Long before it became Taylor Swift’s hit song, my best friend would “Shake it Off” anytime she was having a bad day, or simply found herself in a funk. This involved, quite literally, jumping around and shaking her whole body. Her claim: that you can’t help but smile when you’re jiggling around like a fool; and thus, you shake off your bad mood. While I’ve used her method several times and found it quite effective, I tend to be more of a “Write it Off” kind of girl, taking pen to paper or fingers to keyboard to dissipate whatever blues I may be feeling. And so, here I am.
This evening brings mixed emotions. There is a chance that the end of my week long birthday celebrations will bring with them the end of a very long journey through the legal system, as a plea hearing has been tentatively scheduled for Monday. There’s joy and hope that accompany the possibility that this aspect of the healing process may soon be over. There’s devastation and confusion that it may end with my assailant serving only minimal time in spite of the crime he committed. But mostly, there’s nothingness. How is one supposed to feel in this situation? I’ve found myself on the eve of a plea hearing, potential plea hearing, trial, and even jury selection, so many times that it seems impossible to muster the energy necessary to, yet again, consider the options before me.
The night I was assaulted, I was trapped in my assailant’s vehicle for three hours, with a deserted road and line of trees to my left and an endless field to my right. Assessing my situation, there seemed to be no good options for escape routes. Sometimes, in the midst of the ceaseless array of impossible decisions the criminal justice system throws at me, I feel pinned in the same position. The gamble of a trial, or a plea agreement that evokes a sentence that seems insignificant in comparison to the wreckage of the crime? Deserted road or field? How do you begin to choose? And when you do, how do you begin to feel confident you’ve made the best decision? Or instead, do you just decide, processing be damned, to make a gut decision and hope for the best, and then continue to move forward towards your new life? I opt for the latter.