As we stood outside the courtroom, it was clear where the lines were drawn. The divide in the room was less physical, as the space was small, but it was a mental and emotional chasm as large as the Grand Canyon. My attorney had told me to be prepared for an emotional outburst from my mother. My attorney warned me that my father might become overly warm and try to entice me to “drop this whole charade”. About my father, she was correct. As soon as we crossed the threshold from hallway to courtroom, my father turned on the charm and charisma. He held the door for me and as I passed, the jerk actually smiled. We took seats in the small gallery and by virtue of it’s lack of chairs, my father stood behind me. When my attorney went to the counsellor’s table behind the gate, my dad put his hand on my shoulder and patted it reassuringly. The judge, hearing another case, looked up just as my father did this and I thought, surely, my case was sunk. Here was this girl trying to run away from such a loving, concerned father, right? No judge would see through his gesture to the controlling message the gesture betrayed. No judge would see his smile for the manipulation it was, right? I had been trained by years of brainwashing to believe that the world would always see my father as a righteous man.
My attorney returned to the gallery area and softly confronted my father. Asking him to take his hands off me and step away. He acted hurt, but obeyed. My mother sat staring straight ahead this entire time. She didn’t look at me. My heart ached for her and my resolve started to dip. I knew that by continuing this, I was putting her in harms way. I knew she couldn’t look at me because of his orders.