FCR 07: Back to court with a mission
photos from the courthouse visit I didn't want to make
Hi UMA readers,
Today’s post is a personal one.
Last fall, when I found out I won the Creative Capital award that would make this longtime Family Court project dream a reality, my shock and excitement almost immediately gave way to dread.
There was one errand that this The Unwed Mother Agenda endeavor would require of me that I didn’t know if I could do: I would have to return to court and get a copy of my full Family Court case record.
I have been wanting to do this…needing to do this…avoiding doing this…have been terrified of doing this…literally physically ill even thinking about doing this…for years.
That case record includes all of the motions, declarations, and hearings from the most vile parts of my life with my son—a horrible, seemingly endless legalese account of clawing through a broken system for so many years in order to try to protect us both from his biological father.
The exhibits alone are enough to make my throat close up and my heart break in half.
But I did it. The week before last, I put on my hard pants and tied back my hair, and with my wife Keri literally and symbolically carrying this very heavy load with me, I went back to the place that’s caused me more pain than any other place on earth, and I walked out the door with the monster that’s been relentlessly taunting me wrapped in giant rubber bands, contained—fully, completely, safely contained—in a 5,000 sheet printer paper box.
Bless the staffers working the Copy Center desk that day who were so organized and generous with their tech help and form explanations—especially the tattooed Asian guy wearing chains with his black t-shirt, who boxed up all my papers so neatly and pretended not to notice I was crying. He said he’d been working at that court office since the 90’s, and that he was probably there when I came in before all those years ago. I was too overwhelmed then, but I could look for the helpers now, and there they were.
To this project’s recent supporters, I’m looking at you too. Those copies of my case files cost $625.45. Thank you so much. Your paid subscriptions are lightening this burden too, right along with Keri carrying that huge box down the street with me as we left the courthouse, triumphant.
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For now, that box containing the hardest shit I’ve ever been though is sitting in the corner of my office with the lid on, far away from the sanctuary of my home, far away from my son. The next step, of course, will be to go through it all as I prepare to write my part of my story for The Unwed Mother Agenda.
In the meantime, I’ll be building back up everything that’s brave and illogical in me. Thank you to all of you who are along with me for this ride—especially Keri, forever and ever and ever. This is the hardest work I’ve ever done and there’s no way I could be doing it alone.
Here’s a glimpse into my day back at the courthouse, doing the thing I didn’t know if I could do. All photo credits go to my favorite Instagram Girlfriend, except for the last one. ⬛
Everyone deserves to be safe. If you or someone you care about is experiencing domestic violence, you can find free and confidential help and resources through The National Domestic Violence Hotline. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or text “START” to 88788.