I’m sure you’ve heard it before; when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. I never dreamed, in a million years that I would become a paralegal. Looking back, as a child, I imagined myself married to a military man with a respectable career and being the best domestic engineer on the planet dreaming of our retirement years living in a house in which we raised our children. I was concerned of course that I didn’t know how to sew or bake, but I figured I would pick up the skills somehow. Amazingly, my mother didn’t teach me to do these things. Her direction in my life was always, “You can be (or do) anything you want honey.” Sadly, this is a lie all too commonly said to many children. I can’t be a fighter pilot, for example, my poor vision wouldn’t permit me; I can’t be a deep sea diver because my inner ear won’t let me; and I can’t be a fireman because I can’t drag that hose OR hold it down with the water pressure kicked on full blast – yes yes, I see female firefighters, but they are the brunt of the jokes with the males ones and quite frankly, I have serious doubts they can pick up and toss an unconscious man over their shoulders and haul them down a ladder from a burning building – ain’t gonna happen!
My point is, here I am. After a nasty divorce following an equally nasty marriage to a psychopath, I find myself having to feed three young children with only my merits and marbles and no child support. Could he go to work and make a decent life for his children with his degree in science and his active physician license? ABSOLUTELY!! Can I or a piece of paper a judge signs make him? Nope!
I’ve come quite the distance through this divorce. I remember how terrified and stressed I was in the beginning. I didn’t know or understand the system. I felt so overwhelmed at the time. I had no help (that didn’t co$t me a fortune) and no one could understand the specifics in my case. I had three little creatures to care for and feed, rent and other bills to pay and a job to maintain all while fighting a narcissistic psychopath (I didn’t know it at the time) in court.
Slowly, but very surely, my friends all turned and walked away; some flat out turned and became vehement enemies accusing me of lying about my abuse and situation. It was extremely hurtful, tragic and, at times, blatantly unfair how some of these people behaved towards me. I had very limited, if any funds, available to me to retain legal assistance and not many people to rely on for any kind of help.
While juggling all of this dramatic burden, I had to become my own legal force within the system. I turned over every legal stone, asked every question, posed every scenario, and exhausted ALL resources. I tried to read as much as I could when I could. I’m pretty good with forms, but I learned a lot by trial and error (literally by real courtroom trials too). Two and a half years later, I’m now helping my attorney at his law firm when, at one point, he probably wondered what the heck he got himself involved in once he accepted my case for a flat-rate. I am literally earning my retainer back sharpening my skills as a family law paralegal. I never, in a billion dreams, would’ve dreamed I would be feeding my children by earning income helping other people navigate through the court system and learning how to protect myself in future litigation.
Looking back, it seems like eons ago I set foot for the first time in my Commissioner’s courtroom barely able to tell him what I was doing there. Now, I’m hugging and chatting with the bailiff’s (from two different courtrooms) and cracking jokes with the clerks. I wonder what the judge thinks about this trembling lost lamb who walked in nearly three years ago and this empowered educated (now) flaming-red-headed chatterbox he sees now.
Make what you can out of what you’re given. It’s free and it’s yours to keep!