There are things about me that I don’t even know about myself.

So when you are trying to understand me, good luck. Half of the time I do not even know or understand why I do what I do in my personal life. Professionally as a police officer, I must know and understand why I am doing everything. In fact, articulation is my best skill and it is necessary to keep me and my partners safe.  At home however, I am someone else. This is a letter to the police spouse who needs to hear it.

At home I can be miserable, short, frustrating to be around and take a lot of things out on you that you don’t deserve. You should know that I don’t really realize I am doing it and I am telling you now that I am sorry (just in case I don’t tell you enough). When I am home, I just need to unwind, let loose per-say and allow myself to feel all of the emotions I had to tuck away this week at work.

For me to be effective in my line of work I must keep all of my emotions in check while I’m at work. While this may not sound hard to you, it is in fact very hard to do.

Understand this: since day one of my career when I see someone die in a horrible way or get beat up over nothing, I cannot act sad, mad or emotional. All the times I get yelled out, pull someone over to let them know they simply have a headlight out and get called every name under the sun, I cannot express my emotions. Or when my partner makes a decision to do something that isn’t tactically sound, but I have no time to stop him (or her) so I have to go along with it even though I am furious inside. Or when my Sergeant tells me to do something that makes no sense and even though I want to completely disregard the direct order I just go, not only can I not do that, I can’t say what I want to either.

I do not get to talk back to my supervisors and usually during calls I have to just listen to whoever is in charge on scene. I cannot let out the feelings and or emotions that I feel during some of the most emotionally trying times of my career. I must put those emotions in my pocket.  This is not how normal humans have to operate at their jobs, typically people get to express how they feel. I however, do not. I must not have an opinion about anything, on duty or off and especially politics or I will be under investigation within the department. I must not offer my opinion on anything while doing my job in our current climate because you never know who will get offended and how quickly that may bring me up to I.A.

Due to the fact I am highly trained at putting my emotions in my pocket, at home I can seem like I am a mess. Yes, a mess. And no, no officer will ever want to admit this is true, but it is. When someone is trained not to feel things and trained to become a robot but is still a human, those emotions will come out at some point. Unfortunately, those traits, good and bad, tend to be brought home and as a result you, my family begin to hate me and not want to be around me. Even though when you bring it up, I’ll get frustrated or short or I may not even want to talk about it, just know that I actually do know how hard it is to be in your shoes. Try not to yell at me because it makes me shut down due to the job. Talk with me in normal tones and share with me how you feel. You should know that you are my rock and I need you, but I need you to understand me too.

– Autumn Clifford