A Taste Now And Then Is A Healthy Thing

Police work ain’t exactly ice cream, chocolate and cherries. If it’s ugly, we see it. If it’s mindlessly violent, dirty, demeaning and dark, we roll in it, steep in it, and despite the thick skins we develop and wear like armor, the stains still seep through. Our divorce, suicide, drinking and PTSD rates tell the tale. Some cops shatter, some collapse and others throw down their badges and flee; not from the confrontations with crooks, but from the confrontations with themselves. Ain’t no demons like inner demons.

Christmas is coming — a schizoid time for cops. While yearning for some personal peace on earth and a traditional celebration of Christmas, for cops it usually means coming straight from DUIs and gory accidents, vicious family fights, Christmas-plunder burglaries, stickups of charity-serving sidewalk Santas and the sad spectacle of Christmas Eve suicides, to a family scene in which you’re expected to act as though your “cop world” doesn’t even exist. Lights twinkle on the tree, kids eagerly open gifts, loved ones plunk the bird and biscuits on the table, while you try to suppress mental video clips of cruelty and carnage, forcing a tight, brittle smile. Sound familiar?

We older badge-bearers work it out. We go a little nuts; just nuts enough to be able to separate the slices of our psyches; splitting our duty-blue selves from our other personas, just enough to carry on. But our younger troops — some of our older ones, too — aren’t nuts enough yet. They need an ice cream sundae … with nuts.

 

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