Pain is real. Some pain is easier to see than others. Some is easier to talk about than others.
The first time I worked a fatality auto accident was real.
The first time I saw someone who had been stabbed over a drug deal cry as he died on the pavement was real.
The first time I was shot at was real.
The first time I arrived first to a baby that wasn't breathing and I had to do infant CPR was real.
The first time I lost a friend and fellow officer to violence was real.
The first time I screamed at my family like they were criminals was real.
The first time I drank the entire bottle of whiskey to try to escape was real.
The first time I broke a criminals arm because they were fighting me was real.
The first time my partner had to pull me off of someone because I couldn't stop hitting them was real.
The first time I cried in my patrol car after a call was real.
The first time I put my own gun in my mouth and wanted to die was real.
The first time some one begged me to save their life while they were bleeding to death as I was powerless to help was real.
The first time I had to wrestle the wife of a man who was trying to get to her husband as he lay on the pavement was real.
The first time I saw someone die from burns was real.
The first time I was shot was real.
The first time I cried in the dark, alone and embarrassed because I was afraid of something after being shot was real.
The first time my daughter asked me if I was going to die today was real.
For many of those first times and so many more I can't think of right now there were unfortunately many more times; and though repeated experience may dull the shock of the moment it does not dull the effect these things have on who we are to ourselves and our families outside of the job and sometimes within the job.
I know now that I'm not alone.
I know there is hope.
I know now that there is a process of healing that I had to go through.
I know now that some of you need that process of healing.
Listen, we are not licensed counselors. Honestly, like many of you we likely wouldn't have gone to one of those anyway. Personally I couldn't stand the thought of getting benched or pulled from duty because some ass who had never been there thought I wasn't fit for duty.
Here's what we do have... Experience.
First hand and a lot of it.
We have walked everywhere you have walked. We have been heavily influenced by the job both inside our homes and outside them. We have been depressed, alcoholic, abusive, neglectful and suicidal. We know the process it takes to be whole again. We each have a story and a process that in our own lives has proven effective. We have also surrounded ourselves with peers who have proven this process in their own lives as well. Let us help you. Our stories are your stories. We have come from tragedy and darkness into a place of healing.
You can too.