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The Courts – Part Twelve – Conclusion

After our time on the stand, it was clear that my father prevailed. How could he have not, with all of the perjured testimony? I was left with no other alternative but to accept the label as a juvenile delinquent. Meanwhile, Jay’s win caused him to smile wide; his snowy white, straight teeth gleamed bright as freshly polished ivory, and his soul, as dark and dull as ebony. My poor mother, left with no paper towel to wring, sat on her hands, and stared blankly forward, as if numbed by what had just happened; unaware of her own victimization.

After some legal jargon between the judge and attorney, the judge spoke to me,“Young man, are you aware of the severity of your actions?”

Defeated, depressed, and drained, I replied, “Yes, sir.” And I really did. I knew right from wrong. I was stuck in the middle of having to do wrong in order to escape wrong; there’s got to be some good in that.

Some papers were shuffled, and again, the judge spoke.

“Now, it was my first choice to send you to another detention facility, but I can’t see how that will provide you the help you need. After reviewing the case further, and at the request of your social worker, Ms. Murphy, it is my ruling that you will reside at Charter Academy in Mobile. There, you will receive the counseling which will prove to be of the utmost importance to your success as an adult member of our society. You are to be packed and ready to check into the facility immediately,” he ordered.

And so it was, by the pounding of the fine wooden and brass gavel that destiny would alter the path of my life…in a good way, thanks to Lola Murphy.

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The Courts – Part Ten

 

Everything after that meeting seemed to have happened so very quickly, bringing with it a circus of events that would follow. Lola filed endangerment and abuse charges against my parents, and a court date was set. Life in our household during this time is such a blur, I can remember how terribly nervous my mother seemed, and how scared I was about the outcome. I never wanted her to have to endure the stress of such an ordeal, but it was my life we were dealing with here; my well-being. And I was a being that was not well, at all.

During this time, my father quit physically abusing me, instead, he used verbal and mental attacks against me to break the little bit of spirit Lola managed to provide me. He blamed me for tearing the family apart, and turned my sister and my mother against me. Even though both of them witnesses the abuse, and were abused themselves, they sided with Jay.

You see, my father was the kind of person who, if you didn’t agree with him, he made you feel guilty to the point of being exiled by ostracism. My mother and sister knew this and so they went along with anything that Jay said, fearing his disapproval. Disagreeing with him came with dire consequences. It was hard for me to take, but I was so used to it that it was an expected reaction.

My mother’s spirit had been broken years ago, she was an already molded piece of fucked up art, carefully shaped by a fucked up artist. I don’t think my sister was even aware that she had a spirit, hers was enthralled in school activities and friends. She smartly avoided as much of the drama as she could.

More closed door meetings occurred with my parents, where, I’m sure, my father was drilling my poor mother with psychological warfare and coaching her on what to say and how to react during our court appearance. He was determined to win this fight and would stop at nothing to succeed. I watched helplessly, as my mother’s mental state declined; that too was blamed on me. I’m sure she cried herself to sleep on many nights before and after the incident.

I had a few private meetings with Lola before the court date, during which she explained to me exactly what to expect. She knew, given previous history, that my mother would protect Jay, and had a plan to combat her denial. She told me about a facility in Mobile, Alabama called Charter Academy of Mobile, where I would be safe, and get the counseling that I needed. She went on to explain that I would live at the facility until my eighteenth birthday, making it legal for me to leave the poisonous environment Jay built, after I was released.

“So, it is a school?” I asked.

“Well, kind of,” she replied, and went on, “Charter is a psychiatric facility with experts who are there to help at-risk kids get the help they need, but it is set up as a school. Think of it as a boarding school, pretty neat, huh?”

“Well I don’t understand why I have to go away to some psycho ward,” I said, disappointed.

“Shawn, if your mother protects your father, which we both know she will do, the courts will deem you a delinquent. It will be your word against theirs, and you have had a recent history of delinquent behaviors. The judge could send you to a jail-like environment, where you do not belong. Charter is a very nice psychiatric facility, where you will be amongst other kids who have similar issues and problems. There are counselors who will help you understand the reasons your father treats you the way that he does, and they will help you make the transition from the unhealthy life you’ve lived into one that is happy and livable.”

“So it will be me going to a mental hospital when it should be my father?” I asked, realizing the unfairness this whole thing might bring.

“Well, Shawn, we both know who the one that needs to go is, but it isn’t up to us, it will be up to the judge. All we can do is to tell the truth and the cards will fall as they do.”

“I’m not crazy though, Lola.”

“Shawn, you have to trust me. I would not recommend sending you somewhere if I wasn’t one-hundred percent sure that it was in your best interest,” she told me with a sincere look about her face. “We both know you aren’t crazy, but this place is our only alternative to boot camp, or worse…and trust me, you don’t want to go to either! You have been mistreated for a long time, this place will help you get to the root of the problem, and will guide you in a direction that will help you maintain a productive adult life.”

At this crossroads of my life, it is my father who I thought should be made to pay for all of the years of torment he brought to our family, but my hands were tied; I was vulnerable. I had to accept the situation as it was.

In just a short period of time, I would be the one who would wind up exiled and ostracized. The court date loomed, as a vulture waiting for a car-struck armadillo to finally die.

