My first jury duty notice came while I was in the midst of my own trauma struggles and my trauma struggles started soon after the experience of testifying in court against police who I witnessed almost beat a man to death.
This experience also allowed my subconscious to bring to my attention repressed memories that I testified in that same court room against my perpetrator when I was 9. The visions came back, the feelings came back and the recognition of the same underlying triggers came back.
So, as I fought to regain my strength from the reactions of not just trauma but of my strong hypersensitive feelings of others to control me, my fight was long and hard. As I began to recognize my triggers and heal, the last thing I needed though was to spend time in a court room where power and control are the guiding force. I did not want to experience the judicial process that failed me not once, but twice.
My recognition of untruths, abuse of power and control of authority especially when the police we want to trust, tell mistruths to save their careers at the expense of not only my own wellness but someone’s life. Certainly this wasn’t the time to for me to handle all of this even as I received many more jury notices in the mail.
As I grew more aware, stronger because of my wellness and crisis plan, I am finally strong enough to not call my Dr. or therapist for a note to be excused from participating in this experience of being a citizen to help the process of others who are at battle in their lives with the justice system.
So, as I put away my past experiences and fears, understand my wellness as well as many of my triggers that were causing my anxiety and feeling like I was standing on the edge of a cliff, I am finally in control of the logic to help me attend the jury process for the first time in my life.
We have power in knowledge and for me, knowledge helps me keep control and this is what is allowing me to walk in the path of my triggers. What I didn’t anticipate is the sensory overload of being in a room with about 150 people where I was unsure of the process of this jury experience.
I am aware of my common action plans of level thoughts, perceptions and not judging that anyone here is going to hurt or control me or be rude and inconsiderate, instead I will try to make contact with some who I might want to start a conversation with, and after all I am comfortable with that.
I do though have to understand how I will deal with the ignorant people of talking on their cell phones and talking loud amongst all of us and so far this has been the biggest challenge for me as we all wait for them to call our name in an environment similar to a library.
I have my laptop to help ease my anxiety as we all wait for our names to get called and go to the courtroom to be a potential juror. I also have books and my crisis plan with me in case I feel like I am starting to get very anxious and feel overloaded and have to be taken to an ER because of dissociation.
Then the time comes where my name gets called and everyone watches as I walk to the front of the room to get in line with others who are called and I can see in their faces the thoughts of relief that it is not them.
The silent walk with others now gives us something in common, we will all be questioned about a jury case but for me it means so much more. It means the anxiety of entering a courtroom with the same wood paneling, the same layout of the courtroom, the judge’s desk sitting higher than the rest of us and it means the men in suits who watched each and every one of us enter the courtroom and them judging us without even knowing us. It means authority, judgment, control and for me it brings back flashbacks, memories and fear.
The time has come as we all sit in the courtroom, what do I do, what do I say to myself and how will I handle this and not cry. The moment has come and the moment has gone and I must have said all the right things to myself to be able to sit there and not feel the anxiety. I am not sure what I said to myself but I did it and I realized, yes, I can do this!
Then, I was called up to talk to those men in suits, the man in the robe and looked them all in the eye, yes me, looked those men with authority and control in the eyes and answered their questions. Although I could not afford to do the lengthy jury responsibility that they asked of me at that time, what I did realize is that, I did it!
I was feeling so good about all that I accomplished in this full day of fear of my emotions and anxiety that once crippled me, I almost cried. This also allowed me to realize the incredible transformation I made and couldn’t wait to share this experience with my family.
I drove home telling myself this new piece of my transformation is even more of a message of what I am supposed to be doing because of my struggles. I not only faced the dragon of fear, I slayed it, and now I am looking forward to seeing my juror notice in the mail and hopefully will be able to experience what it means to be in a part of the courtroom where I can make a difference.