Your significant other has always wanted to be an officer. They have that “first man in, last man out” mentality. They were born to do something heroic and brave. They have a heart that is so desperate to change the world that their career path is far more than just a job; it’s a calling. When they sat down to tell you that they were considering the police academy, your heart either soared with pride or sank with fear. For some people, it was both.
I didn’t know my husband when he decided to go into police work. He had already been employed by our local police department for several years before he swept me off my feet. When I began dating him, I really didn’t know what to expect. I was new to this world of extra precautions, unforeseen reasons for plans to be broken, and the stress that came along with dating someone that didn’t cope like I did. No matter how exciting my day was, I quickly learned that it failed to compare to the continuous adrenaline rush he experienced at work. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into but, all I knew was that I loved this man enough to go along with the ride.
And, it has been so worth it.
As I watched the events unfold on my television after the initial unrest that took place in Ferguson, I remember feeling so much anger. Mainstream media wasn’t just talking about Darren Wilson. It wasn’t a story that revolved solely around Michael Brown. It was a blatant crucifixion of the characters of the men and women I know and love. As I observed my husband watching the virtual slaughter of his occupation, I started thinking about you and how scared you must be. What kind of sacrifice did your husband or wife just sign up for? What did this mean for your family? Were you scared? Angry? Unable to process your feelings? As a veteran wife, I imagine you were feeling very similarly to me.
Let me tell you something. You aren’t alone. The world is scary. Blood is being spilled on the blue line at an alarming rate these days. It’s scary and I know that there are days where you want to ask your spouse to consider doing something that is a little less dangerous. The thing is, for the vast majority, they won’t. They aren’t going to let the world tell them who they are. They aren’t going to let the vocal and sparse voices of the few set the stage for who they are and how they will be remembered. They are going to continue to serve. They are going to continue to protect. They are going to still be the honorable and courageous person you married.
I said earlier that I didn’t know exactly what I signed up for when I married my husband. After several years, I can tell you now.
1. Family – I signed up for family. During the most difficult times of our lives, I can honestly say that we have never had to face them alone. I found an incredible network of wives that have come together to process the events of today. Find your community. Find your fellowship. Find people who understand you. You won’t regret it.
2. Discipline – I learned that I no longer just represented myself out in public. I represented my entire police family. Just like every officer in uniform represents their brothers and sisters in blue, I represented a family unit when I was outside the comfort of my own home. That is not a responsibility I take lightly. I hope I do you justice and I hope you will pay me the same consideration in return.
3. Introspect – Listening to the stories that these officers face has made me evaluate the things in this world that truly matter. You had a fight with your mom? It will pass. Had a flat tire? That’s nothing. There are families going through far more difficult things than just a few unfortunate events. It also convicted me to really dig deep and make sure that I was giving everything I could possibly give to parenting. I don’t want to hand over a broken life to a child who doesn’t deserve that. He deserves the best versions of ourselves and it’s our responsibility to give that to them.
4. Flexibility – I learned how to be comfortable by myself. I know that most holidays will involve me going solo with my little boy. I also know that my date night can be cancelled in a split second because something tragic is happening across the city. That’s okay. Yes, I want to experience those occasions with my husband but I also want him to be able to do what he is called to do without guilt or concern that he is failing me.
5. Courage – I found courage in my life that I had been lacking before. If they can suit up, day in and day out, I could muster up the courage to send them out the door. I could muster up the courage to support them despite my own fears. If they were brave enough to lose their life to their calling, I had to be brave enough to accept that possibility. That may be the most difficult sentence I’ve ever written but, it’s true. We have no choice but to be brave.
Basically, you aren’t going to ever feel like a regular person because, quite honestly, we aren’t normal people. We have to be able to bend, break and be put back together again. I just wanted you to know that you aren’t alone. If you are having a difficult time processing the news and the consistent tragedy that we wake up to every day, reach out. You can reach out to me or our group at Humanizing the Badge. You can reach out to your local Police Department and ask if there are services in place to help families cope with their fears. You can organize events that bring your police family together.
Being a police spouse isn’t easy. It involves so much strength. There will be days that you are afraid. There will be days that you cry. There will be days that you celebrate their heroics and good deeds. And, there will be days that you feel like enough is enough. There will not, however, ever be days that you are alone. Whether it be from the Midwest, the East Coast, or across the ocean abroad, we are all standing with you.
Your spouse is going to change the world. And, here’s a newsflash for you. You’re going to be changing the world right along side him.
Oh. And, hey……Rookie spouse…..#WeSeeYou.
Much love –