I am a firm believer that every day offers a lesson, something new to learn, an opportunity to grow, if we bother to pay attention, of course. Oddly enough, I’ve found county courts offer plenty of said opportunity.
I encourage anyone who can attend at least one court case to witness the process. I’ve noted scout troops, in attendance, as well as a family of four. It offers an opportunity to see the judicial process, but it is more than that, and there is one case that I wish had been attended by others due to something said to a defendant.
“You’ve credibility,” said the judge to an individual plagued with decades of alcoholism, the struggle for sobriety evident. They had walked the walk, and could now talk the talk, use their experience to help others. It struck a nerve.
How many of us have walked the walk but fear the credibility to talk about it? I’ll give a quick example. When I returned to school a decade ago, it was to become a family counselor with an emphasis on divorce counseling.
Unfortunately, or perhaps, fortunately, when the time came for my studies to focus on primary areas as opposed to the application of psychology across several key areas, I panicked. I wasn’t sure if I had not so much the ability to help anyone but the credibility, the right. So, I took a different route. I went for the next best thing I am a sucker for—work psychology.
I can’t say that day in court was the first time I had this school-related thought. I have considered starting over or at least a return to the family counseling courses. I’m not dead (at least as of this sentence … ) and what’s a little more debt, right? I always joke with my spinoffs that I’ll be dead well before my school bill ever gets to zero. I am a Gen-X living the indebted life of a Millennial, but it was worth it. It was so worth it. You can put that on my gravestone and leave a dime in the tin cup attached to it. (Please note my dearly departed self will also accept checks and all major credit cards, too, thank you very much!)
Is divorce similar to that of alcoholism or drug addiction? I can’t say. It’s not something I’ve walked. However, I know divorce shapes lives in a variety of ways. For me, it forced a change in perspective and a particular empathy I did not know existed, but I’ve never been sure about credibility.
I think it is the word that trips people up, credibility. It is not so much about a license to help or directing people but the credibility factor to talk, to share, or perhaps to write about recovery. Whatever the recovery is because, as the judge would go on to say, “Everyone is recovering from something. Everyone’s got something. Just don’t forget where you came from.”
I don’t know how many others are paying attention in their day to day life, but I’m taking notes at a furious pace because the world works in mysterious ways. I like to think I’m paying attention when the world challenges my thinking, my perspective — are you?
Bethany J. Royer-DeLong is a reporter for the Daily Advocate and Early Bird and a life-long resident of Darke County. She holds a bachelor’s degree in work psychology and a master’s degree in organizational leadership because she’s a sucker for all things jobs. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.