I learned the hard way at a young age.
I learned that anyone who represents himself in a court of law has a fool for a client. I learned this while sitting on a hardwood bench and listening to jailhouse lawyers discuss cases of other detainees. I call them jailhouse lawyers; only, they never went to college. They just did a lot of time. That’s all.
They held court right in the middle of the holding cell. They recommended what to say to the judge during arraignment. I recall sitting in the bullpens, warming up, and awaiting my turn to go upstairs.
I was told what to say and when to say it by some of the more seasoned veterans. I was told by men whom, of course, were locked in the same room as me. They had history and records as long as the coldest winter. The legal system calls them recidivists, but yet, in their jailhouse glory, they advise others how to work their way around the legal system.
Meanwhile, we are all locked in the same room. Up until a short while before we were all cuffed to one another and heading over to the courthouse, but yet, in the infinite wisdom of their jailhouse minds, some of them believed they are fit attorneys for the rest of the people who sat nearby.
I listened mostly. I never spoke. I was too afraid if I’m being honest. I believed the worst thing I could do was draw more attention to myself; or worse, say something stupid that would misrepresent me in any way. This would create a target on my back—especially, if I had to head over to County. This would be bad if I was seen as someone presenting myself or “Perpetrating,” as it’s called.
Jail is tough enough but to be tagged or marked is the worst thing possible.
I didn’t want to perpetrate or represent or present myself at all. I just wanted to keep myself from getting beaten or worse, be a victim to the ideas of rape or at minimum, be forced to give lap dances to some big guy with a white mop-head as a wig.
I was in for the first time and petrified. I was in jail alright. And I was just a wet-behind-the-ears kid. But even then I found this astonishing that others in the bullpen sat as comfortable as they would in the kitchen of their own homes, advising others what to do about their case.
“Don’t tell me,” argued one of the men in the holding cell.
He said, “I know the law!”
Then he argued, “I’ve been in and out of jail all my life.”
He said, “So don’t tell me. I know the deal!”
I remember thinking, “If you know the law so well, then why were you always in and out of jail? Obviously, you’re not much of a layer.”
I remember thinking this and as quickly as the thought came, someone else laughed and responded, “If you know the law so well then what are you doing in jail?”
The man laughed and said, “Because I like to break the law.”
There was an elder sitting near me. He informed me, “Stay away from guys like that.”
He told me,”They like to show.”
The man advised, “You should never show anything.”
“Trust me,” said the man to my left.
“When they get up in front of the judge, they’ll all be quiet like little children.”
Turns out the man to my left was right. With all the talk and all the advice, no one said anything to the judge. I said nothing too. There was a public defender that did all the talking. All I ever said was, “Yes your Honor.” and “No your Honor.” and finally, “”Thank you, your Honor,” when I was released without bail.”
I learned more about this lesson as I grew older. I learned that just because someone went through a medical procedure or just because someone learned something in their life; no matter how much they’ve learned, their knowledge, wisdom, and understanding is not the same as say, a licensed physician or en expert in this profession.
At a young age, I learned that if I had a problem with an outlet in my house, I should find an electrician instead of plumber.
I learned that a little knowledge can often be dangerous—and it’s not that people have ill-intent so much or that anyone is intentionally steering you wrong. More accurately, for some reason, people just want to feel as if they know something. They want to pass of their knowledge and feel like they can be considered an authority.
I remember back when I first learned about sobriety and found myself welcomed into a 12-step fellowship, which was good for me; however, there were other issues I had to contend with.
I had to deal with my depression and anxiety. Except, I was part of a fellowship that did not support or believe in medically assisted treatment. Medication was frowned upon. I was programmed to think a certain way. Meanwhile, the people teaching me this were not doctors by any means. They were people, just like me. They needed help and went through their own process but none of them were professionals.
There are people anxious to portray themselves or “Perpetrate,” as if they are who they are not. They like to show. Stay away from them, was the best suggestion for me.
I was told if I needed legal advice, ask a lawyer. I was told if I was sick, go to a doctor. If my car breaks down, take it to a mechanic, Everyone has their proper place; therefore, I go where it is appropriate.
For example, I interacted with an woman of humble means. She was trying to stop drinking but struggled. She reached to someone for help. This person was not certified whatsoever, but yet, they still had the gall to charge for their advice due to their experience, strength, and hope.
My question is how can someone untrained on a medical issue give solid medical advice? Keep in mind, withdrawal from alcohol can be deadly. This person was not a doctor; instead, they charged people to be in contact with them throughout the day.
More and more, I see the reason behind my certifications and why I need to learn more and do more.
Same as I would never take legal advice from someone that has been in and out of jail a thousand times, why would I take medical or mental health advice from someone that never even took a first aid class?
It is hard to reach out for help. This is the bravest thing to do above all things. When life is at its worst, to reach out for help is the most heroic thing anyone could do for themselves.
So yes, reaching out for help is the right thing to do. However, reaching out to the right person for help is the smartest thing to do.
Don’t set yourself up.
You deserve the best treatment possible.
Never settle for anything less.
Be mindful of free of advice, it’s not always worth what it seems