He was born on January 30, 2021 at 11:16 pm. Due to COVID and other travel related issues, it would be more than a week before I would finally get to meet my grandson.
Although it seemed like years, the day finally came when I was finally able to hold him. He was one week old, tiny and all I could see was my daughter in his face. As I looked down at him, I felt genuinely happy.
Happiness is not a feeling to which I have become accustomed. In May of 2016, I was ambushed, physically battered, and shot while trying to inform someone their headlights were not functioning – a ‘routine’ traffic stop.
As a direct result of this ambush, I developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
Like many other cops, I found myself dealing with regular nightmares, depression, anxiety and an overwhelming amount of fear. I was scared of everything. I feared sleeping due to the nightmares. I feared being in public because I would inevitably see or hear something that would send me into a panic. I feared being awake because of the intrusive thoughts and emotions.
I did not cope well. I turned to alcohol. I knew this to be a dangerous road, but I could not find any other way to numb the pain. As my symptoms worsened, my drinking became heavier. At my heaviest, I was drinking a fifth of Jim Beam every day.
One morning, after a heavy night of drinking, I awoke and for a moment. I did not know where I was. I sat up, looked around and realized I was in my bedroom. My head throbbing and in a slight daze, I struggled to remember any fragment of what had occurred the night before.
I looked around and there next to me on my bed, with a round in the chamber, lay my pistol. My memory returned instantly.
I remembered all the reasons I began drinking in the first place. I remember thinking that I was worthless. I was not strong because I could not handle what other police officers could handle and I was scared that I was an embarrassment to my family and others I cared about. I remember feeling such intense hopelessness that I did not care how, but I wanted it stop.
My last memory was my putting the gun in my mouth.
I cannot tell you why I failed to pull the trigger. I do not have any recollection of what happened after that moment. My next memory was waking the next morning to find myself lying next to the gun.
My guess would be I argued back and forth with myself about the reasons I should do it versus the reasons I should not before passing out.
While this was a very dark moment in my life, nearly taking my own life made me realized how ill-equipped I was to handle the reality of living after such a traumatic event. I now knew I may not make it much longer without professional help.
I had a choice. Swallow my pride and seek help or swallow the bullet and create a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
I sought help.
IS IT WORTH MISSING?
Last week, I got to meet my grandson for the first time. I sat and stared at him for hours. I saw my daughter, I saw her wedding, I saw her life, and I saw her love. I remembered how it felt to hold her as a newborn and I remembered how it felt to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day.
I got to see my daughter, now a mother, hold her son and explain how she wanted to read him the book, “The Pokey Little Puppy,” just as I had done with her when she was little.
As you sit here reading this, please understand I am not telling you that your pain will end and that someone can clap their hands and make all the issues in your individual situation disappear.
I am simply suggesting that without living, without making the CHOICE to LIVE, you absolutely negate the possibility of happiness greater than you may have ever known.
You are not alone! Help is Available! Check it out, here: https://relearningtolive.com/resources
“Above all, it’s about going home at the end of the shift … “
We couldn’t agree more.
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