From the moment I was born, court orders and judges controlled everything in my life.
They decided where I lived and when I lived there; who I could see and when I could see them; who I couldn't see and when I couldn't see them; what I could do with specific people and not do with specific people; what I could say to specific people and what I couldn't say to specific people, etc.
This was an extremely stressful situation, especially for a 4-year-old, a 7-year-old, or a 13-year-old, as different ages presented different challenges with different court orders dictating different things.
In sum, my life was a confusing mess.
On top of this, I witnessed a lot of domestic, financial, emotional, and sexual abuse as a child, along with being a victim of abuse myself. I lost family after family as my father got involved with new women, before those relationships also inevitably ended in more court battles with new parties.
I had to say goodbye to countless friends, houses, toys, and siblings. I also lost countless friends, houses, toys, and siblings. This made me feel isolated and scared to open up to anyone about what was going on. Not to mention, even when I tried to open up to people, they rarely understood, often preferring to change the subject.
Even counsellors, who are supposed to be there for youth going through difficult times, refused to see me in fear of being sued and getting involved in all the legal battles.
When I was 13, I made a pretty big decision to stop seeing one of my parents and take some control over my life for once.
This did not go over well. Court only ramped up further and I got pulled even further into the mess. Instead of being a passive bystander in my parent's cases, I became an active member. I received angry messages and letters in the mail from family members telling me I was destroying our family and being a horrible son. My days and nights were taken up with reading over affidavits and organizing court documents. I tried getting my own lawyer but they couldn't do much for me. Once again, I was alone and felt like nobody was there for me or understood what I was going through.
Some people even became scared to be around me, not knowing if court could spill over into their life. This went on for many years, but eventually we settled in court when I was 20. We haven't been back yet, but there's a fear and distrust of legal professionals, police, judges, lawyers, and counsellors that never goes away when you've repeatedly been failed by the system your whole life.