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The Courts – Part Six

After my stint at the detention facility, I was released into my parents’ custody. Jay had a satisfied look about him, as one may have after winning the biggest prize at the carnival, when they arrived to pick me up. It gave him great pleasure to know I was troubled. I do not know why, but it did.

The court ordered two monthly meetings with Lola. Generally, my mother would take me. Jay wanted nothing to do with it. During these visits, we would discuss life issues, and such things. As usual, the first few weeks spent with my father was bearable and I had nothing derogatory to say about him. Of course, you should realize that Jay knew our family life would be under a microscope while the courts had their finger in the pie and was on his best behavior. Luckily for me, his best behavior wouldn’t last very long at all.

During one of these meetings I was scheduled to see a psychologist, where I was diagnosed with acute and severe depression, self-esteem issues, and suicidal tendencies. I don’t believe this was a surprise to anyone.

Noting this, Lola recommended me to be a participant in an upcoming study. Jay signed the consent form, I’m sure the pen moved against his will, but he signed it, none-the-less. It was a trip for at-risk adolescents with esteem issues, and was funded by a Mississippi university. The group was headed by a professor of psychology and her team of students. There was a mix-match of subjects, six of us, if my memory suits me, all having and dealing with their own issues.

We could tell, right off the bat, that this was going to be a fun trip and quickly became a unit. To my elation, Lola was one of the social workers on the team. We were on our way to Tennessee to go camping, where we would participate in some esteem-boosting exercises. We drove a large white van, with a trailer holding all of our camping gear. During this trip “Don’t Worry Be Happy”, by Bobby McFerrin, was a hit that we quickly owned. When the song played on the radio, the volume was turned up, and we sang it out loud. It sounds so tacky these days, but it is how it was.

It is through this study where I would climb a mountain and repel off of the same mountain once I reached the top. Yup, little ‘ol me climbing a mountain. Take that to the bank and cash it, will ya! We also went spelunking during this trip. My memories are happy of these times and my main memory is that climbing the mountain was easy, but I froze when it came time to repel, though. I can still hear the calls from my camaraderie’s:

“C’mon Shawn, you can do it!”

“But I’m afraid I’ll fall!” I cried out in fear.

“We won’t let you fall!”

“You’re safe!”

“C’mon down!”

“Just take the first step, don’t look down, just do it!”

“…but.”

“We know you can do it or we wouldn’t have brought you all this way, c’mon Shawn!”

I finally made it down the mountain, and to the awaiting praises from all of my peers; my friends. If you are dealing with your own esteem issues, go climb a mountain!

The trip came to an end and my life resumed, somehow better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Courts – Part Five

Eventually, I was assigned a case worker, Lola, who would turn out to be the staunchest supporter I had ever known. She would also become that special kind of friend anyone needs when going down a yellow brick road; corroded and crumbly.

She began slowly working with me to get to the root of the problem that had sent me to her. She was tough as a Marine Corp. drill sergeant, yet had a gentle, almost motherly quality about the way she counseled me. We began our visits at a sterile, stainless steel round table with five welded chairs around it. They were inmate day room tables by day, and councilors offices afterwards.

I was so nervous at first, and I told her I was. Even through unspoken words, though, it must have had to have been clear to see.  She told me, “You can put a Band-Aid on any old wound, but to be completely healed of it, a lot of honesty, and talkin’s gonna  have to happen,” and went on with her deep southern drawl, “Plus, as part of your court-ordered visit here at the detention center, you are forced to talk,” she reminded me; teasing-ish.

One thing was for certain, I was to the point where I would no longer accept the treatment I was receiving from Jay. It was time to finally come through and tell of the years of abuse, both physical and emotional (Just as before I had done, but to deaf ears.). He’d gone on too long getting away with it and I was through taking it. I was going to use this medium to finally break free from the man who bludgeoned my soul, my well-being, my self-worth and my trust.

I slowly and shyly began from the top and told her of the turmoil’s of life at my house under the control of Jay; the abuse, the name-calling, the alcoholism and all of the horrors that came with that. I told her of the denials my mother faced and how my father had brainwashed her into believing the treatment we all received was normal, and as it should be.

I let her know I was aware of his abuse for some time, but felt like the signs were ignored by the very people who could have helped me. She believed in me and turning the other cheek was not on Lola’s menu at that time. Her rosy cheek caught the fluorescence of the lighting and sparkled like glitter, on my hope. I finally had someone on my team. I can’t begin to tell you how safe it made me feel. The stainless steel table/chair combo became what I looked forward to each day I was locked up. Hard as steel, but a comfort like nothing I’d yet experienced.

Of course we talked about my behavior and how it infected a relationship that was prone to infection from the very beginning. I told her of New Orleans and Houston, but, somehow, she understood. Some of my actions she obviously was opposed to, but, she whole-heartily felt me.

Life for me at the detention facility was bearable, and I looked forward to the meetings I had with Lola; not so much for mealtimes. She promised me she would take care of me and I believed in her. Like all humans, the more time we spent with each other the more she learned and the more we bonded.

Even though I broke the law and got myself into that mess, the reason behind it all, would soon come roaring out.

 

 

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