On the Other Side of Retirement
Thank you for your selfless service and for sharing what it’s like now, on the other side of retirement- Badge of Life Canada (Submitted by Retiree July 5, 2015)
Normal was what life was like before I embarked on my 35 year Policing career. Two years as a Police Dispatcher & nearly 33 years as a cop. That “normal” is now so far removed from my memory, that I no longer remember what it feels like or even what “it”, was.
I’ve been retired now for several months and I find more so, now than ever before, that my thoughts are constantly filled with, & fed by a never ending flood of memories, of my 3 and a half decades career in Policing.
We’ve all seen the blood & gore. We have been to the; screaming hate filled domestics, the Fatal mvc’s, sudden deaths, suicides, homicides, and the usual gambit of crap that comes with being babysitters of the human race.
I’ve been; yelled at, shot at, stabbed, punched, kicked, spat at, hospitalized for weeks due to an assault that resulted in dozens of surgeries & a permanent disability, survived an on duty mvc that resulted in a death & a subsequent inquest that spanned over a year…. it goes on and on and on.
I was diagnosed over 22 years ago with complex ptsd. I sought treatment but that stopped after about 6 months as WSIB determined that I had reached MMR….maximum medical recovery.
So according to the “rules” that were in place I guess I was good to go again. More exposures, more crap piled upon more crap, but hey I was somehow coping.
Now I’ve retired. My coping mechanism of belonging to the brother/sisterhood, to the thin blue line has been severed. There is no going back. That chapter has closed.
I may have that retirement badge but it’s meaningless. It’s different now, very different. When you turn in your Use of Force Equipment & your “real” badge you also turn in your purpose, & what defined you as a person, in my case for nearly 3/4 of my life.
You are no longer a cop but you aren’t a “normal” civilian either. You gave that up when you got your badge, and besides you haven’t a clue what normal really is, so how the hell are you supposed to “fit” in?
In the months leading up to my retirement & since retirement, I have had intense flashbacks &’nightmares. The flashbacks have included a number audible “hallucinations” where I have heard gunfire outside my house. I have literally crawled across the floor believing that someone was shooting outside my front and back door. Nightmares of my assault, car crash & the guarding of a deceased 8 year old girl who had been raped & beaten to death. Nightmares of incidents that I hadn’t thought about for years, are now streaming back on a regular basis. I haven’t had a restfull uninterrupted sleep in months.
My social network is now gone & I find myself in near total isolation. I still talk with one of my former partners on occasion, but for the most part I am alone. I don’t trust people, I don’t like being in crowds & have had panic attacks when I’ve had to attend functions.
I am alone with my thoughts, my memories and I’m left trying to make some sense out of this. Trying to make things fit. Trying to get on with it. Trying to make it work. Trying to understand why I am the way that I am. Trying to change who I am, feeling tired, feeling defeated but even worse, feeling numb.
Numb. Not being able to feel enjoyment. Not feeling empathy. Being called the grouch or the grump by my family. The glass half empty guy….being numb to my sense of purpose, my sense of worth
Is this what my normal has become? Is this what I traded my “normal” life in for 35 years ago? Is this what I have to look forward to for the rest of my life? Is this my reward? Am I the only one that is experiencing this?
I don’t want any more treatment, I’ve been there & done that. I don’t want to stir up any more memories than I already have. I don’t want to talk about it. I can manage this. Things will get better.
After all look at all of those happy police retirees out there. They’re managing. How can they be any different than me?
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