Tag Archives: Suffering

Here’s to… my first legal job: Part 3

Toast to 2

As I read through the letter, I figured my friend and I had been dismissed for absconding work. Interestingly, it had only come barely four hours after us failing to show up at work. Even the legal provision cited did not hold any water. After getting over my shock, I wrote down a 9-paged letter in response, detailing my miserable experience at the office.

I also told him I had noticed his partner’s flawed perception of my friend and I, had ruined our previously good work relation; subsequently leading to our ill-timed dismissal.  By the time I was done, I could breathe easy. Writing had been therapeutic.

At first, I had contemplated not replying, but then I thought, I would not want anyone else to be treated the way I was. It was callous, to say the least. After everything, I told my boss I had accepted the dismissal because I had prayed for that job a lot, asking for guidance on the way forward. I believed this was God guiding me, and I wouldn’t fight Him.

A day after receiving the dismissal letter, I sent my reply to my boss and I copied his partner. That same evening, he sent me a very moving text, apologising for everything I’d gone through. I did not reply. The next day in the evening, he texted me again, asking if he could call me. I wasn’t sure I wanted to talk to him yet, so I did not text him back.

Thursday at around noon, I texted him telling him he could call. About an hour later, he called. At that point I was anxious because I did not know what to expect. I had already made peace with the dismissal and I was afraid he would tell me things that would agitate me all over again. Unexpectedly, during his call, he made admissions, subsequent to the recommendations I had made in my letter.

He admitted that he regretted sending the dismissal letter. Furthermore, he also admitted that it took my letter for him to realize how much influence his partner had on him. I did not want to think too much, whether his apology was genuine or not.

All I knew is that prior to the dismissal, I had made a decision to quit, so either way I would have left. Moreover, given that he was my senior, the fact that he lowered himself to a level where he was admitting he had greatly wronged me, is what made all the difference. I know how hard it is to say sorry, so the mere thought that he apologized was enough for me.

As I had mentioned, I had prayed a lot, asking God for guidance on the way forward because I had gotten to a point where I felt the job was taking a toll on me, physically and mentally. Therefore, much as I had not expected to receive a dismissal letter, I chose to think of it as Joseph’s predicament that landed him in Egypt. God used it as a way to uplift him.

If you’re wondering whether I forgave my boss, I did. He told me he’d had sleepless nights since I sent him my letter because the picture I had portrayed of him was not who he really was. He asked what I wanted him to do for me as a way of atonement, but I did not want anything. His apology was enough.

However, we both agreed I could not go back to the law firm because his partner was still working there and clearly we were not getting along. That said, he told me his partner would be sending an apology letter as well, but it is yet to pop up in my mail. Not that I’m expecting it though. It’s enough that she knows I condemn how she treated my friend and I.

I had made recommendations with regard to the changes I hoped my boss would make, for the sake of his staff, and he assured me he would. That was all I needed, because I knew, there would be people joining his law firm after my untimely departure, and I would not wish upon them, the treatment I had received. So as I contemplate my next move, I toast to my first legal job. It did not last as long as intended, but it taught me many things.

My lessons learned are: firstly, if you do not like the treatment you’re receiving at work or on any other forum, by all means speak out. Not for the sake of being argumentative or insubordinate, but because by doing so, you could be saving someone else; secondly, do whatever work you’re assigned in the best way possible, so that if you’re faulted for anything, you will confidently speak out against it; and, lastly, forgiveness heals. I am now at peace because I’m not holding a grudge against my boss and his partner. I did my part and left everything else to God.

Here’s to… my first legal job: Part 2

Earlier that day, my boss had arrived at the court late, and somehow thought it would be wise to put the blame on me. This was despite the fact that I had found someone to hold brief for him, requesting for the case file to be set aside. I had even notified him about it, detailing what had transpired in court in his absence, and even texted him the exact time the matter would be coming up again.

However, previous incidents of me shouldering blame for faults that were not mine had made me realize I could not continue carrying myself as a martyr. I would only, own up to my mistakes. Furthermore, stoicism wasn’t working for me, because the anguish was ravaging me, from the inside.

That day, a fellow colleague and I were summoned to my boss’ office, to be reprimanded for being incompetent. The lady partner was also present, and all she was doing was fanning dying embers. That is when it became vividly clear, what her intentions were. She did not like me one bit and she would do whatever it took to make my time there miserable as hell.

