I was talking to a woman the other day who sort of surprised me. “I have ADHD and Asperger’s,” she said. “I know it’s not always easy, and people get frustrated with me. Would you firm be able to work with me?”
I was surprised she asked, for one thing. Though many of us have various diagnoses, we often don’t lead with them. Though, come to think of it, maybe the world would be a lot kinder to us if we did.
I told her yes, of course – but I’m going to tell you, too. Even if ADHD and Asperger’s isn’t your think. Maybe it’s anxiety and depression, or bipolar. Maybe you’re schizophrenic. Maybe you’ve got post traumatic stress disorder. Maybe you’re suffering from trauma in general. Maybe you have a drug or alcohol addiction.
Whatever it is, reader, we’ve seen it before. And we know that everyone isn’t coming to us on exactly equal footing. If a career in family law has taught any of us anything, it’s that it takes all types in this world. We’ve seen many of them.
I get it, though. We all have insecurities, especially about the things that we – or others around us – have perceived as flaws. Or things that are potentially embarrassing.
I’ve worked with ‘mail order’ brides and women in open marriages. I’ve worked with women who’ve cheated and women who’ve been cheated on. Women whose cheating husbands gave them embarrassing (not to mention dangerous!) sexually transmitted diseases, some of them permanent.
I’ve worked with people who have more debt than assets. People who’ve taken pay day loans, who’ve liquidated their retirement accounts to fund an obsession or addiction. People who’ve lost custody. People who’ve lost themselves in religious orders that seem less than legitimate. People who, for one reason or another, have made choices that have cost them dearly.
You know what they say about people in glass houses, right? Well, I do think that we’re all sort of living in glass houses. We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all got things in our pasts (or our presents) that we’d prefer didn’t come to light. For some of us, these things don’t HAVE to come to light. We can see our doctors, take our medicine, talk with our therapists, and continue to grow, change, evolve, and, yes, make mistakes. We can work within our limitations, our different brain chemistries, and cope.
But, for others of us, these things seem to come to the forefront. Because of your divorce, separation, or custody case, you may find that you’re having to face your demons more publicly than you’d might like. And those demons can take a lot of different shapes, but it doesn’t change the fact that facing them – and facing them alongside an attorney – might feel uncomfortable, or even insurmountable.
I can understand the anxiety you might feel about admitting to someone the truth of your personal situation, let alone an attorney. We sit there behind our desks, judging – right? Except that, for us, at least, we’re really not. We’re here to help.
I do think that it’s important to find an attorney that you think you can talk to. After all, it is an intensely personal relationship, because we talk about some of the most intimate pieces of a person’s life. Her marriage, the health of her relationships, her finances, her sex life, the way she parents – all of those things are on the table, on top of everything else she might already be dealing with. It’s hard to just walk into a random attorney’s office and talk about such important and intimate things with a near-stranger.
It’s part of why I recommend doing the research ahead of time, by finding an attorney and a firm that you feel that you connect with, and whose mission aligns with your worldview. Its also why we promote our monthly divorce seminars and our divorce and custody books to women – so they can get an idea of who we are and what we do, as well as gain a better understanding of their rights and entitlements under Virginia law.
We know that not everyone is coming to us in the same way. We’re all fighting different battles, and we’ll certainly do everything we can to meet you where you are. Of course, you’ll have to do your bit, too – see your doctor, talk to your therapist, take your medication, be truthful, be open to advice, and so on – but we’re here to help.
I’m glad this woman was comfortable laying it all out on the line for me, and I admired her ability to advocate for herself. Leading with that information is unusual. In fact, I can’t think of a time before where anyone ever asked me whether her specific situation would be something that I’d be willing to work with. But I definitely respect and admire it, and I’m glad that she gave me an opportunity to establish myself as an ally.
For more information, to request a free copy of one of our books or free reports, or to register to attend an upcoming seminar, where you can meet and ask questions live to one of our licensed and experienced Virginia divorce and custody attorneys, give us a call at 757-425-5200 or visit our website at hoflaw.com.