Sunday, May 31, 2009

When it's over

I've come to the realization that my marriage is not likely to last much longer. It's been a slow realization, but it's becoming clearer to me everyday. This makes me sad for a whole host of reasons. First, and probably foremost is the fact that I have children. My kids will not get to see each of their parents everyday growing up. They will miss out on having an intact family, and it doesn't matter how hard we try to make things 'normal' for them, it won't be. They are likely to have "step" somethings, blended families, more than one "home." As a divorce lawyer, I spend a lot of time reassuring my clients that it will be ok, but I sure as hell never wanted this for my kids.

I hate to give up the illusion that I could keep it together for life. I took my vows seriously. I don't like to give up, walk away. I'm stubborn. Call it the "German" influence in my DNA, I hate to admit that maybe I can't do everything, be everything, achieve everything. That's difficult, too.

And of course part of me is just sad. While I won't air our dirty laundry on a blog, I think we both went into our marriage with the best intentions. That we could last, despite the odds that exist. Somewhere along the line, it just started unraveling. The "what if's?" are a big part of all of this too. It makes me sad.

Yesterday's gospel lesson was especially poignant. The Pentecost story - but the phrase that got me had to do with the idea was the one about how God cannot reveal everything to us all at once. It made me recall a song - "you could touch it, but your heart would break." The idea that some things are better dealt with as they come, rather than anticipating, analyzing, figuring it all out to the degree that living becomes a planned event.

For today, I'm just sad.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Growing Young

Yesterday my oldest graduated from kindergarten. I watched her sing her songs, get her diploma and hug her friends. She had a great time, and I enjoyed watching her. It literally seems like a few weeks ago I brought her home from the hospital, full of fear and awe over what God had created, and I had carried, nourished and brought forth and was now entrusted with for the rest of my life.

The first night she was home, her dad and my husband, had to go back to work. He was working third shift back then, which meant we were home together for a few hours and then he headed off to work while I kept the new addition to our family from 10pm to 9am by myself. I was scared. She cried, and cried...and then cried some more. I didn't know what to do. I was tired, sore and above all I was terrified there was something wrong with her. It turns out she was adjusting to her new environment. Everything was fine by about 5am. I'm not sure she ever cried like that again. She was a fat, happy baby. She nursed well, reached her milestones early and generally made us smile and laugh often. She was, and is, a precocious, friendly kid; the kind who adapts easily to the environment around her and loves life.

Now that she's nearly 6 years old, she talks back, rolls her eyes and is still smart as a whip. The thing I enjoy the most...watching her when she doesn't know I'm watching. When she's playing pretend or talking to herself. I love seeing these moments, wandering what she will become. Who will she be? What will she do with her life? Will she ever know the depth of my love for her? More than anything I want for her, I want her to know she is loved. Unconditionally.

As a little girl, I never understood that. I'm sure I was loved, I just never felt it. I felt criticized and condemned. I felt alone a lot. As if I didn't quite fit anywhere.

So many dreams and hopes I have for my only daughter. I can't wait to see her where her life will lead her next. I'm glad I get to watch and listen.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


This has been a strange week for me. It's Wednesday, and I feel like I'm catching up on the all the stuff I've been neglecting at work for the past few weeks, BUT I have officially disengaged from lots of the technology in my life. This is a pretty monumental change for me.

I've carried a Blackberry for almost 7 years - back when it was a big, ugly contraption all the way to today when it's a cute little red thing. It was a job requirement at my last firm, no choice about it. You had to be accessible all the time to clients, which in turn meant very little "down time." When I started my own practice about a year ago, I got one of my own that I paid for. This past week I decided it was time for a change.

The problem isn't the blackberry, or email or facebook. The problem is with me. I cannot seem to disengage from work. When someone emails me or calls at 10pm, I feel the need to at least look at what has been said or written. I can't stop myself from looking, trying to help and ultimately getting myself worked up about whatever the email or voicemail says.

So, I ditched my blackberry over the weekend and disconnected from Facebook for the most part. And I can't say I'm too sad about it. At all. It's nice to not feel as if I'm bombarded by messages I don't want to deal with at home at all hours of the day and night. I think I'm going to like this new phase in my life.