Unbelieving, and unable to fathom what was happening right in front of me, I explained to my boss all the concerns I had; all of which he seemed to understand. For the first time in a while, I felt the weight on my chest ease. I laid everything bare, detailing the instances they had faulted me for their own mistakes.

Afterwards, my boss went back to how he was in January; calm, and soft-spoken. However, that was not meant to last, as I would later discover. Two weeks ago, my colleague and I expressed our concerns about going to work amid the coronavirus outbreak, seeing how fast it is spreading and our work entailed filing matters in court and serving. On a good day I would spend about two hours in the office. The rest I spent out, running office errands.

The boss’ reply was, if we skipped work without leave, we would not get paid. Given what was at stake, I opted to pass on the money, and so did my friend. We even agreed to quit because the office was becoming too toxic. As my friend had put it, even other colleagues had started showing their true colours.

One thing I’m not sure I like about the legal profession, is that there’s a hierarchy, where someone is regarded, based on when they were admitted to the bar-‘seniority’. In layman’s term, it is an equivalent to how in the society young people are supposed to respect their elders. In this case, an ‘elder’ could be a twenty six year old, who was lucky enough to join the profession early, lording it over a fifty year old, who decided to become a lawyer after completing a PhD in an entirely different field.

Therefore, due to this concept of seniority, the ones at the bottom of the chain such as my friend and I, who are merely pupils, might end up getting overworked or maltreated by the rest. That is something my boss’ partner was keen on implementing, because she told my boss succinctly, that pupils should be the ones doing the bulk of the work.

This is what made my friend and I opt to skip work, given that most of the work assigned to us was clerical work, which ordinarily would be assigned to the firm’s clerk, or a certified process server. Next thing I knew, I was reading a letter of summary dismissal. Honestly, the letter caught me by surprise because I had not done anything to warrant dismissal.

Here’s to… my first legal job: Part 1

Toast to 1

Last year December was not a very good time for me, reason being, I was so anxious about starting my pupillage. See, I went for my interview in mid-August when I was still in bar school. At the time I was still preparing for my bar exams. Ergo, the mere thought of starting on a tasking job was automatically out of topic.

My supposed pupil master seemed so eager to send me on errands, even before I formally started working. Due to this, I feared once I started working, he would overwork me. I had heard several ‘horror’ stories about other students’ horrible experience during their pupillage, so that made me very cautious. I prayed I would not have one of my own to give after my pupillage.

However, when I reported to work in January this year, everything I had worried about seemed like an unnecessary fear. The first few weeks felt like heaven. Every evening when I got home, I would go to bed eagerly awaiting to rouse early the next day, so I could go to work. My job, actually felt like a dream job.

In late January my good work relationship with my boss  turned sour abruptly, and my ‘dream job’ became the sole cause of my anguish. I dreaded going to work, and whenever I sensed my boss’ presence, I would get knots in my stomach. I hated being at work, because every encounter with my boss was awfully stressful.

I bet one would wonder what I did to damage my once good relationship with my boss? Saddest thing is, even if I went back in time, I wouldn’t be able to change a thing; because all of that was not because of anything I had done.

See during the first few weeks, my boss’ partner was still MIA. I had only met her once during an end of year party I had been invited to by my boss. Funny thing is, my instincts told me she and I would have trouble getting along. Interestingly, at the time she had not done anything specific; it was just my intuition.

When she finally started showing up at the office constantly, she and my immediate boss started having constant impromptu meetings. Coincidentally, every time they met up to discuss ‘God knows what’, my boss would become visibly hostile towards me. My guess is, she had admonished him about seeming too friendly. Consequently, he started nit-picking, invariably blaming me for everyone else’s faults, literally. Sometimes I even got the weird feeling he was getting a kick out of making me miserable.

I know this might sound like I’m trying to ward off blame, but truth is, my personal work ethic dictates that when I’m working on something, I should give it my best shot. For the longest time, that has been my guiding principle. Even at the office, everything was running smoothly, until that lady showed up. Every time I found myself at the verge of quitting, I would ask God for the grace to push on; because my completion of the pupillage was, and still is, a prerequisite to me getting admitted to the bar.

After a careful deliberation, I decided to have a discussion with my boss. He had to know my perception of things, if we were to continue working together. Thankfully, I did not have to ask him to spare me a few minutes of his time; the opportunity presented itself in a very unprecedented manner.

When love flies out the window

 

When two people get into a relationship, hardly do they take time to contemplate the challenges that might arise if things go awry; at least most of us don’t…and even the few who ‘think ahead’ only do so with regard to finances and assets, hence the dreaded prenuptial agreements.

