This week has been the most stressful of my life – least of all being the stress of the exam, which I felt quite pleased with. It became a distraction from the stress of my brother’s tribunal. I had to deal with a lot of different and conflicting emotions during the tribunal itself, beginning first with listening to my father being violently sick because of the stress of going through with the case and representing my brother. In the end I represented my brother as my father couldn’t do it – a subdued stress at first since I had not prepared myself for the coming trauma as my father had done, and the anxiety had not been allowed time to build inside me.
I already felt anxious, stressed and sick, and did not feel any added pressure until the second day of the case in which a day’s break had allowed me time to realise that I was stuck in a situation I couldn’t control, that pitted me against my own employer and in which my brother’s wellbeing rested, and my father’s own regrets that he could not go through with it and now wanted to put his agenda onto me. The culmination for me was a mini-nervous breakdown in which I was ready to throw in the towel, didn’t know what I should do, and couldn’t formulate my argument for the next day – all solely down to stress and pressure. The feeling of helplessness and hopelessness was only overcome by my wife’s involvement to help reguide and refocus, just as a helper does to a helpee – she kept me in control and just highlighted the path I wanted to take.
I was forced to readdress my relationships with the respondent – all of whom I have held a deep-seated hatred for, since they began their ill treatment of my brother and my family. There I was, cross-examining them with my anger spurring me onwards, showing up their inconsistencies, bad judgements and bad practice, making them stutter and stumble and be seen for what they are, and yet at times when I referred them to evidence pages I did so with courtesy, all please’s, thank-you’s and sorry’s. I was being forced to treat these people as peers, to work with them to produce an outcome, to readdress why I hated them so. This unconditional positive regard extended to an incident when one of the older witnesses for the respondent collapsed during questioning and was carried back to a waiting room. I made a choice to intervene and followed it through – although the room was filled with the 8 people I hated in all of the world, and who I had been cross-examining, I entered the room and offered the use of my first aid skills.
Most important of all my conflictions is that the case hinges on the school and inparticular the deputy head (who hired my brother onto a full time contract) knowing that my brother’s relationship with a student had gone on. She denies it, but the evidence counters that. If we can prove she knew, then they cannot sack my brother 3 years later for the same thing. I hate her most of all, was bullied by her, and have suffered because she has lied to protect herself and her job. And yet, as soon as our proof was out, as soon as the borough councillor admitted that if it were true she would be subject to a disciplinary, and as soon as the news reporter had his key evidence and left to write up his story – the report of which is damning for all – my guilt kicked in.
I have spent the last 2 years of my life dealing with such deep anger that when it came to crunch time, I could not go through with it. She must be brought to task, but I no longer want a part of it. I don’t want to place blame, and I don’t want people to be held accountable. I don’t want it on my head. My father pointed out to me that I’m compassionate, and sure, I am, but why now?
It seems that under the cloud of anger, in whatever guise it takes hold – sadness, depression, regret, etc – our true nature is blinded, our real wishes are suppressed, much like a change in physiology brought on by drugs or hormones.