As a young child I spent a lot of time alone. Alone time for me was playing in my closet with chocolate milk and a Ziploc sandwich bag. Playing time for me meant escaping the sound of my parents failing marriage. Eventually after some time my mother figured out my father was having an affair and they got divorced. Now being a child of divorce meant “splitting myself” between my parents, which turned into me discovering which parent I, liked more. The choice between parents was a process that took years, years I should have been worrying about what friends I wanted to invite to my party. Through these years I realized the lack of verbal language in myself and at the same time the power of my language.
The day before the custody hearing was not a pleasant one. The goal was for me to end up living with my father and my stepmother at that time I was living with my mother. She passed by me in the upstairs hallway and just stopped and said, “After this day you will no longer have a mother”. I walked away and took what she said and dealt with it as if it did not really happen. The next morning we drove down to the courthouse. We walked up the steps together in stride not knowing we would leave without one another. Finally we entered the courtroom, which was a brief trip for me because I was then whisked away into the judge’s chambers. He was in the courtroom with my parents for about a good twenty minutes, which allowed for my nervousness and anxiety to marinate. He came in decked out in all black. He was a rather small man about 5’5. He sat down and I watched him gather papers, flip through them and then look at me. He looked at me and then asked me questions about my life with my mother. I answered. I had never had someone ask me such personal questions about my thoughts and feelings.
As a child I was never asked about my feelings or thoughts by anyone and that lead to self-containment. The day of the custody hearing changed all that. After the judge finished with all of his questions he asked me “Well Jasmine who do you want to live with”? I looked at him for a while and then straightened up and said, “I want to live with my father”. He once again shuffled his papers and left the room. I left the room with my father, a new discovered voice, and my belief in the power of language.
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