Earlier this month when I started my pupillage, my pupil master gave me some heads up, that in some instances I’d find myself looking for tissues to dry my tears when a client’s story got me all teary. Thankfully, I have read several cases, so I know how poignant a person’s experience could get.

Now that I’m being exposed to the practical side of a lawyer’s life, one thing I can confidently say is that breaks up can be awfully messy… and the worst part is, the ones who seemingly bear the mother-load of the brunt are the innocent children resulting from the relationship. Funny thing is, even legally they are referred to as ‘issues’, instead of children.

About a fortnight ago, I got to attend a negotiation, where an estranged couple were trying to reach an out of court agreement about how to have joint custody of their baby girl. As I watched the two split every holiday for the next seven years, I almost cried. I mean, here were two parents, who could not stand each other, but who wanted to be a part of their child’s life.

I have watched such incidences on TV countless times, but every time I comfort myself that the heart-wrenching scenes are all scripted. However, this was different. It was all real. There was an innocent child caught up in the murk. The case made me think of my own life. All through, I’ve watched my own parents fight and my mom’s sole reason for staying was because she wanted to ensure dad provided for us…basic needs and all.

I can say for a fact that living in a home marred by violence is damaging on so many levels; I have an anxiety disorder to show for it. On the other hand, having a child transfer from one school to another every year because their parents live in different localities feels equally traumatising for the child. Is there a lesser evil really?

As I sat through the negotiation, most of my concerns were about the girl. She needed stability in her life and that, didn’t seem like it would be happening anytime soon. Then there’s puberty, when a child is transitioning from childhood to adulthood. She would need someone to explain the physical changes taking place.

Silently, in the depths of my mind, I wondered which of the two unfavourable paths she would pick if she had a choice; her seemingly bleak one, or my anxiety-inducing one. I’m not sure there’s a better option between the two. What I’m pretty sure of however is that arguably, children suffer most when their parents fall out.

Gift of hope

Whatever you do, no matter the circumstances, don’t lose hope. All other virtues are premised on this one and this is in the sense that desperation makes us do things we wouldn’t ordinarily do. Desperation makes good people do bad things. For instance, hunger could make a person steal if they do not have better means of obtaining food.

Love as we know it, also stems from hope…A person whose heart has been broken so many times will be afraid of falling in love again because they are afraid of going through the pain that’s already too familiar, if things go awry. On the contrary, where someone has hope, they will embrace a potential love because they are hopeful things will turn out fine.

When things are not going on as well as we may want, what keeps us going? It’s hope; hope of seeing better days. Lately I keep reading stories about people who have come so close to taking their own lives because they were suffering from depression. From my understanding, hopelessness is what triggers suicidal thoughts.

While I may not have gotten to that point where I felt the urge to end my own life, I have battled depression before and I know, only too well, the state someone is usually in…one finds themselves in a situation where no single thought triggers happiness…everything feels bleak, and wherever one tries to comfort themselves that the future will be better, all they see are misery-laden days.

When someone wakes up every morning, feeling like they have nothing else to live for, hopelessness engulfs them and the next thing that prevails over them is the thought of ending their own lives. Hope strengthens our spirit to fight through unpleasant situations.

In life we can’t always be on an upward scale, because failure and pain are just an inevitable part of life; and I bet, this is where the saying, ‘it’s not about how many times you fall, but how many times  you pick yourself up’ arises.

My maternal grandma passed on five years ago, and everytime I think about the months leading to her death, I usually suspect she died a depressed woman. A few months before she died, mom brought her home so we could take her to hospital. She had been unwell for a while and her two sons who she lived with upcountry seemed to have neglected her.

Moreover, the two had been fighting over the ownership of her land. Given how peace-loving grams was, I usually imagine those clashes between her sons sent her to an early grave. She abhorred violence and they wouldn’t resolve their disputes amicably. Sadly, when she fell into depression, they didn’t seem to notice.

When mom learnt she was sick, she went for her and brought her home. I loved her so much, and I even had the honour of being named after her. Looking at her, I could tell all was not well with her. Even while sitted next to her, I would get the impression she was miles away because she had this bleak stare. At night I would sit by her bedside, trying to give her examples of all the good things she could look forward to, so despair wouldn’t suck her into its dark abyss.

As days passed, she got better and she started insisting she wanted to go back home. We didn’t want her to go just yet, but we figured she was feeling disillusioned because she was in a foreign place. Since we wanted her to be happy we agreed to let her go. A few months later mom and I visited her at her place and shortly after, we heard she was sick again.

