“All I’m saying is, it’s living that takes courage. In my experience, the hero who charges the machine-gun nest is sometimes the guy who didn’t have anything to go home to. To me, the real hero is the guy who goes home to face whatever life hands him, no matter how tough it might be.”
The above quote is from Third Degree, a novel by Greg Iles. I finished reading the book last night. It isn’t an easy story to live with because it presents a great many of those really hard questions we all face if we are doing as the character says, facing off with whatever life hands us, no matter how tough it might be.
I spent part of the morning, yesterday, in a courtroom. I was there in support of a friend who was being accused of abuse by her adult daughter. Talk about tough. I was there for two main reasons. I don’t believe my friend is an abuser, and I, myself, have faced similar accusations. We live in a world where this is neither a rare or uncommon occurrence. But, it is certainly one that can and does leave scars on everyone involved.
The charges against my friend were dismissed. There was no celebration. Now, we must all wait to see if the daughter will appeal that decision and that is anyone’s guess, at this point. What makes this even tougher is that my friend adopted her daughter when she was no more than a three-month old baby. The young woman has had difficulties throughout her life with issues of mental instability, something that couldn’t be foreseen at the time of the adoption, but circumstances that my friend dealt with for well over twenty years, as she tried to get the help her daughter needed, and stuck by her through the ups and downs of a continued diminishing level of hope for resolution.
By Iles definition, my friend is certainly a hero. I strongly doubt, however, that she feels that way about her own person. Being in that courtroom was not a simple or easy thing to do. The awareness of the pain that coursed just below the surface of all those alleged facts had to touch each individual present. They certainly impacted on my person, bringing up memories and feelings I thought were long behind me.
And, of course, I wrote about some of that in my journal pages this morning. Am fairly certain that will not be a one-time endeavor. However, finding the Iles’ quote last night, did give me another perspective to explore, both intellectually and emotionally. I am not speaking about the concept of being a hero, but that one about staying and confronting whatever life deals us.
I couldn’t help but think of how my journal pages were an anchor during my own similar experience. They grounded me in a way that allowed me to face whatever was coming. They also contained facts that I might never otherwise have had at my fingertips. In a very real way, they were the justice that can be a crap shoot because it is dealt out by other human beings who have their own agendas and perspectives.
That isn’t to say that our justice system doesn’t work. Some of the time it does, but one can’t be guaranteed that in ones own case it will. That reality can turn up the volume of emotions to the point of implosion. As far as I know, my friend doesn’t keep a journal. She is however, meticulous about keeping records of any thing she deems significant. Records her lawyer used yesterday morning that resulted in a dismissal of all charges.
In my own situation, my journal pages were like a secret friend that accompanied me through my experience. Both past pages as well as those written through the experience itself. They allowed me to keep a somewhat clear head and that was far more important than anything else that might have been occurring during that time period.
That isn’t to say there were no scars. There were, and they were felt while I sat in that courtroom yesterday. But, I do know what to do about them and have already begun that task and will continue as long as that is necessary. At least I know that with the help of my secret friend, I can stay and face the healing of those scars. There is a great deal of comfort in that knowledge.
My daughter and I now have a good relationship and a stronger bond than I would have thought possible. And again, I am sure that my journal pages were a supportive friend through that process. They kept me alert and aware throughout our own experience and were invaluable in keeping me focused on what I considered the ultimate goal, rather than the emotional pain of any one given moment.
Do you have a friend in the justice department? Isn’t it about time you allowed yourself that very priceless element as you stand to face whatever life throws in your path?