Two weeks have passed in a whirlwind of stress and work. Friday, July 29th, was the date of the preliminary hearing for the violation of my standing order of protection. There’s no need to belabor the point I made in my last post; suffice it to say that I spent most of the past three weeks in a dazed state of anxiety mixed with apprehension. Less than five hours of sleep a night for more than twenty days has really taken its toll. By Friday morning, I was a mess. Getting up, getting ready, heading out the door and to a place where I would potentially have to sit for hours in the same small room with my abuser was extremely difficult. I prayed for months that this would not happen again. I prayed that he would just keep his silence…keep his distance.
Seeing him again on Friday left me shaking; having to stand at the front of the courtroom less than ten feet away from him was hellish. Sometimes I wonder why it is that I’m still so frightened of him, but then I think back to that time of my life and the rage, violence, and instability that was the daily norm, and I remember…there is good reason for the fear I feel.
My attorney was unable to be present with me, so I requested an extension and a new court date. The judge was happy to grant that request; he remembered having heard my case last year. My abuser’s attorney also requested an extension, in order to “review some new evidentiary information” and “possibly reach a mutually satisfactory conclusion outside court.” Does that mean that they are going to request another mutual restraining order? I’m not agreeing to that. A mutual restraining order assumes a level playing field, as though I did something as horrible to him as he did to me. I never hit him. I never threatened to kill him. I never forced him to have sex with me. I never threatened to harm his children. There was no level playing field, and there would be no safety in agreeing to a mutual restraining order.
I am left feeling ambiguous about the outcome of the day. Sure, I got my extension, and my order of protection is in effect until the next hearing. But I also have to go on anticipating another day in court, another day of questioning. I can’t imagine what kind of “evidentiary information” they could have come up with. I haven’t had contact with my abuser since last year in court. I have not tried to find out anything about him - except to make sure he was not living in the neighborhood where I recently bought a home - and though occasionally people tell me rumors about him, I don't perpetuate those rumors. I am left wondering what kind of ridiculous allegations my abuser and his lawyer are going to make about me, and how I can possibly counter those accusations. My mind is racing and I can’t turn it off. Right now, around 36 hours after the hearing, I am exhausted. My emotions are raw, but I can’t get my mental wheels to stop turning. I have been pushing myself to the point of collapse physically just to be able to get six hours of sleep. I’m not sure how long I can cope.
On Friday morning, as I was showering and getting dressed for court, a song that I never sing or even think of popped into my head. It was an old hymn, and one I don’t particularly like – “God Will Take Care of You”. Only the chorus played through my mind, and as the morning wore on, I heard those words over and over, unbidden – God will take care of you; through every day; o’er all the way…he will take care of you; God will take care of you. And though normally this kind of ear-worm would have driven me crazy, I found myself listening and holding onto that thought, that no matter what happened, God would take care of me. No, I didn’t expect the heavenly hosts to ride in on white chargers and chariots of fire, and I didn’t expect a rousing defeat of my adversary. But I did – and do – believe that whatever happened, God would be there. And even though I hated every minute of the two and a half hours I spent in my abuser’s presence, I felt assured that I was not alone.
Tonight, as I write this, I am almost too tired to feel afraid. My eyelids are heavy and my fingers are clumsy – I am moving slowly and it is almost time for sleep. In the pit of my stomach there is a cold knot that tightens whenever I think of what is coming, but my heart is warm with the knowledge and surety of God’s loving grace. Fear is the opposite of love, and I know that ultimately, no matter what the outcome of the next hearing, love will win. God will take care of me – maybe not in the way I hope or expect, but that’s okay.