Before we knew it, she was gone! When she was well, she was very lively. So when I think of hopelessness, she comes to mind and I hate what it does to someone. The way I see it, though grams never jumped off a cliff or stood in front of an oncoming train, she died because she lost the will to live.

She didn’t have the strength to fight illnesses when they ravaged her frail body and eventually when death knocked, she just opened without putting up a fight. I usually feel she could have lived for many more years if she had been happy. Hope would have opened her eyes to the endless possibilities that the future held.

The worst part about depression is that it’s very easy for one to fall victim, yet it is relatively difficult to get out of. Hope is that priceless shield which protects us from falling into that chasm. When I’m feeling low, I remind myself of the Bible verse, which says, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, but with prayer and thanksgiving, make your requests known to God”.

From my own experiences, I know it’s very easy to lose hope; but one thing I’m learning, is to look up to the man of sorrows. Jesus would have despaired in life because He already knew the painful death He was going to be subjected to, yet He didn’t. Everytime we feel despair gnawing at us, we should ask Him to help us. Because we too can be victorious like He was.

 

Emotional scars: Part 2

A few weeks ago on Deutcshe Welle TV, I watched this show about women who, in an attempt to get past horrifying incidents of domestic violence which had left their bodies awfully scarred, had gotten tattoos to cover the scars. Therefore in place of a burn or big scar, one would have a beautiful tattoo. Though I’m not a psychologist, I can say getting ‘rid’ of the marks sought of speeds up the healing process.

Now with regard to that, I found myself wondering, what would happen to people whose scars are not physical but emotional? For instance, last Sunday I was talking to my big sister and she seemed to have this evident revulsion for all matters dad. Late last year she had developed this habit where she’d stay in her room the whole day, in an attempt to stay away from him.

This went on for weeks until dad, in one of his rare glimpses of responsible parenthood, asked mom about her whereabouts. He actually sounded concerned, and that happens rarely. He told mom he didn’t support that because if she went on like that for a while longer, there was no telling what she could do to herself.

Eventually, mom talked to her about it and after seeing how concerned dad was, she stopped ‘locking’ herself in her bedroom and even started talking to him. They didn’t just dive straight away into the buddy-buddy pool but their relationship improved remarkably.

However, to my horror, last week I realised she was sliding back into that habit. When dad’s around she’ll avoid all the places she knows she could bump into him. While I don’t quite think it’s the best solution, I sought of understand why she’s doing it.

I had a talk with her about it and she told me dad is the one person in her life who has ever made her contemplate committing suicide. Therefore avoiding him works for her because if he doesn’t see her, he just might forget she even exists and he won’t have to think of all the hurtful things to say about her when he’s drunk.

See, when dad’s not trying to be a good parent, and that’s who he is most of the time, he makes someone feel very uncomfortable when they are around him. He’ll just sit behind a newspaper, purporting to read it all day, and he might not say a word unless someone starts a conversation. From what I’ve gathered over time, he usually spends that time observing everyone, making his own little condemnatory mental notes.

It’s only when he’s drunk, or has only had a little to drink and is pretending to be drunk that he starts yapping, complaining about everything and everyone. He’s been doing that since I’ve known him and I abhor it.

To be fair, I’ll just give him the benefit of the doubt and say maybe there are times he has meaningful complaints, like this one time we were all busy and didn’t get time to pull down the Christmas decorations until February.

Nonetheless, my problem is how he raises those issues. He’ll go fill up on some dutch courage before he starts venting. Worst part is, he always does wicked things deliberately with the sole intention of hurting us. For instance, two weeks ago he suggested we should visit his mom the next day and we all agreed.

Seeing as we were supposed to leave very early, we thought we would use that Friday evening to prepare for the trip which had been suggested on such short notice. Disappointingly, he went to drink at around five in the evening and he didn’t come back till around three in the morning. By then we had all cancelled the travelling plans since there was no way we’d be going to his mom’s with him drunk.

When he came in at that very ungodly hour, he started shouting as usual but since we were all asleep, he figured he would force mom to have an audience with him. Though his loud monologues had woken her up, she didn’t say anything. When he saw she wasn’t flinching or acting all agitated, he just walked to their bedroom window, opened it, and started shouting, apparently addressing the neighbours who cared to listen.