The facebook decision also hasn't been very difficult, but emanated from something different than the need to get away from work. I was on the phone with an old friend recently, and about halfway through the conversation I welled up with tears. It was so *good* to hear her voice. I could feel the love and concern in her words and her inflections. It was then that I decided I needed a break from the "email/texting" way of life. While email is a wonderful, powerful tool, it also dehumanizes us over time. Rather than call someone up or go to visit them, we email. It's faster. We can multitask at the same time. It's easier and more efficient. But at the base level, we miss something in that form of communication. We miss tone, inflection, tears, anger, indignation. All the emotions that we might feel or the other might feel are missing and lost in translation. So, I've started to avoid email too. I've been picking up the phone as opposed to dropping a quick line of email. I really believe these changes will alter the course of my life in some ways.

And so I'm happy to be disengaged.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Yesterday I went to seminary...well not exactly. I started something called the Episcopal School for Ministry. It's a small group of folks that meet once a month on a Friday night and Saturday day. You pick one of the classes, but the group as a whole spends Friday night in community. It was really a great experience, and I'm headed back today for my first "class" experience.

I'm not sure what I expected, but this road that I'm on has led me to some interesting people who I see I can learn so much from. Most of the people in the program are significantly older than I am. Which is to say they likely have wisdom I don't have, so i know there is much to be absorbed and learned through this process. The really great thing is how open and engaged everyone is. Quite honestly I'm used to hanging around other lawyers. We tend to be pretty surface, gossipy kind of people. We don't typically get beyond that, even when we are good friends. In the ESM group, in the first night I met these people, most were willing to share insights and life experiences that were at once personal and touching.

In recent weeks, my faith journey has felt very much like "climbing to." There's this great song by Rich Mullins where he says "I don't know if I am climbing to or falling in..." He's speaking of his faith and his journey to faith. Most days lately I feel it has been a struggle - a climbing experience. A lot of effort, and sometimes very exhausting. But last night it felt more like "falling in." I don't mean that it was easy or simple, but rather that I could relax into the fall. Falling is a scary sensation, and I think Rich knew that when he picked that phrase. Because falling means vulnerability and a loss of control on the way down. But if I can allow myself to fall in, then I can escape the difficulty of the climb for a period and find the rest and peace I desire.

The other part of that song is Rich's wish for his listener, "May you know with all the saints, the height, the depth and the width and the length of the love of God." The professor in charge of the program quoted a passage in Ephesians where the stanza above comes from in describing the study of theology. I'm eager to know what's next for me in this journey, but I hope a greater and deeper knowledge and understanding of the love of God is a part of whatever is to come.

Monday, May 11, 2009

What a day...

Yesterday i wrote all about being unsettled. Apparently I had good reason to be that way. I lost big today.

This case has been on my mind nonstop for the past 9 months. It was like being pregnant, and today I gave birth to a monster. The trial went well. I was clearly ahead (I think). I got all my records in, I made my points, I cross-examined the opposing party with a flash of righteous anger (which is the best kind for such a thing)... and at the end of the day the Judge believed my evidence - said that he disbelieved the other side's evidence, and yet, he decided to return the child to her addicted, mentally ill and unstable mother. Inexplicably, he didn't see the urgency. I failed to communicate to him in some way. My client loses, and worst of all the child we were fighting over loses. A lot. Her stability, her sense of home, her life as she knows it at 4 and half. I'm angry, but more than that, I'm sad. This child is in danger, I really believe that, and I couldn't protect her. I failed as an advocate, and that just sucks. There's no other way to describe it, it just sucks.

Intellectually i know tomorrow is another day, and honestly it has got to be better than today. But after 10 hours in court today, I could've used better news. My client didn't get what she deserved. I'm disappointed. I know my dreams will be full of all the things I didn't say but would've carried the day. (which of course I know is crazy)

What a day.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


It's Mother's Day, and as these sorts of holidays go, I've had a nice, relaxing day. I even got a nap in. My husband (who is doing some major butt-kissing this weekend) took me and the kids out to lunch where the 3 year old cried for a good part of the meal, but since that's a regular occurence, not too bad. I took the kids to see my mom too, and nothing too exciting happened. Now it's about time to wind down for the day, and I'm feeling unsettled.

