• Billie Proffitt

One Sweet Glimpse of Truth On The Witness Stand

I’ve been in various civil lawsuits against my estranged defacto spouse since early 2014 and we spent a number of days in trial over the past few weeks… He and his counsel are constantly lying, testing the waters with how much they can away with, and let me say from experience, it is terrifying how much they do. For being in America and supposedly living by and standing for, our Founding Fathers’ ethics - the American Justice system is anything but just.


A few months ago when we had our “Mandatory Settlement Conference” - his legal team filed a motion with the court (read: judge) asking for my ex not to have to appear in front of the settlement conference judge because “he is a business owner based in Australia and can’t be away from it long enough to attend”. I don’t know if he forgot, or what, but we were still friends on FaceBook, so I just took a screenshot everyday of his weird antics; the same weird antics of course that made me fall in love with him in the first place.


My lawyer arrived to this hearing with a stack of screen shots showing his adventures across “The Stans” as we call them: he was on his 19th day of vacation in the Middle East when his lawyer stood a brazen bold-faced liar asking the judge to grant him a pardon from attending court in the upcoming settlement conference. One would think this is enough for the judge to be offended, being so blatantly lied to in her courtroom… And she did force him to show up to the settlement conference, stating that he was the one who filed a lawsuit in California, so it’s his problem to get here for what it entails. However, that seems to be the highest bar of her just and level head - more on that subject another time.


For the most part the trial was as much crazy, non-sensical circus as the rest of this ridiculous, time and energy and resource wasting, negativity building litigation… as is most of the justice system. But there was one brief moment when I recognized the man I spent years of my life with - even if it was as he sat on the witness stand across from me.


When we both smiled and instinctively caught eyes for a second across the room, I laughed out loud in the joy of being catapulted through space and time to our living room in Sydney - totally in love and wading through the painful Australian immigration process together to intertwine our lives permanently.


Clueless, (per usual), his desperate, sleazy, ambulance-chaser,-type status-climbing attorney (who didn’t even know how to pronounce his own client’s name so obviously, and so many times that the judge had to correct him on numerous occasions), had asked my ex “what locations we had traveled to together in our relationship,” - and for the first time in years, my ex and I looked straight at one another, finding our connection directly in each other’s eyes. It was like that moment in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Eat Pray Love” when she catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror and recognizes in herself a friend... for that split second, we recognized in one another a friend, the absolutely inseparable friends we spent years as.


Zoom out at this point in life though, and this was a very bizarre situation.


Here we were amongst a dozen people, all of them strangers except for my Dad in the rows of the courtroom behind the waist-high swinging doors… but even as much time as our parents all spent with us, none of them know our relationship’s most boring, most everyday, most intimate or stressful or hysterical shared moments. Moments like the back and forth of the WEEK it took our immigration lawyer’s office in The Rocks to figure out all the places we’d traveled to together.


We had to photo copy all the pages in all of our passports to create a grid document lining up the various stamps to the dates and geographies; they struggled for days through our immensely travel-filled relationship, with different visas needed as we traveled on different passports (my ex possessing multiple, in addition to my own) to meet the requirements of each country: this big, confusing puzzle spanning years… to answer this very question that his counterproductive attorney casually threw out there, I’m sure expecting a simple answer before moving on to his next stutter. So much expended energies all to figure out “what locations we had traveled to together as a couple”. All the time, effort and money spent on this - all the Christmas cards we went back to for reference and picture gallery scrolls…


Yet here we were: not one person in that courtroom had any idea of what it was like to live through that week, let alone the months and dramas it ended up taking to get our defacto marriage recorded, other than he and myself. In that short moment, we forgot all the ugliness that had come between us and we simply recognized in one another, a friend, across the room, sharing in this private, inside joke.


But just like that the judge snapped at my lawyer something along the lines of, “Control your client! There is no laughing in my courtroom - there is respect!” That ignorant, arrogant judge who possesses the very same singular desire in life that my ex and his lead attorney do as well: power, no matter the costs or causes… she hadn’t even taken the time to read the evidence in the months before to realize that she was the fool: they have continually lied to her up and down, yet she was calling me disrespectful simply because my ex plays the vague games necessary in our crooked judicial system better than I do. That judge is a disgrace to her job, just as the last judge I interacted with on a supposed “professional” level, but these are deeper stories meant for a different medium.


For now, I’ll just enjoy the giggle of what it felt like to be in Apartment 1604, stressed to all hell about filing my immigration marriage paperwork properly, but getting to laugh about it, and crawl in bed next to my best friend every night… And then enjoy the feeling that I hopefully never have to see him again too.

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