Though I didn’t hear everything because I willed myself to fall asleep so I wouldn’t hear him, the things he said were very offensive, and not to mention hurtful. In a nutshell, he said mom must be a witch because she spends so much time in prayer… (I’ve always thought praying is a good thing). And regarding my sisters and I, he said he didn’t understand what we were still doing in his house.

Like I’ve said before, maybe sometimes he has genuine concerns, but the way he brings it all up is what really hurts. I’ve never told him, but my reluctance to get married stems from this overwhelming fear I have of ending up with someone like him. He’s subjected us to so much misery, and though he’s clearly oblivious to it, I have an anxiety disorder to show for it… I have suffered from depression…and peptic ulcers…

Since I do not like dwelling so much on the past, I always try to find things which will cheer me up so I don’t get sucked into my own negative thoughts, which have become a constant companion. That’s what living in constant anxiety does to someone…Always waiting for something to go wrong…

If someone was to judge my sisters and I from our physical appearance, we look healthy and ‘normal’, because we don’t have physical scars to show for the pain and anguish we’ve been through. However deep down, we’ve so many emotional scars. That’s why I find dad’s sentiments awfully erroneous; physical scars are not the only indicators of suffering.

Emotional Scars: Part 1

How do you tell someone who’s been through hell in their life? Do they always have open scars to show for it, and does it mean if someone doesn’t have physical scars to show for the misery they might have gone through in life they haven’t suffered at all? In my very humble opinion, only a myopic person would expect to see physical scars as proof of suffering.

See Saturday night, dad was on the phone with one of his sister-in-laws, and while I can’t say if they have a solid friendship or it’s just one of the ‘fair-weather’ kind, he has this penchant for revealing our ‘family secrets’ to her when he’s drunk. Interestingly, they never talk when he’s sober; but when he’s in a drunken stupor, he’ll call her, even past midnight just to ‘check on her’.

When they talked, dad seemed to insinuate my sisters and I were ungrateful to her for all the assistance she’s allegedly given us so we could finish school because we never call her. To be honest, I found everything wrong with that statement.

For starters, unless there’s any assistance she’s ever given dad, financial or otherwise, behind our backs, I am not privy to such arrangements. In any case, over the years, my sisters and I tried remaining in good terms with her, even granting her the honour of being our ‘favourite aunt, until we realised she might not be very happy about our personal milestones.

When we’re not too concerned about interpreting her actions and reading between the lines, she actually comes off as sweet. It’s only when someone looks at things with unprejudiced eyes that one sees the malice behind her every ‘kind’ gesture. I’ll have to dedicate a whole post for that for it to all make sense…

Anyhu, dad called her Saturday night, complaining about how he had not seen my sisters and I since he came home a few hours before then. In our defence, he had come home so drunk and over time we’ve learned to avoid him because he says really nasty stuff. I cannot sum up the number of times I’ve contemplated hitting him…God-forbid! Or even throwing a bucket of ice cold water on him so he can sober up…God-forbid! That’s how infuriated he gets me…

His complaints ended with, “But you know kids, when they’re in trouble they’ll always come back to the parents”. I couldn’t agree with him more. Children will always need their parents; no matter how old they are. My only problem with that sentiment is, that’s the logic dad has always used to punish us.

Ever since I can remember, he’s always had this habit where he hurts us, physically and mostly emotionally. Then my sisters and I will resolve to never talk to him again…but given that he’s our sole breadwinner, after a while we’ll swallow our pride (if that’s what it is), and we’ll go back to talking to him. So yeah, he’s right…problems will always make children go back to their parents.

However, he fails to understand that such relations are like the houses built by a riverside; eventually they get washed away. I have mentioned it in earlier posts, that our relationship with dad is just purely financial. We have absolutely no emotional ties. Due to this, I usually fear once my sisters and I are financially stable, we won’t want anything to do with him.

After that part of his rumblings, he started talking about mom, telling our aunt that since he married her, he had never inflicted any scars on her. He meant physical ones, and he even sounded very pleased with himself. That’s when it occurred to me how narrow-minded that type of thinking is. True to his words, mom’s body could attest to his words because she doesn’t have any scars per se, that could be attributed to him.

Nonetheless, I know if emotional scars could manifest themselves on someone’s body, mom’s would give Michael Scofield’s tattooed body (Played by Wentworth Miller in TV series Prison Break) a run for its money. She has emotional scars that run deep. It’s only her love for us and for him, strangely, that makes her forget them, albeit pro tem. Sadly, dad seems oblivious to that glaring fact.