Tomorrow is a big day for me. I have a trial in a guardianship case that I have been working on for months. My exhibits are prepared, my outlines are ready, and everything should be fine. That's the problem...should be. I never feel entirely settled when it comes to these things. I know my case, I have 200 pages worth of exhibits to prove my point. I've got a brutal cross-examination ready and waiting, and yet I don't feel particularly good about any of it tonight. High conflict cases make me uneasy. I don't enjoy the fight nearly as much now as I did at 25 or even at 30. And compound my anxiety by 100 and you feel how my client is probably feeling right now. She is a great lady. I respect her, I admire her and I don't want to let her down. She deserves a bulldog, and so I'll bark and growl tomorrow, but I have to admit it's getting harder to bark and growl. These cases wear me out. There's so much at stake, and so I take it on, shoulder more of the burden than belongs to me, and it's just...tiring.

Ultimately I trust my preparations will pay off. And I trust that the truth in these situations prevails, but I'm not the Judge, nor am I in the jury pool. I hope I am persuasive, articulate and artful. I pray that I think quickly, react swiftly and remember to be respectful to the other attorney (who I personally don't like all that much). But for now, I'm feeling unsettled.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Opening my hands

The past several nights, I have slept with my hands clenched. I didn't set out to do that. And until I wake up and my arms hurt from gripping too tight, I don't even realize I'm doing it. I first noticed it on Monday morning. I thought I was starting to get some sort of arthritis - but as the day wore on, my arms recovered, and by that night I felt mostly normal again. Then, it happened again.

All week long I've been trying to understand why I'm doing this. Some days I think I'm a fairly insightful kind of girl, but other days I know that there are so many things I don't know/can't understand/am not ready to get. What I've begun to discern today is that ultimately my life's purpose is really all about learning to open my hands. Whether to accept the gifts God has offered already, to open myself to who I am and am meant to be or to serve others, all require an openness.

To be blunt, that's tough. I'm closed off to myself. I can cry over someone else's journey, but I avoid my own story. The pain associated with this cracking open is difficult to contend with. I feel as if I dropped the egg, and now I'm trying desperately to scrape the contents back into the shell. It is spilling out and I don't know how to contain it. And instinctually, I ball up my fists. My jaw becomes tight, and back into the turtle's shell I go.

Today I shared a piece of my story with someone I don't know very well. There are certain people in life that you meet, and on some level you instinctually trust. But what if my instincts are wacked out again? Once you let go of this burden, and heave it onto someone else, the hearer thinks differently of you. It's a story I don't tell often, in fact I think I've maybe revealed parts of the story 4 times in my life. It is the secret that drives a wedge between me and every other person I know. It creates distance between me and God. And since the moment the words escaped my mouth today, I've wished for them back. Some stories weren't meant to be repeated. They just hurt too much. Logically, I realize it's part of the movement forward, but it doesn't make it easier to speak of. Healing always involves ripping off the scabs, but I wish that it didn't. There are things that are so ugly and heinous, that i can't escape the ugliness. The terror and horror of those moments flows over me, despite my best intentions, I feel diminished by having given words and life to the story again. I continue to wonder what if - what if I had run faster, been smarter, reached out sooner... I cannot get past it. I cannot run through it or around it. The experience just is and I'm scared to live in it again. As much as I insisted that I would not let this experience define me, little by little I must admit that it has. That's where my sense of guilt lives.

I'm scared of men. I'm afraid to physically reach for people. I over-protect my children. I'm judgmental - mostly so about myself, but about others too. I'm unable to articulate why these things are, but I know them about myself. And in some way, in some place, I am mad as hell. The person I most want to trust is God. I want a close, intimate (don't like that word either) relationship. I want to understand and be understood. But, honestly, I don't trust myself. I don't trust my own instincts, my own ability to discern what I need or want. And, I'm pissed off. How does something like this happen? What was my sin? Those years were so painful, so difficult and so incredibly solitary. It's the age old chiche - why do bad things happen to good people? I want an answer to that one. Logically I know that was is is. It happened, it's over. Now get on with life. But every part of my life is permeated by this. My ability to reason, love, nurture - all is tainted by the all-defining moment. I can't even type the damn word.

There is nothing left to do but to wait. Wait for the healing that comes with time. Hope that I haven't said too much. And try to unclench my hands one finger at a time.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Good Day

Some days it seems as if the stars and planets are all aligned. I reach the end of the day, and I'm tired, but in a good way. Tired because I did good work. Tired because the work I did felt worthwhile to someone outside of just me and even just of my clients.

