I’m one of those people, the “brewers”. I can sustain myself by suppressing emotionally driven reactions for a good, long while. Age and life experience gives us the gift of patience, tolerance, the ability to think it but not say it….however, suppression is just a masking of your real emotions - Duct taping of your filter, if you will. Duct tape will fix almost anything, although it has no power to truly heal or repair a thing.
I know doing what I do gives me an insight that is probably not the best thing for a person like me to have. It gives me a look into the lives of others, into their homes, into their departments, into their viewpoints which are conveyed to me through their comments, messages and posts. I still question God (yes, I said question God, that would be that human nature thing) as to whether or not I truly heard this whole mission as He had offered it to me, or if in reality I was just really sick of working in law and mentally formed His own calling for me in order to have a reason to walk away from the concrete corporate jungle. For, I am a cynic. I have learned to look for the better side of life, despite the overwhelming urge to Judo LEOW Ninja throat punch life to death at times. I have grown into my determination to be a positive person. I have dedicated myself to being a better wife, mother, friend, than I have in the past along former legs of this journey of life. However, underneath all that conscious effort, there I am…the cynical me that years of loss, heartache, dysfunctional family, dysfunctional choice of professionally hand holding rich, divorcing whiners who have no clear vision of simple blessings has helped me become.
You can learn how to live a better life, you choose your own behavior, you and your thoughts and actions dictate how you will face each and every day, but all of those are choices, it does not change the core of who you are. There are no true saints or sinners in humanity – there are perfect souls, innocents which were brought into this world who through their own actions and life experiences live their lives as saints or as sinners. It is always a choice. A choice we as the occupiers of our bodies make each and every day. I’ve chosen to be a cynical person who suppresses that emotion for the sake of the positive, not a proud accomplishment, yet a constant reminder of the work of self I still have in front of me. Although cynical, with need of mental renovation, I still choose to live a positive life. I’ve learned that allowing my cynicism to take the front row of my theater has never resulted in a positive outcome. Although banished to my balcony, cynicism still has a seat. I hope to one day be able to say cynicism’s admission has been denied.
I receive countless messages each and every day, too many to keep up with, too many for those who help me to keep up with, and the recurring theme for so many who write me is related to their relationship with their LEO, their LEO’s behavior, their LEO’s attitude, the failing state of their relationship. What I hear so often is “I don’t know why we always fight, we fight about everything. Everything becomes a battle. He’s always in such a bad mood. Everything is negative. I feel so unappreciated. I feel he doesn’t care about us at home. I’m sick of his attitude. I’m tired of being alone. I’m tired of feeling like a single mother. I can’t deal with his mood swings. He cheated. I cheated. He’s an ass. He says I’m a bitch. His department treats them horribly and he brings it home to us. His co-workers mean more to him than his family, etc., etc.) I could go on for days, but it all boils down to the same basic thing – discord on the home front. And as simple as it sounds, for me it seems there is one thing which escapes so many relationships today – endearment.
I love looking at those interviews of the elderly couple. Those who have been married fifty plus years, being asked by the younger generation how they make it work, how they make the love last. And that’s just it…. the answer is they continued to love each other. We’ve forgotten what it means to love one another, to truly love one another and what exactly the definition of love is.
My favorite bible verse is about love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” That is the answer of the elderly couple, still so in love after all those years.
I’ve been told not all are as “lucky to live such a charmed life” as I. Not all have an understanding Officer Littles at home. I’ve been told time and time again I have no idea what it’s like to live with an angry, hostile LEO who is under such stress on duty from being in a crime ridden community with a horrible agency only to come home to a financial nightmare and a blended family not blending well and crazy ex’s and sick babies and baggage from past relationships tearing the family apart…. Those who know me know that is all far from the truth. Those who know Bervis and I know we too, just like you, make a decision each and every day to live a positive life, despite the negatives hurled at us, or we choose not to. We have made a choice to be in this crazy life together, we have made a choice to respect each other, to love each other, to honor that we both made a conscious decision to spend the rest of our lives together and to always remember to cherish each other. There is no “I give what I get”. There is no “what’s in it for me?” There is no “I’ll show you”. We have made a choice to live as one. We are individuals dedicated to being a united front on our journey of life….and we both took the hard road to determining that was the best path for us to take.
