He said, "Wheh. Thank God it's you. I was afraid it wasn't you and then I'd try to explain to some strange lady that I thought you were my sister and she'd say, 'yeah right' and I'd feel stupid." ;) Tony and I have the same birth mom, but have different dads. His dad is black, and he and I don't look anything alike. He's tall and trim with a beautiful dark complexion and dark eyes with chiseled features; I'm short and fair skinned with reddish hair and green eyes and nothing is chiseled about my features. I cracked up. I could imagine anyone would doubt his story.
It's been awhile since I'd seen Tony, so we had a good talk. We said the usual, "Let's stay in touch this time," which I hope we do....we have good intentions but we both know how much life gets in the way. We parted ways, then Robert and I went to pick up a few food related items. There we ran in to Robert's uncle and we ended up talking to him for about 45 minutes as well.
I got Jess' product and headed home. I went in the bedroom to look for something and I heard Jess arguing with Robert. She was, apparently, mad that I had picked up what she considered the 'wrong' hair care product and was throwing a fit about it. (Wrong brand.) I heard Robert say, "Do you know what kind of day your mom has had, Jess? Do you know that she was determined to stop crying long enough to go in to the store so she could buy you that? She could barely get it together, but she was still thinking of you. Stop and think of how your mom feels. Don't say another word about this. I mean it."
I was touched by this and felt grateful to have his support. He treated me with a great deal of compassion, which I appreciated.
Then, Wednesday was what the court calls an "initial assessment" to get Josh in to counseling/treatment.
It went very well. Robert had to go straight to the meeting from work...no time to go home to shower and change, but he went, anyway. He works in a foundry, so he is always covered with black dust, but he knew how important this meeting was. He explained that and apologized for his appearance. I was proud of him for being there.
We talked, the "assessor" asked a lot of questions of all of us. We filled out a stack and a half of paperwork. She had Josh sit in the waiting room while she asked us a bunch of questions. By the time we got done talking, it was close to the end of the scheduled two hours. Josh got about ten minutes to answer some questions as well, without us in the room.
When we were done talking, the lady looked at us and told us what her impression was of the family.
She said in all of her years in the court system, she had never been quite so amazed with a family as ours. She said she could tell we were very close. She said that it is usually difficult to convince one parent to come to meet with her regarding a child, let alone two parents that obviously care so much for their child. She said that as she watched us talk, we huddled together, joked, laughed, touched each other's hands, and that is not the body language she is used to seeing from families. She says usually they scoot their chairs apart and if they do look at one another, it's to give each other dirty looks or make sarcastic remarks.
She said that we were all pretty much in agreement about Josh's problems and his strengths. She said, again, that it's usually hard to get families to agree on anything. She said she is extremely optimistic about Josh's success based on these observations of us. I was as honest as I could possibly be, as was Robert. Josh was quiet but not argumentative, which was good.
Her plan is to start with what she called the most "benign" diagnosis possible and go from there. With teenagers, the agency starts out simple and they work their way up if they HAVE to. She is giving Josh an initial diagnosis of something like "transitional anger dysfunction" or something like that. In layman's terms, he doesn't know how to back off when he's getting mad. He doesn't have the tools or maturity to calm himself down when he's getting worked up, and he gets out of control. He is not normally a real violent person. Sometimes when he's mad he can walk away. Other times, he can't. Factors in his environment, his hormones, whether or not he is tired, whether or not he is overwhelmed, whatever...these factors play a part in whether or not he can tone down his temper and walk away.
We came to the conclusion that, like his mom, ;) he gets his feelings hurt easily. However, when I get my feelings hurt, I cry. I walk away and go take a nap or pray or write or blog. He gets angry and lets it fester until he explodes.
So, that's what we're going to start out with and strategies will be devised to help him learn how to manage his anger. If he gets in any more trouble during his probation and counseling, there may be a reevaluation of his diagnosis. For now, that's what we're looking at.
After the meeting we went out to eat and just spent some time together, just the three of us. It was a good time.
I had all this anxiety about those two days and they ended up being tolerable experiences. I was drained emotionally on Thursday, but today I am feeling good. Bipsy and I did the "Leslie Sansone 3 Mile Super Challenge Walk" yesterday after work, which made me feel tired but on track with my goals. (And by super challenge, they aren't kidding, btw!) I think my choice to do that workout impacted how I feel today. I have energy, I am smiling, I am positive, I am at peace. The sun is out and I think that is helping immensely as well.
One cool and ironic thing that happened this week is that I have reconnected with all three of my 1/2 siblings; Tony, Todd and Tami. I didn't actively seek out any of them. I explained about seeing Tony. Todd, who moved to Hawaii, instant messaged me on Tuesday, I believe it was. We hadn't talked since the fall. We've had some great chats this week. Then, he passed my email address on to Tami, and she instant messaged me as well. She's 8 months pregnant! She has two boys who are 8 and 5, I think. She's been told that they are pretty sure this is a girl! This will be her last child, so she is very hopeful that they are right.
So, the hell I was putting myself through was just that. The hell I was putting myself through. None of my trials ended up being as difficult as I had built them up to be in my mind.
The program assessor gave me some really logical thoughts to ponder about myself. She said some things that made me think. I will share them here at some point. I think my self esteem came up a notch just from that one meeting alone, and we weren't even talking about me, per Se. I have a lot of hope that everything is going to be fine, fine, fine. ;)
I hope things are fine with you, too. I know some of my friends out there are sick, tired, discouraged, and unsure of which way to turn. Remember, you are loved and you are important. You are stronger than you think you are. You can and will get through this. Keep believing, okay?
Have a good weekend.