Mondays are mostly days I spend a good part of my day in juvenile court. Mostly i am the guardian of kids that are caught up in court cases that are supposed to be about them, but hardly ever are. Today I got to see a girl i first met back in August. She is not all at once lovable. She is belligerent at times, defiant and not at all the cute, cuddly kind of kids that seems to be most of my caseload. She's 14, and a chronic truant. (She doesn't want to go to school) When you read her file, you can't help but weep for the pain in those pages. No wonder she could care less about her public education. I've spent some time with this girl outside court. I immediately identified with her, and so I took her with my kids to a Halloween event last fall. She dressed as an angel, and forgot that she was a sullen teenager for a couple of hours. She fell in love with my 2 year old son, and he thought she was something too. He kept calling her "Sugar" and she giggled like the little girl she still is. She's made quite the turnaround in the past 6 months. It was so good to bring the court good news about her. She smiles now, and I hope that when she's 20 and 30 and 40, that she will be ok. I don't know if she will, but I'm hopeful today. These kids are gifts to me. I get to see the best in them, and point it out to the Judge. I get to be supportive, cheer them on, cry with them, try to understand them and ultimately tell them that it will be ok, even when i don't necessarily believe it will be. I can't fix anything, and I have no great knowledge to impart to them, but I can care for them. And every now and again, when the stars and planets are aligned, they do make it. They get adopted by loving families. Their parents get it together and are able to take care of them again. They learn to like themselves despite all they've lived through.

It was a good day.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

New Beginning

I first blogged (I still don't like that word) when i started out losing weight about 18 mos. ago. Unfortunately I can't even recall much about what I wrote or what I was thinking at the time...selective amnesia perhaps.

I'm in a different place, and seemingly a vastly different time now. I've dropped most of the excess weight - save that last 30-40 lbs that hangs on tight. But, I've discovered that I'm opening a new age in my life.

Blame it on Thomas, that blessed man who had his own doubts so painful that he couldn't hold them in, and God save him, that's all most of us remember about him. For reasons I can't explain adequately his story hit me like a ton of bricks recently. I can't explain it, I'm rendered inarticulate. For someone as wordy as me, well that's tough.

Since that day I have prayed continually the call to worship prayer's opening lines - "God Almighty, to you all hearts are open, all desires known and from you no secrets are hid"... Because in fact, I feel just the opposite. I feel closed off, unable to speak what is hidden, the secrets that are deep and wide and set me apart from other people and from the relationship I crave with a God that seems as if He has run the other way. And crave it, I have discovered I do. More so with each breath. And so I pray, and wait. For that seems to be all there is to do right now.

I visit the rivers almost every day. The place where the two great rivers converge. I feel a draw there, though not one I'm able to explain exactly. The silence I find there is soothing, and helps me to see more clearly. The first time i went there I thought I would find something violent and dramatic. Instead what i found was simply water merging with water. But underneath the surface there is a violence that I know instinctively would take my breath away if I was swimming in it he middle of it. Recovering my instincts is part of this as well. Somewhere along the past 15 years I have taught myself to distrust my instincts - and that's never a good idea for a woman who is a survivor.

The other part of my draw to the water is that I hope to lose the fear I have of change at this stage in my life. And slowly my fear is abating. Slowly, flowing out to the sea. Above all I'm beginning to understand that everything will be ok. Change will come at the rate it will come, much like the river, and I can only bend like the river to the will of the Creator. Flowing into whatever lies ahead, trusting that the Plan can contain me. All of my fears, all of my insecurities and pain, but mostly all of my hope.

Perhaps the most startling part of this new beginning is the unearthing that has come with it. My emotions seem so raw and ever-present, just barely being contained beneath the surface. Experiences that I have long since dealt with and moved past or through, are seemingly in my face. Today my car just sort of steered its way to an old place that haunted me as a child. I can't articulate why or how or what I thought would come of this, I only know I didn't feel I had any other choice but to go there.

There is the summary of the beginning of this journey. I have no other choice but to travel the road. I feel compelled to do so, and despite my misgivings, and stumbling, I am acutely aware of the relationship with God and with other believers I so desperately want. And now it is simply a matter of opening my hands, accepting the gifts for what they are, gifts of a loving Father who indeed knows all the secrets I think I have hidden away and yet still desires the loving relationship more than I can ever understand.