I attended the 2017 Colorado Collaborative Justice Conference last week and felt a little overwhelmed. This is the harmonic convergence of the Problem Solving Courts that are functioning here which includes Judges, Magistrates, District Attorneys, Probation Officers, Coordinators, Administrators, and State Coordinators. The focus is Best Practices and celebrating the “people first” approach to criminal prosecution whose main focus is recovery.
On the final day of the conference, I attended a plenary with a panel of graduates from various PSC’s around the state. They shared their experience, strength, and hope as well as how the support of those courts and their staff gave them the bolstering they needed to find a higher purpose for their lives.
In the breakout room of this plenary was a woman whose style and panache seemed so familiar to me that I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She was about 40 pounds heavier and had a young child with her. I couldn’t discern for sure, but I thought I recognized her. Her young boy was feisty so she removed him from the room so as not to disturb. It was then that I realized who she was and I chased around the ground level of the hotel to find her. She and her son were seated outside. She smiled and shook her head as I approached and I asked if I might be seated and speak with her. I was very aware of not breaking her anonymity.
Suddenly like awaking from a narcoleptic seizure, I was seated across from one of the most distinctively styled and deeply troubled woman I have ever worked as a counselor and confidant for. I remember she blew into our clinic as the retro-styled Roni Spector wanna-be who migrated to Colorado from Utah after a lifetime of childhood and adult sexual, emotional, and physical abuse. She was most assuredly on of THE toughest Chicanas I had ever crossed paths with. As I have always been passionate about supporting the underdog, I developed an immediate connection with her. She was obviously a tough cookie. Even more obvious was how she had hardened to obscure the pain and trauma she had survived. She drifted in and out of compliance with our process at the clinic where I worked, and eventually my allegiance to that clinic wavered and I moved on. She became very angry with me because she felt I gave up on her. Sad too, because I gave up on the clinic, not the clients. And I required that boundary for my own well being.
So as I sat on the patio at an umbrella’d table with she and her 2 year old, I was mesmerized with her recent sobriety. She and her then boyfriend got pregnant and she got sober. Maybe not immediately, but certainly before birth. She went went into a coma for a few month after childbirth and it was touch and go during that time. Perhaps she was hang gliding with the angels for awhile and reassessing her priorities. She was gonna need it. Her son was born with a rare cerebral deformity. The medical teams reiterated often that he would not live more than 2 years. I smiled to myself as I played catch with this 2 1/2 year old using an orange as a ball. I realized once again how little I really understand and how mindful I need to be to leave room for miracles in life. She and her partner both have successfully transitioned into recovery. I have no idea what may happen when health issues change, but the now in this situation is plenty for me.
Just like seeing a double rainbow, there I sat in full sun, experiencing the work of a power beyond me, and feeling completely blessed and renewed.
I feel a hunger, it’s a hunger That tries to keep a man awake at night Are you the answer I shouldn’t wonder When I feel you whet my appetite
With all the power you’re releasing It isn’t safe to walk the city streets alone Anticipation’s running through me Let’s find the key and turn this engine on
I can feel you breathe I can feel your heart beat faster
Take me home tonight I don’t want to let you go till you see the light Take me home tonight Listen honey Just like Ronnie sang Be my little baby Oh, oh, oh