trials and rewards

“Yes, I do know alot about you and I am not sure there is anyone else alive that loves, admires and respects you as much as I do.”

“You’ve always been the strong one in this relationship. You’ve always been strong for me. Now, for the first time, I want to be the strong one for you.”

“You know what? I’m just going to start telling people you’re my sister because you’re not just Jay’s cousin and you’re so much more than a friend to me.”

When I look at each of those statements on it’s own I think ‘Wow, those are beautiful things to say.’ When I look at each of those statements and think about the three different people who said them to me over the past two weeks, I am touched to my core and have been almost numbed with awe.

My cousin Jenny (who is now unofficially my sister) is going through her divorce trial this week. It has been brutal. For her. For all of us who have been present.

This lovely woman married into the family 16 years ago. I have loved her from the beginning. 

This trial thing has been much more difficult that I ever imagined. I knew it would not be a ‘cakewalk’ but still…the attitudes and behaviors of my family of origin are present in stunning technicolor and it is quite affecting.

As I have witnessed them parade on and off the stand and tell what they proclaim to be the truth, it has become crystal clear that the coping mechanisms I learned as a child are alive and well in the group I learned them from. It is obvious that they believe what they are telling even as I know their words are false. I was present when many of them were uttered originally and I do remember what happened on those occasions. Why do I remember them? Because they involved the children. I always remember the things that involve the children.

Jenny told me tonight that she feels defeated. She feels like she wants to say “Ok, you win. I quit. You were right. I was wrong.” but then she reminds herself this isn’t about her really. It’s about what is best for their son Matthew. Period. I reminded her that those feelings were Jay’s goal all along as abusers do what is needed to stay in control. I’ve told her all week that Jay’s stuff is Jay’s stuff and he is especially angry with her because she is the one holding up the mirror that he has to look into. It’s one thing to know that logically, it’s entirely another thing to keep that close emotionally. I know she is struggling even though it’s in a somewhat different way than I have been struggling.

She asked me today why I’m doing it then. Why am I there when it’s not my divorce and it’s not my issue. I told her I was there because she’d asked me to be there. Because she told me she felt supported by my presence. Because she was more than a friend and it was important that I be there for her. She hugged me and started crying. Poor baby. I love that chickie. No matter what Jay and the rest of ‘the family’ have said or will say, Jenny has been a fabulous mommy and she really only wants whats best for Matthew. She would willingly give that child up to his father if she believed for one moment that it was in his best interest.

While I wish I could fix it and make it better for her, I have to say that this has been eye opening for me. There are many times in the day that I remind myself I am not crazy. They are attempting to re-write history now just as they’ve done it before. It was real. This stuff between Jay and Jennifer and their children did happen. Just like the stuff I’ve been telling for 14 years happened. Jennifer didn’t make it up and neither did I.

How is it possible that four and a half days of testimony have seeped into my brain and made it necessary for me to type this out just so I can remind myself that what happened really happened. The psychology involved in this whole thing is astounding. It is a classic (to me anyway) example of programming and grooming at it’s finest. Abuse victims are groomed. They are conditioned. And no matter how much time has passed, it is quite simple to tap into it again. Which completely pisses me off.

The trial resumes on Tuesday. I am scheduled to be out of town. On a trip my oldest daughter has been planning for us since Christmas. In Vegas. She is so excited and I feel guilty about not being excited yet. I feel a strong need to see this trial thing to the end. And if the end is Tuesday, I cannot. I could never disappoint my daughter. If it was a matter of life and death, of course I could. But it isn’t. Knowing that doesn’t make it easier.

I will be there in spirit. I will spend the next few weeks regaining my equilibrium. I will remind myself again and again that I am not like ‘them’. I will remember that I am not crazy and I didn’t make anything up. I will find myself again and move forward again. I am learning more every day. And I am grateful.

For amazing friends.

For new sisters.

For beautiful daughters.

For remembering.

Who they are.

Who I am.



3 responses to this post.

  1. Good luck to Jenny, and God bless her. Custody battles are awful. My sister went through that years ago, and the stuff the lawyers came up with on both sides was not pretty.

    Meantime, you go off and have a fab time in Las Vegas. I am sure Jenny will not feel abandoned. She’ll know you are rooting for her.


  2. You relax and have a good time. You’ll have a lifetime to be there for Jenny. Meanwhile, the rest of us can all hold her in our hearts until this is over. Please tell her that. 🙂


  3. Posted by Boston Pobble on Saturday, March 22, 2008 at 10:45 am

    “Abuse victims are groomed. They are conditioned. And no matter how much time has passed, it is quite simple to tap into it again.”

    I would assure you that it doesn’t have to be simple to tap into it again. As victims move to survivors move to just…people, it changes. Really. I promise. Do the work and you *will* get to a point where they can’t touch you any longer. The work is hard. It has to be done. Still…it can happen.


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