Thoughts or criticisms
“Your dad is a drug addict!” Those were the first words my mom screamed at me when I returned home from school. It was apparent they were arguing for hours, evidenced by the tear streaked cushion my mother was clutching. My throat tightened and I felt a lump forming in the middle of my chest. A combination of emotions, anger, fear, and sadness all squished together into something I could feel throbbing inside of me. As I stood there, listening to them scream obscenities at each other, it dawned on me that I could change what was happening. I did not have to be a pawn in their fight, forced to take one parents’ side over the other. Between the pauses in screaming I convinced them to let me help them. I moved us from the living room to the kitchen. A neutral area and somewhere unassociated with the past few hours. If I was going to help them I was going to have to push aside my emotions and only weigh the facts. They expressed their doubts and scoffed at my suggestion. I made it clear that I was not going to tell them what to do but merely try to guide them in the right direction to the best of my ability. The plan was to figure out what started the argument, what continued it, and finally how it could be resolved.
When my dad admitted he suffered from depression I could not breathe. All the air had been squeezed out of my lungs and replaced with a feeling of anguish. I had been oblivious to what my dad was going through; however to dwell on my regret would not have helped the situation. I could make amends with myself by helping my parents though this. I would do what they were incapable of doing, remaining impartial. I would be a middle man, only listening to the facts. The drugs, he claimed, made him feel better while allowing him to tolerate day to day activities. It was medicinal to him rather than recreational. This explanation would not abate my mom’s disgust with the situation. Aside from the use of the drugs themselves, their questionable legality was an additional point of contention. From her point of view the reasoning was sound given an incident which happened 2-3 months prior. I walked into our living room one evening to find my dad mostly unresponsive to verbal stimuli and lacking coordination. A trip to the hospital ensued and an allergy to flu medicine was offered by mom as the explanation. I only realized during this argument that I witnessed an overdose to something obtained illegally.
I began to think of a solution, a way in which my dad could manage his depression without upsetting my mom. In order to reach a compromise I assessed what each parent was willing to commit to. My dad was not going to stop using the drugs, but he was open to the option of trying others obtained through legal means. My mom was opposed to him using drugs at all; however she agreed on the terms that he visit a psychiatrist. Something he was extremely opposed to. I reasoned with him citing all the things he stood to lose should this not prove to be a suitable fix. Reluctantly he agreed and an appointment was made for the following week. After about one to two months of visits and trial and error my dad was finally prescribed something that worked. While it did not mitigate his depression to the same extent as the previous substances, it enabled him to keep a family he loved.
From this experience and the many fights that would follow, I gained the knowledge that a third party is effective in resolving disputes. In a way, this was my first introduction to mediation, just one facet of the legal system. Out of the many avenues you can take once admitted to law school, Alternative Dispute Resolution suits me, specifically arbitration and mediation. A personality trait instilled at me at young age was to consider every side of a problem equally. I wish to apply this quality towards dispute resolution and help those who would otherwise turn to litigation. In addition I want to aid those in communities not served well by the legal system either due to financial or social limitations.
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