I have never hated an inanimate object before.
But I hate one now.
I hate a door.
It is a door to my courtroom.
There are 4 of them, but I only hate one.
One entrance to the court is a set of 2 doors in the front of my courtroom through which the general public enters. One is the door to the holding cells behind my courtroom.
But the one I hate is the side door.
It is the door to the left of my bench, and it leads to the hall outside my courtroom, which may take you to my office, to the break room, to the offices of all of the clerks, all the way up to the door which opens into the lobby.
It is the door that opened on June 22.
It is the door that I didn’t know was fixing to open.
I had no way to prepare myself that is was going to open.
And I had no idea that, when it opened, my heart would never function quite the same ever again.
I. Hate. That. Door.
I’m on the bench this week, and so, in order to protect myself, in order to do my job without emotion, in order to keep myself sane, in order to do what I know I have to do, in order to be good at what I do, I have put some barriers in place to help me do.
First, my clerks read a statement before I go into court that basically says: If you happened to want to offer condolences at the bench because of my daddy, please don’t.
It put everyone in my courtroom on notice, and that makes me feel safe.
If you don’t talk about it, I will not be consumed with it.
If you don’t talk about it, I will be able to focus on the task at hand.
And the task at hand is really important.
And I want to focus.
And I want to do my job well.
So if you don’t make me think about it while I can be distracted with the case before me, then I won’t.
Then, I can do.
But then, there is that damn door.
I covered up the window, so I can’t see out of it.
I put a small sign up over the covering that said, “If you need to see Judge Stacey for any reason while she is on the bench, please use the front door.”
But we are all really used to using that door.
It is natural.
It is faster.
It is easy.
And no one hates it but me.
So if it opens and closes during court, but I can pretty much monitor it.
If someone goes out of it, I know they will be coming back through it.
I can anticipate that, and I can be okay with the opening after the going.
I expect it.
Until I don’t.
And yesterday, I didn’t.
It opened, and I didn’t expect it, and I couldn’t breathe.
And I cried.
I didn’t even know I was crying until I was crying.
I didn’t want to cry.
I was in the middle of a hearing. I had a task at hand.
I was crying anyway.
Because the door opened, and I was back in that moment.
That moment just seconds before my whole life changed.
That moment just seconds before I became The Destroyed.
I have never even known if PTSD was real. Seriously.
I couldn’t understand it, because I had never experienced it.
Until the door opened.
And now I know it is real.
Now I know it is ugly real.
Now I know it is scary real.
Now I know that it is real real real.
And today, the door opened, and I was right back where I was on June 22, except it wasn’t.
Because when it opened on June 22, I didn’t know.
It wasn’t until I stepped through it that I came to know.
But now, I don’t ever want it to open…because now I know what could be waiting.
So I hate the door.
One of my clerks decided, after, that my sign just wasn’t good enough.
Now, it is florescent.
Now, it is in bold and explicit.
DO NOT COME THROUGH THIS DOOR.
I love her for making it bigger and brighter and bolder, because I didn’t know I could do that.
She did it for me.
They all did it for me.
I didn’t know if I could ever walk through that door again.
I didn’t know if I could sit on that bench again.
But the people I work with–all of them–made sure I could.
Some prayed over me when I didn’t think I could do it.
Some read my statement just because I asked them to, and they love me.
(Almost) everyone honored my wishes.
My Constable kept his eyes and ears sharp.
The deputies left through the front door.
The lawyers and probation officers and bail bondsmen who knew kept it all business.
Everyone made sure that I could.
They all did it for me, so that I could do it.
Because I didn’t know if I could ever walk through that door again.
Because I didn’t know if I could sit on that bench again.
But I did.
And then I didn’t.
But just for a few moments.
Just for enough time to pass to pull myself together.
Just to give myself enough courage to walk through it again.
And I did.
Because they did.
The door is always going to be there.
And the door is always going to lead me back to the second I became The Destroyed.
And every single time I go to work, I’m going to have to walk through it.
And every single time, I’m going to realize: I am a girl who hates a door.
But I can bear it.
Because of them, I can handle it.
Until it opens again.