Someone recently asked me when I decided I wanted to be a lawyer …
The question prompted me to ask myself “why” did I want to become a lawyer? And I went back over my life to see if I could find out when and why … and I discovered something about myself that I suppose I always knew, but never pieced together completely.
When: I was in the 8th Grade, living again in Grant Heights, Japan. I had a friend who lived down the street from me. I have only two memories that stand out with this friend. She and I went trick-or-treating together one Halloween, both dressed up in “Go-Go” dancers, with white plastic boots and mini skirts. [Looking back, I’m sure my skirt wasn’t that “mini” because my adoptive parents had a relatively strict dress code.] And she and I talked about what we’d become when we grew up. During that conversation, I announced I would become a lawyer.
Why: I had seen many episodes of Perry Mason – a television drama about a lawyer played by Raymond Burr.
I just remember that Perry Mason was smart, kind, caring and everyone trusted him. He was everything I wanted. The key word here is “TRUST.” Only when I look back over my life do I see why Trust was so important to me. Because by the 8th grade, I had no one and nothing to trust. I was alone in the world.
My mother had died when I was one. Shortly after that, my father left. I have loving memories with my grandmother, but at age five, I was adopted. Shortly thereafter my first American friends taunted me yelling “your mother is dead.” At that moment, I didn’t realize how alone I was. That night, my parents broke the news: my mother was dead and my parents were imposters. I was told how special I was. And shortly after that, I discovered how special I was when my adoptive father came into my room, at night. I wasn’t asleep but I pretended to be as he began to touch me in ways I didn’t understand. Later he told me this was a secret. I knew something was wrong. But I was alone and had no one to turn to. My real parents were gone. My grandmother was gone. I was alone. And that’s where I lived most of my life – in my world of aloneness.
My attraction to Perry Mason was how everyone trusted him. I wanted that. If I could not find anyone to trust, I’d be the one others could trust. Maybe, just maybe, that would fill up my aloneness. I became a lawyer and I was successful at creating trust with my clients. All my clients trusted me. But it didn’t fill up my aloneness.
By then, I was married to my current husband, who has always been my rock. His family embraced me. But I did not completely take in all the affection sent my way. I didn’t trust it. It wasn’t until my adoptive father died in 2004, when my emotions came rising to the surface, that my perplexed husband started probing and I finally spilled out the secret I had been guarding my whole life, knowing this could end everything in my life. My life didn’t end. My husband didn’t retreat. He’s still here with me today, still a rock.
TODAY’S HOW TO
Feeling alone is something almost everyone feels at some point in a life. Losing parents, children, spouses, even pets. We all have to deal with being alone at some point. After a lifetime of feeling alone, it’s nice not to feel that way anymore. I’m glad I became a lawyer. I’m glad I found something to do to help others not be alone and to give them someone to trust. I’m glad I have someone I can trust now. I’m not alone.
Today, I’m not sure how much Perry Mason really had to do with my life eventually evolving to the happy one it is today. But I do think about him sometimes and the image he represented in my head – the image of the compassionate and trusting lawyer I try to be today. Perry Mason and trust. Trust in general in life. So, in any case, thank you Perry Mason.