Friday, August 26, 2005

Not A Saint

  • Don't think I have posted this one yet.

  • What I did not mention in yesterday's post, talking about my job at the Women's Shelter was that I lost that job because of my alcoholism. I quit before I was told to quit. With the benefit of sober hindsight I can see what happened though. I simply was not reliable.

    I only missed one court date and it turned out okay - I mean it was not okay that I missed when I should have been available to people seeking help - just nobody happened to show up that day. I was late to work. I smelled like alcohol, I'm sure.

    Of course there is the ultimate hypocrisy: here I am, helping get abused women restraining orders to protect them from their abusers. That's Andy the saint. But Andy at home is an alcoholic. What do alcoholics do to the ones they love? We abuse them emotionally in a terrible way. Goddess was with me in those years because I never physically threatened my wife until my last night of drinking before I entered the 12 step program I am in.

    But the rank hypocrisy of me standing with these women in front of a judge, trying to get a restraining order because they are abused...

    Nope, no saint Andy thank you. I will settle for just being Andy. I like sober Andy; for the most part I am quieter, more thoughtful man. You know, my wife and I don't yell at each other any more. I don't mean never, very rarely we'll raise our voices, but it is rare. We listen to each other.

    As soon as you claim you are humble, you can be sure you are not, but I was humbled by my sobriety. That's a good thing.

    I do wish I had that job in the Women's Shelter today. It did not pay shit, but it was the most rewarding job I have ever had. I think now I could bring a maturity and emotional stability to the job that I simply did not possess then.

    Now, maybe someday I will tell you the story of running through Denver with the latina woman who spoke no English (I had no Spanish) from her abusive husband who showed up to contest the restraining order and how we hid in law libraries from him. It's an interesting story. Or about the time I took a mom in my car so we could kidnap her kids back from her spouse. That was nuts.

    Oh, wait, one last story before I go... I probably helped 300 women get restraining orders. A couple of guys in there too. Women abusing men is much rarer, but it does happen. I saw a lot of injured women. Almost always the abusers were big, muscular men. But I learned not to make assumptions about who was dangerous and who wasn't. The most violent case I was involved in involved a lesbian couple. The woman I was helping seemed (please forgive me if I use inappropriate terminology - my intent is to describe, not stereotype and if I fail the fault is mine) a little dykish to me. Close cropped hair, muscular, tall, broad shouldered. She had cracked ribs, a fractured leg, and had suffered all kinds of soft tissue damage. Her abuser had used a baseball bat and a hammer.

    Naturally I assumed her abuser had to be this super-dyke butch lesbian who would look like Schwartzeneggar. I have never been more wrong in my life. Her abuser turned out to be a petite, maybe 5' 4" tall thin little wisp of a woman with the cutest blonde hair and blue eyes and such a sweet smile. In court she was a polite and gracious as could be. But in the hallway she turned into a rabid weasel.

    "Needed a man to help you, huh?" she hissed at my client. "You filthy little cunt, I should have killed you."

    I have never been so taken aback in my entire life. I could not believe what I had just heard and how this cute little blonde morphed into a demonic hate monster in front of my eyes. Again, my client was much bigger than her abuser but she fell back against the hall wall at this onslaught. I did not blame her. It was like a horror movie how quickly the woman became this evil thing.

    The good news is this: the restraining order was granted and the judge wrote it very carefully to protect my client. I knew the judge in question pretty well by then and I knew full well that he disapproved of the idea of two women together. But I have to hand it to him. He saw right through the bullshit of the abuser and acted to protect my client and further warned the abuser that he was just waiting for an excuse to lock her up.

    So, I learned never to assume. That little blonde woman scared me more than any of the big hulking guys who showed up angry and vengeful. Never would have guessed it to look at her.

    Ya'll have a good day.