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Trauma and Personal Growth

This will be a bit of a detour, but I am reading a very life changing book called “The Inner World of Trauma: Archetypal Defenses of the Personal Spirit”. It is a compilation of what many many transpersonal psychologists—Freud, Jung and many few have heard of—have explored about why it is so hard to heal trauma. The fact that it has stumped so many experts tells us something.

Trauma is tough stuff. What does this have to do with law school? It will have a LOT to do with my career, as my own trauma was a large part of what drove me to become a lawyers and them to work with divorce… and now to change the system as much as I possibly can. (The legal system TRAUMATIZES people. But almost NO ONE has a clue about trauma.)

So, knowing that we are clueless about the effects of trauma, it may seem clear that not only is it the traumatized people who end up duking it out in court… but  that the end result is carnage. And yet… it is still the norm. I will speak more about the sad fact that trauma recreates itself (and this utterly baffles the untraumatized who think it should be easy to just stop). For the abused women to “just leave”… and so on.

So, I got through law school with one third of my tuition unpaid, and graduated!  My first time wearing a cap and gown. My mother and sister came out… but I don’t remember much except what was in a photo. And recently my sister shared with me her memory of us having a row at the airport. (Of course I was at fault.)  This massive amnesia I have is one of the legacies of trauma. But I knew I had accomplished something very few people had. I had gradated from law school in two years—on my own steam with no help from my family at all. (My family were not, it seems, impressed. I think my mother was proud, but my sister still seems to think I am a complete idiot. To this day.)

The next step was… the California State Bar Exam. The California State Bar Exam is famously one of the two most difficult in the country. The SCALE passage rate was well above the passage rate for accredited schools, but we all knew failure was a statistical possibility. This is not a happy thought. We had just spent two years and many thousands of dollars molding our brains and forgoing almost all fun… and we might not pass the damn test.

After graduation and some degree of satisfaction and celebration comes… BAR REVIEW! My boyfriend (as we neared completion we actually did have a minimal social life) took BARBRI—I took Josephson. (I think my choice was also guided—Josephson, no longer doing Bar Review, made us laugh. BARBRI was dead serious.) So after a mini-meltdown (Jeff sensibly smacked me –verbally– and I got over that!) I buckled down and focused UTTERLY on the process of learning the rules of the game called “the Bar Exam.” (I just checked–the current price of this several month long marathon is $3,975.00!!!)

I carpooled to the live classes way down in LA—another good choice IMHO, opting for live over video—and took notes. AND I READ THEM!! I did every damn thing they said to do—and more. (Except that I was not able to read as slowly as they recommended. My reading speed and comprehension were just not on the charts.) I read the materials I took and reviewed notes, I made flash cards of the “black letter law”. (Stuff you ONLY need to know for the Bar Exam!!!)

And I wrote extra essays. I busted my butt. I studied. I jogged. I went to class. Rinse, repeat.  And then… it was the day before the Big Day. I was signed up to take the test in Glendale as I planned to type my test. (This was before computers.) As BADLY as I type, I KNEW my speed would far exceed what I could hand write and it would be far more easily readable. And it was. (And the test center was close to me and there were far fewer people. Both major blessings.) And the GUESS WHAT I DID?? I took the day off. I KNEW I had done the work and one more day was not going to change what I knew, I knew I might never have a day where I had such freedom ever again… so I played. Yep–played. All day.

Then I got up at whatever time and drove to Glendale with two typewriters– a manual and an electric as they have had power outages, and began the final ordeal.

I had one of my “Carroll’s world” events—one which led to my first law job– on day three of  The Test… where I will begin tomorrow.

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  1. Michelle
    February 23, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Wishing you the very best…I know you will do well in whatever path you choose!

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