By Tiffany M. Simmons, Esq.
“They” say follow your dreams, but how many of us really do follow our dreams? And who is “they” anyways? The rapper Meek Mill gave us the smash album “Dreams & Nightmares” and we all felt that because every person has a dream, and every person has nightmares. But not every person is brave enough to really live there dream. Since I was around 5 or 6 years old I dreamed of becoming a top Attorney. In fifth grade I even said that I would be a “successful Attorney.” Even my adolescent mind, I knew the difference between “good and great” and I wanted greatness for my life. I wanted to create a legacy that would extend to my children’s children. I followed and lived my childhood dream as a lawyer and owner of Simmons Law; a law business based in Atlanta, GA. I became undefeated in the courtroom and known worldwide for my unique style. What would you do when your dream turns into a nightmare? Well, that’s a question that I was forced to face within the last few months.
I built Simmons Law from the ground up. In the beginning with no handouts, no loans, and no help. I am the girl with literally all odds against me since birth, but God doesn’t look at the odds, he qualifies the “unqualified.” According to stats, as a Black/Native American woman I wasn’t supposed to be “brilliant.” I was born of teenage parents. I moved around a lot. My “innocence was altered/taken” at a young age by a family member; all of these “odds” could have easily had me headed down a road of destruction. I come from a family where higher education was few. Even though my family members were hardworking, some very talented; I was just always different from them, well at least I felt that way.
Always thinking ahead… or ahead of my time. I was the first to graduate a 4 year college and become a lawyer. I have extended family members that are in the legal field, but what I’ve created with Simmons Law is something for the next generation. Through my faith in God and belief in myself, I pushed through to build a six figure business; Simmons Law is the law business of this generation, and I have been blessed to represent some of the most diverse cases and clients over the years. I’ve enjoyed the roller coaster ride of the ups and downs of entrepreneurship and the building of my reputation as an undefeated attorney. Yes, I’ve never lost any trial in my whole legal career! But the dream I loved turned into a nightmare on March 10, 2018.
Since March 10, I couldn’t and wouldn’t look at law the same. On that life changing day, I became one of my clients. I was assaulted and held against my will by a former male roommate, and now becoming another black girl in the system. Not wanting this recent assault to be a “me too” moment because honestly, I hated being a “victim” but I was, this was “me too” again in my life. Becoming a victim of a crime and actually speaking out was devastating and not my normal method of dealing with shameful incidents. But I immediately spoke up for myself to the police, friends, and family. The police’s lack of action helped to botch the case, instead of holding my assailant accountable for his actions. The lawyer I hired let my case “fall through the cracks” which was my worst fear when I courageously told others about the horrific incident in hopes of getting justice.
Although the incident didn’t leave me with physical scars, I will forever have mental and emotional scars from the day I thought I was going to be raped and killed in my apartment. I didn’t get justice for myself because he was never charged for any of his crimes. How does an undefeated lawyer get no justice for herself????? This question continues to haunt me.
The only form of justice I received was that the courts granted me a six month restraining order; but the assailant wasn’t held accountable for turning my world upside down! This incident turned my dream of dominating in law into a nightmare of me feeling worse than I ever felt about a profession/industry that I once loved more than anything else. Let’s be real, I gave 150% to the law! I gave up relationships and time with loved ones. I worked “for free” oftentimes continuing on clients cases when they haven’t made their payments according to the “payment arrangements.” I’ve worked when my health suffered; yep I’ve had questions of fertility. I’ve worked through my own hurts, and pains for 9 years. My past experiences taught me to “sweep traumatic events under the rug or push it to the back of my mind.” This method of “self-preservation” didn’t work this time, because I could barely function the weeks following that morning. The courtroom that I loved to “stand for truth” now became my enemy. I was forced to stop standing for my clients, the community, the women who look up to me or I inspire, to stand for me and take care of the “foundation of my life.” It’s scary, but if I don’t stand for something (me) in this matter I will fall for anything.
Due to the assault I was devastated. I felt unsafe, unloved, unprotected. It was like everyone saw me for my power, but didn’t see my pain. Even lawyers didn’t comprehend how to help me, “superwoman” at one of my lowest points. Since March, I’ve not been able to practice law, maybe it’s because of the PTSD, maybe it’s because it’s time for change. My finances have taken a nose dive, due to not being able to work, but I’m not scared or nervous. Through my therapy, I feel as though, the assault happened because I would have never willingly left the law because I loved criminal defense, the streets. I would have never stopped saving others, to ultimately save myself. But don’t we have to change ourselves first before we can change others? Or change the world?
Am I still supposed to be a lawyer? I asked God, because I don’t know. I once thrived off of the “drama” of being the fixer, but now anxiety has taken over. Student loan debt has me feeling trapped. Feelings of lost, but really found at the same time. Pretty on the outside but confused on the inside. Poised on the outside, thoughts of what’s next on the inside. Writing how I feel because it has to come out some way. The bible talks about seed, time, and harvest. One thing I can say for sure is that I have planted many seeds throughout my legal career, I’ve put in the time, and I will reap a great harvest. Maybe my legal career is just the foundation of something bigger, through God. As I sit here and contemplate, I go back to my question of what do you do when your dream turns into a nightmare? Well you can wake up, realize that it was just a nightmare, and just dream another dream. You don’t have to continue to live in the nightmare. Furthermore, you don’t have to stop dreaming. Following another childhood goal of mine to live in California, I left Atlanta for Los Angeles. For now I’m dreaming another dream and trusting God, all while forgetting the nightmares that got me here. To sum it up, this is life, nobody makes it out alive! (Smile) so keep dreaming & then go out of live that dream, you can do it. I believe in you!