Thursday, October 09, 2008

Chapter XX: a new goal

I must have fallen asleep at some point because the next day I found a well-spring of energy that propelled me into action. At some point during that long night I decided my marriage was not over. It could not be over. I wouldn't let it be over. Why? Because I was within weeks (maybe only a week) of going back to school and I knew a divorce would only knock me off my educational track even further. So, before I even saw Mitch again, I resolved to give him another chance, even though a part of me feared how he would spin the entire incident. 

I had been meaning to look for a new job that would be compatible with my school schedule so I called in sick at work and set about the hunt. My memory is fuzzy on the details of whether I already had an interview set up for that day or if I faxed enough resumes off from my parent's house that day to line up interviews the following day. 

What I do know is I should have been granted some sort of reward or honorable mention at least because the remainder of that week I pulled off a miracle. While my husband had a restraining order against him and was prohibited from making any contact with me, I pulled myself together physically and emotionally and went on job interviews. 

In registering for school I had finally found the courage to admit to myself what I really wanted to be when I grow up - a lawyer. I don't know when or how that seedling was planted but I know that it sprouted in those quiet days after my husband was arrested. Don't misinterpret the timing. I didn't have any noble intentions in this desire. I was not aware enough of my plight as a victim to be on a quest to assist battered women. Even now I have a hard time admitting I was victim of physical abuse because in my head I associate domestic violence with visible bruises, broken bones, blood, hospital visits and excuses about falling down the stairs. Other than a couple of bruises and Mitch's arrest, I didn't have visible signs of abuse to excuse away. I often fear my brief encounter with an abusive husband was so minor in comparison with the millions of battered women out there that I am unqualified to claim to be a survivor. Or, worse, I am completely humiliated by what it says about me to be an abused wife. Sometimes I claim my marriage was back in my "white trash" days because that is how he made me feel. Like trash. I felt stuck in some horrible stereotype I had mocked on television talk shows as I wondered why these women didn't just leave their bastard husbands! My resolve to go to law school was not inspired by noble aspirations to help other battered women, my resolve was inspired to help myself. I needed that goal for myself. Despite the fact I still had at least a year left in college, I needed a more concrete goal of where I was going.

So, while Mitch stayed with his brother and was barred from coming home by a court injunction, I took my first tentative steps toward a legal career and interviewed for entry level jobs with law firms. I had never worked in a law firm before but I could type and answer phones and I assumed anything was better than typing dictation in a corner. 

Although I do not think it was my first job choice, I vividly recall interviewing with a couple of lawyers who shared an office suite downtown. I dressed in my most professional outfit of black pants and a faux-silk white blouse that was too big for me and may have been missing a button on the cuff. I pulled the front ends of my hair up in a barrette and let the rest fall down my back. I sat across the conference table from these two lawyers as they examined my resume and joked with me. I answered their questions and laughed and wondered why I was still wearing my wedding ring. I feared they would see right through me and realize I was a fraud and shouldn't be allowed to work there. I told them I was thinking of going to law school and wanted some exposure to what being a lawyer was about. Like 99.5% of lawyers you will ever meet, they told me I should do something else. But after agreeing to be flexible with my school schedule, they hired me to answer their phones anyway. Almost immediately.

By the time I saw Mitch again, I was determined to stick with him through spring quarter of school and re-assess the situation in the summer. That way, I could dive back into school and still graduate the following year and take the LSAT in the fall. I had a plan, all I had to do was make it to June.


Tiffany said...

Amazing. You really are a great storyteller.

Angie said...

You don't know me. I'm a friend of Tiffany's, and so know you by association. I've followed this story and really think it's remarkable. I'm so impressed by how, after the night of Mitch's arrest, you set such a huge goal! And then you accomplished it. Most would have wallowed in sadness/hopelessness for a long time. Amazing.

lizzie said...

laller & laller, who's the caller?

michele said...

i still haven't set a goal for myself.

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