Surrender – What does this really mean?
Surrender, to me, meant to give in, to be weak. You surrender when you’ve exhausted all your options and you’ve failed; game over. To surrender meant that the other person, the one you’re fighting against, won the battle. Frankly speaking, losing was not an option for me.
Then recently, I experienced something that changed my definition of the word “surrender.” The experience did more than change its meaning, I felt what it meant to truly surrender.
I had been representing a wonderful man for many years through his divorce, and the years that followed, with the goal and intention of helping his ex wife, the mother of his three children, get much needed mental health treatment.
So, I fought. I took down the therapist who was untrained and inexperienced in dealing with the magnitude of this woman’s multiple diagnoses. I had the wife’s treating psychiatrist removed from the case after I deposed him. He admitted that he did not see the value in reading his patients’ medical/psychiatric records after being provided with two banker boxes of my client’s former wife’s medical records, including multiple hospitalizations for attempted suicide. This psychiatrist, well known in the Bloomfield area, testified that he was able to form an opinion of this woman based upon the first intake meeting. Despite being told that she had been found legally incapacitated by the Court, he said he just thought she was a bored, rich housewife.
Then there were her attorneys. She went through a few, as well as “teams” of attorneys, who, instead of ethically and morally doing their job to protect their client, took advantage of her by challenging my every attempt to get this woman into the care of the appropriate mental health professionals. The Court? Her guardian? Let’s just say that good intentions without follow through aren’t enough. I warned her attorneys, the Judge, and the guardian that she would kill herself if we didn’t get her the help she desperately needed.
Unfortunately, I was right. Last month, this helpless, mentally ill, unprotected mother of three ended her life.
I knew that I did everything in my power and control to help this woman, but all I could feel for weeks was sadness, anger, frustration, and disappointment. Then, with crystal clear clarity, I found and felt the meaning of the word surrender, acceptance. The battle that I fought for years was over. There was no benefit in replaying the scenes from that horror film. I had to accept what was, not what could have (and should have) been.
To surrender is to accept being present in the moment. Acceptance does not mean agreement. I remain committed to accountability and I am confident that the State of Michigan will properly investigate and deal with the mental health professionals accordingly.
As for me, I learned the true meaning of what it feels like to surrender. I let go of what was no longer. I accepted the reality, which includes knowing I fulfilled my moral and ethical obligations as a lawyer and as a caring human being.
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