I was in the shower this morning and a thought came to me: funny how that happens.
Everyone has trauma in their life. This is proven throughout the last couple of years with the ongoing COVID pandemic, with the injuries and firefights my son and others experienced in Afghanistan, and with me in my 26 years in law enforcement. As I travel and teach I talk to many people, even a seventeen year old kid at the pool at the condo I was staying at in Florida. He shared an experience, I listened, we shared together, and a bond, even though temporary, was formed. I am grateful for the trauma I have experienced because I have learned, I have grown, and now I get the opportunity to listen to and share, so others can learn and grow without going through the traumatic things I have.
More Shower Thought.
Even though everyone has trauma in their lives, we all react differently because experiencing trauma gives us choices. Some people have no idea what to do or how to cope and may not have the life experience to figure it out. They give in to their fear and give up.
THEY GET BY.
Some people push the trauma aside, go into survival mode and fall back onto old habits. They simply stay in the box they have created and are comfortable in. They go through the motions. THEY SURVIVE.
Others learn from the trauma. Learn from what created it. They then look outside their box and outside of themselves to improve their situation and their life.
A select few choose the route to grow, then look even further outside themselves at how they can use their experience to better the lives of others around them. To look at how they can help others get out of survival mode and grow. THESE PEOPLE THRIVE. THESE ARE THE TEACHERS AND HEALERS.
I was recently joined a group who meets on zoom every week. Most are military, public safety, retired military, or retired public safety. They aren't anointed as healers, They just live lives the way they want, but in doing so they have become healers. The difference in these people from many I meet is; there is no ego. They only want to improve the lives of people around them, and they do. I am grateful for the invitation I received to be part of that group.There are people from San Diego, Seattle, South Carolina, Utah, New Jersey, Texas, and many more. I am grateful all are willing to share so we all can learn. I am grateful for the vulnerability and the open, honest, communication they show and the example they are. I am grateful for their willingness to and the opportunity to listen.
This reminds me of something I read in a business and self growth article. Paraphrasing the article it goes, we become like the people we associate with. If we want to improve our business life, find people that are successful business people. If we want to have better relationships, associate with people who have successful relationships. Associate with people who are successful and we will be successful. I realized this a few years ago, on the opposite end of the spectrum, even though I did not phrase it as well. I was struggling after my divorce. I was alone, and had very few people to talk with or to bounce ideas off. No one, other then family, checked up on me. I decided it would be a good time to get rid of the extra baggage, as I put it back then. What I meant was, get rid of the toxic people in my life. The people who would take my time but not have the time to be there if I needed. After that, there were only a few people left, but those people are still on my friend list years later. I learned, and am grateful for the opportunity to get rid of the chaff, in my life. To be able to create space for people who deserve and want my time. The people no longer on my list have been replaced with people like the group mentioned above. People who symbolize who I am, what I want to be, what I am striving to become.
I learned that I am a spiritual, healing, loving person. My purpose on earth is to bring passion, honor, and love to those around me. As such I spread abundance, peace, and joy as I travel the world and teach. As I give tips and teach others how to reduce the effects of PTSD, teach them the things I learned after I built the walls years ago that led to two divorces, and then tore down those walls. As I share the things I have learned to have great relationships, in the hopes they will listen and see the value. The value manifested itself in my current relationship. But, it is their choice to listen, or not. It is their choice learn and to JUST GET BY or not. It is their choice stay in the box they are comfortable in and JUST SURVIVE or not. It is their choice to listen, learn, look outside the box and outside themself and TO THRIVE or not. I am simply the messenger with a message that is too important to hold in, too important not to share and if I can reach one person, I am a success. The world changes one person at a time, and if one person gets it, then the ripple has started.
I am amazed at the people I have met with similar desires and goals as mine. In general to make law enforcement and the world a better place. We each have a story, and there are many similarities therein. We each have seen things no citizen wants to see. We each have realized the business is a business and we are each simply cogs in the wheel that are easily replaced and once gone, not even given a second thought. It is sad as I see and have seen people chewed up and spit out by the law enforcement machine. They have reached their goal, retirement. Now they have no plans, no goals and turn to drink, risky behaviors, and die young. And no one gives them a second thought.
This then brings us to the buzz word of the day, Officer Wellness. This term was paid lip service when I was in the academy thirty years ago. A two hour class, with spouses included, talked about communication and the high rate of divorce in the business. They never told us how, simply that after traumatic things, we had to keep communication open with our spouses. Even though we weren't going to want to or couldn't share those things. Two divorces later, really, how'd that work. Hmmm. After the second divorce I taught myself to to rephrase traumatic events so they could be safely shared. My third wife, knows everything that has ever happened to me and everything I have ever seen. It works. I can only talk to so many people and COVID shut everything down as I had 24 engagements cancelled. Hmmm. How can I let people know? Outside my box now. Write a book.Use the time you have now. That's it.
My book, Bridging the Gap; An Inside Look at Communications and Relationships After Traumatic Events is now on E-book. It will be in bookstores on December 14. I have my book launch on December 14 from 5 to 9 MDT in Lehi, Ut. Hmmm, What do I do with that? Hors-d'oeuvres. What? I'm still a joker so.... cops vs donuts. Yep We are having home made donuts(even if they don't like them, they will appreciate it as a joke) along with pulled pork sliders and other appetizers. Then I have my first book signing at the Barnes and Noble in Cottonwood Heights, Ut on December 18 from 11am to 3pm MDT.
Appropriate since half the Civil War history books in my library came from this store.
Back to Gratitude. I am grateful I have PTSD but have learned to deal with it. I now can share what I have learned with others. I am grateful that I learned to teach, and can use that skill. I am grateful to be outside that tiny box I had built around my life. I am grateful for the opportunity to see the world and the wisdom to compare things that work with those that don't. I am grateful for the friends I have made and the people who have made it possible for me to travel, teach, and share experiences with others throughout the country. I am grateful for my wife and family, who support me in every way. I am grateful for my service dog who keeps an eye on me.I am grateful that I chose to take this on and am grateful for those who are willing to take a risk and look at the world with a new vision to perpetuate change in this world. Together we create a brighter new world as the peace within us works its way into the communities we serve and protect and eases the trauma that may be there.