I married BL after my ex (was a Marine and Cop) had been sentenced to prison time after pleading guilty to criminal abuse and battery and stalking charges against me. BL had come out of a divorce and now found himself a single cop with two daughters to support and plenty of baggage with his ex, who he did his best to love and hang in there with and make it work, to no avail. His kids missed their family being together, they were struggling. It was no place to introduce the new wife on a happy note, especially a new wife with PTSD and fear from abuse and a lingering taste of blood in her mouth by a cop gone bad, now giving it a go with a good cop, all the while struggling with her own little girl growing up lost. Trying to save her, rehab, therapy, the stress of trying to save your child while maintaining your marriage and not leaving either any less of a priority. Watching my oldest, my baby girl, spiral out of control as my savings drained in an effort to force her to accept the help she needed, then losing her completely while watching your other children flourish. The battle against guilt in the pride for those still at home while living with never ending grief, and worry as you try and sleep each night not knowing if your child is dead or alive. Having to speak the words “she been missing for over a year” as the answer to “Where’s Lo, what’s she up to nowadays?” Getting the call in the middle of the night your prayed for in a good way and dreaded in a bad way, only to be left without her once again wondering, while still living in your happy family home with those who remain with a smile on your face and a gaping hole in your heart….. just as all the chaos with your baby boy begins to make sense finally. Autism, sensory processing disorder, speech therapy, occupational therapy….. bankruptcy, 23 years of 401-K savings used to live on gone in less than two years, losing my dad last year after not speaking to him in over a decade as the color of the skin of my family wasn’t acceptable to him, the dysfunction of my entire family erupting over me as I walked my black husband into the arms of my accepting mother in front of an entire family of bigoted ignorance at a funeral home so I could make my peace. BL’s mother losing her job, having severe diabetes and no place to live or insurance to cover her needs well before the age of retirement, a house with no room and a husband who is the responsible son taking on yet more responsibility for his family and now his mother. Yes, a charmed life we live indeed.
My husband has lived the LEO life for over 15 years. It’s not true that it takes a high crime rate to qualify you for the stresses of LEO life. He still has monsters in the night from the babies he couldn’t save, the dead bodies that were alive when he got to them but not when he left them, that famous lumpy head and Nike Swoosh scar on his forehead is a daily reminder of the road he’s traveled and the traction lost underneath his wheels, as are the steroid shots in his back to keep him walking a reminder, or being on scene with the parents of the teenagers who blew their heads off who he had mentored for years only to be left feeling as he failed them in the end. The memories of the times he lost his cool while still learning how to handle himself in the early days leaving him benched for 30 without pay, several times. The baby in the lake, the exposure to the meth labs, decontamination. The bloated dead bodies found on the toilets. The lady in the hoarder house and the dead things inside. The funerals of his brothers. The many, many funerals of his brothers.
I guess you could say I feel I have earned the right to be cynical. I guess I understand why I take offense when others tell me I can’t understand. I guess my marriage should be falling apart, I guess I should take it all out on BL, I guess he should take it all out on me. I guess we should be under no obligation to own our own personal struggles and take the personal responsibility upon ourselves to handle the stresses with dignity. I guess I could reduce myself and allow the emotions I feel to overtake my filter and let BL be my whipping post when my inner bitch feels the need for release. I suppose he could find an escape with a hot cop at work in an effort to avoid his mother living at home or his autistic son or his college age kids draining his already drained wallet that every extra security gig can’t cover. I guess we could both just act and behave in a manner which might personally make us feel better at any given moment. I suppose I could blame him for working so much to provide for his grown kids or to care for his mother leaving me with the stresses of my own for extended periods of time. I suppose the cold shoulder or nights on the couch or hanging out with those other than those we are supposed to come home to could be the answer. I suppose being volatile rather than responsive would be acceptable…. But it’s just not.
I married that man for a reason. He is the kind of man who sacrifices time with family for the sake of honoring his duty. He is ethical in that way. He is the kind of man who would never let his kids go without the college education of their dreams. He is the kind of man who will never leave his mother worried about a roof over her head. He is the kind of man who would take on a scarred, damaged woman and show her the kind of love that exists in this world. He is the kind of man who has nothing to prove but chooses to prove the best of him each and every day. He chooses to be that man, despite what life hurls at him. Life has hurled much his way. Is he perfect? Absolutely not, but he owns his moments when it all gets to be too much. He directs that emotion not angrily at me, but lovingly into my arms, the one person he knows has his back, the one person he can go to when he is overwhelmed. The one person he knows will be there to support him. That is a choice. It is the character he chooses. I choose the same. We both make a conscious decision through each and every hurdle to remind ourselves that the hurdle is our own to jump, along with our cheerleader standing beside us to help us down the track. We have chosen to rely on each other as teammates, we choose each day to tackle it all together. We choose to take the “me” out of “we” and we are dedicated to remembering and honoring who we are as individuals that makes up one half of that “we”. He is a cop. He will never be here as much as I would like. He will never be available on demand. He will always have struggles that I cannot understand. He will always have stresses which are not related to my own. He will always have a past with his ex. He will always have memories that are not my own. He will also always have what he chose in me. He will always have that fire in his heart which caused him to seek me out in the first place, unless he grows into a different person. He will always have that which he originally loved in me, because I will continue to choose to be that person who had all the baggage and fear and anger and cynicism but chooses to live in love and positivity despite it all. I will always be that person he fell in love with because regardless of what life has hurled at me, God has continued to hurl more blessings at me than I can count, and I will choose to be mindful of that daily.
Regardless of everything I’ve been through, the importance is in remembering what I’ve been brought through…. And what I’ve chosen to learn from it and how I’ve chosen to use all those experiences to remind me to try each day to be a better person than yesterday. Personal responsibility; owning your own actions; living with character despite emotional pain. They say you are what you eat….. I believe you are what you live. I choose to remember how blessed I am. I choose to remember how amazing it is to have someone to share that with. I choose to remember the worth of my partner and I choose to respect the "we" that we have built together. I choose to own my role in it and I choose to love my life. Food for thought. ©TPWL