So, lets go back in time and revisit history a bit why don’t we.
Being a police officer, or to be specific, a RCMP member, was a truly a childhood dream and I can tell you the exact moment that this become my lifelong dream. I was a young whipper snipper of a 6 year old, playing outside of my house with my neighbour when a police car pulled up infront of his house. The car was different then the normal city police cruisers. This one had a huge buffalo crest on the side and the police officer that got out had a yellow stripe down his pant leg, not like the city police. In fact, to my 6 year old mind, this police officer was completely different than any other police officer I had ever seen.
I told my firend that I had to go home for a second and raced into the house. I ran into my room and puled out my suit from the closet. I quickly got changed and headed back outside, I was on a mission. I don’t even think I had the time to tell my parents what I was doing. I marched over to my neighbours house and knocked on the door. When I was let in, I went right to the police officer to introduce myself. He stopped what he wasdoing (taking a statement from my neighbour for a vehicle accident) and spent the next 20 plus minutes talking to me. His actions that day set in motion my childhood dream.
When I was 12 years old, my parens and I took a tour of Depot in Regina, Saskatchewan. At one point in the tour, you end up at the Chapel, here you sit for a Q&A session. During a lull in the activities, I leaned towards my mom and told her that one day, I will be here as a Mountie. Fast forward 16 years and the next time that my mom and I were in the Chapel was on my Graduation weekend for the church service on the Sunday morning.
Well, childhood dream completed. I was in my dream career, fulfilling my promise I made back when I was 12. The rest was suppose to be gravy. But, apparently, there was another plan in story.
I quickly became aware of he realities that my dream career brought with it. There were the assualts, the injuries, the dead bodies, the pain caused by senseless violence, stopping cars in the middle of nowhere, knocking on door at 3 a.m. to make a Next of Kin notification and the countless other things I was part of. It didn’t take long for the affects to being having an impact. And, it also didn’t take long for the dark and sick humour to come out to protect myself and others. Not to mention the “choir practices” with other members where we would sound off about all the shitty stuff that happened and start “one upping” each other to tell the shittier story.
I remember the terror I felt when I was hit by a chunk of ice and knocked under as I was trying to save a man’s life. Much the same with the sound of a shotgun being fired at me or the high powered rifle bullet that I clearly heard wiz past my vehicle. I remember the times I fought for my survival against guys that were bigger and strong and somehow I got the better of. I remember the death threat made against my wife and I as well as when I was notified that a street gang had taken a $25 000 hit out on me. I still shake my head when I think about the pipe bomb and dynamite I held in my hands at a search site, which caused he evacuation of homes and business within a kiometer of the site. And most importantly, I remember that little innocent baby as she died.
But the problem with me remembering all these things, many in very vivid detail, is that they have turned that childhood dream of becoming a police officer into a nightmare that I am now living. Today, for the first time since May 2018, I went to my office to pick up some paperwork. I was a mess. I had a full blown anxiety attack on my way there, with tears in my eyes just thinking of going. Once I was there, i wanted to leave ASAP. I got my stuff together and left, not wanting to spend another second there. At home, the exhaustion kicked in and I am drained.
So, I now fear what I once dreamt of and it is now my challenge to get a control over the nightmare. Do I regret being a police officer knowing that the dream turned into a nightmare? Nope, no regrets at all. It is simply part of the dream, whether I like it or not, that I have to go through. It’s my new normal and I have decided to use it as catelyst to bring on the changes I need to make for myself, as well as changing the current views of PTSD and first responders.