[Oct 2013] The Trial

The long non-awaited day has finally come today. The day of the trial. I was unlucky enough to see a bad fight between two employees of a customer of mine. The one sued the other, and I had to go to the trial as a witness. I’ve been feeling terrible, often unbearable increasing anxiety for the last few days. Yesterday afternoon on my regular weekly therapy session we were discussing the trial for the whole hour. Talking, relaxation, everything. I was extremely fearful, but I decided I go, whether I like it or not. I was afraid that I was going to be so anxious that I pass out, in front of everybody. I tried to accept this possibility, no matter how ashamed I was.

I went to play soccer last evening, although I had doubts if I was able to concentrate. The match was irrelevant. I couldn’t focus or enjoy it at all. On the way home I was already flooded with thoughts about today. I took a bath and laid down for a body scan meditation. To my surprise, I fell asleep before the end, despite that I woke up early and hardly did anything all day. When I woke up, I turned it off and went to my bed to keep on sleeping. I didn’t have a good night sleep, but I could sleep at least enough hours.

In the morning I woke up several times before the alarm, but when it finally rang, it was painful to get up. I got myself together, washed my face and my teeth, dressed up nicely, and forced a few bites of food into my stomach. It was still way too early. I tried to meditate, but I couldn’t sit still for a second, so I started walking up and down the apartment as a meditation exercise, but my thoughts kept on running wild. Every other moment I felt that I wouldn’t be able to go in there, so I would rather stay home no matter the consequences. Other times I felt confident and relaxed and imagined myself going there and answering the questions calmly, leaving the courthouse and forgetting this shit for good. I ordered a taxi 45 minutes before the trial, and I arrived at the court more than 30 minutes before the start.

I entered the building and found the room where the trial would be. My ex-colleague – the other witness – was sitting on a bench next to the door. He was also waiting. He told me he saw the room, and it was small. Only two people of the justice department were in; no one else had arrived yet. I was grateful for the small room. I imagined big courtrooms with hundreds of people before, like in the movies. It terrified me to tell what I saw in front of all those people. It made me even more dreadful that half the people wouldn’t like what I would say. A small room with fewer people, it seemed much easier.

I felt it strange that neither the demandant nor the defendant had arrived yet, although we were already close to starting. I asked my ex-colleague if he was nervous, just to squeeze some empathy out of him. He didn’t even understand my question. I told him my feelings anyway. I told him how badly this trial affected me, how nervous I was, and how much I wanted to be anywhere but there. He looked at me as if I was a weirdo. Before we could get deeper into this conversation, a voice called us through the loudspeaker above the door.

I didn’t understand why they called us together, but we went inside. My legs were weak and my hands were trembling. The room was small indeed, only with four tables and a few chairs. The judge was sitting in front of us in the middle. He was a kind, smiling young man, certainly under 40. On his right was an older man in his fifties, and a woman on the other side, at about the same age. They seemed all nice and friendly to me. The judge asked for our ID. I gave it to him. He asked her assistants to turn on the voice recorder. Then he started his official speech: the two witnesses appeared according to the subpoena, but the defendant was absent against his proper citation. Then he turned to an off-the-record mode and started talking directly to us. He told us that the defendant had called an hour earlier and talked about some made-up excuses why he couldn’t come. He had said that he was living abroad, he was robbed, he couldn’t come home without papers, blah, blah. The company representatives didn’t come because they were notified not to come. He couldn’t reach us because he didn’t know our phone numbers. The bottom line is that there would be no hearing and testimony for us.

I had ambivalent feelings about all this. On the one hand, I was in an awful condition. I didn’t want to be there and testify, so I was relieved. On the other hand, I had been waiting so badly to get over this whole trial thing and forget about it. And now I got some escape, but I was afraid that it would be haunting me for another few months. I asked them if there was a chance to testify despite the circumstances, but there wasn’t because the lawyers had questions too, and they weren’t present. Then we fixed the next appointment, in four months.

I left the building with my ex-colleague, and I tried to explain him my anxious feelings, trying to explain it to myself too. I wasn’t doing anything for the rest of the day, except for playing with FarCry, my favorite FPS video game.

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