Updated: Jun 24, 2020
I was never a bar-star but quickly after I arrived at the most popular nightclub in Calgary, mid-June of 2007, I had to do the walkthrough and check out “the meat”. I had just moved back to my hometown after being away practicing social work for 7 years. I’m making my way around the bar and I get stopped by not one, but two cute guys to chat (Good job Jody, you haven’t lost your touch, I’m thinking). Then another one his buddies shows up, and another, and another.
The conversation is fun and light, lots of laughter. As we all get to know each other, questions are being asked. I find out that they are bomb techs and they begin to share where they are from as they are here on training.
So I interject, “like, you’re all cops?” Now, I think for the most part the response that police officers get in a bar, wearing tight shirts, great smiles, and showing off their amazing muscles would have been along the lines of what’s known as Blue Fever. As they quickly answer yes to that question, I quickly make my exit cause I’ve been taught since the beginning of social work that these two professions don’t mix and the last thing I need in my life is a power-hungry control freak.
Fast forward an hour, I end up re-meeting Glenn, one of the bomb techs from above. We literally had a conversation where the entire room went black around us. He brought a mixed cd and flowers to our first date 2 days later and took me on a driving tour of where he grew up. In January 2009 Glenn proposed at Emerald Lake in -45 weather at the hot tub and 6 months later we turned up the heat and got married in Kauii with the attendance of 27 of our closest friends.
Thirteen years later here we are, 2 kids (8 and 9), a Tactical Officer (SWAT) promoted to Sergeant sent to work in APU - or Jail as they call it, to domestic violence, to staff sergeant in Incident Command to early retirement from CPS and now, an International Explosive Threat Mitigation Specialist with the United Nations.
CHOOSING TO BE A POLICE WIFE
It would be one thing if the life of a police officer could be wrapped up in a simple package like that - but let me invite you behind the scenes a little. Becoming a police wife means that I have more faith in my marriage than everyone out there. We are told from the beginning that divorce rates are nearing 90% (false, by the way). Add in beliefs about infidelity within the police force, PTSD, rates of alcoholism and my marriage appear to be doomed from the beginning.
I think I had 3 experiences that make my situation unique in being a police wife:
My husband was a police officer when I met him.
I worked in 911 for a period of time.
I am trained in social work - like police work, that becomes part of who you ARE.
Let me explain how these experiences make a difference in my marriage.
MARRIED CULTURES (1&2)
"My work is not in just protecting and serving.
It's preserving that buffer that exists in the space between what you think the world is… and what the world really is.” - @behindtheredserge
When you experience trauma your world view changes. Now imagine seeing trauma for 12 hours a day, 4-6 days a week for 25 years. For spouses that have to watch this in their marriage, it can be a game-changer. We fall in love with someone because of who they are but now they start a policing career. They begin to withhold work stories, seeing and speaking about more negatives in everyday life. Maybe coping goes down, alcohol use or isolation goes up. It can be a hard adjustment.
But for Glenn and I, he was already a 13-year member and I came with a world view from social work and a personal life of trauma. We kinda fit. We were also an older couple with “practice” marriages under both of our belts - we call each other out when we are hiding. We want to grow. We made a commitment to be authentic from the beginning - to ourselves and each other.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I knew what I was getting into for sure but it didn’t stop me from wanting to call the chief after Glenn came home after being on a 17-hour call-out to only be called out again 2 hours later with little sleep. Or the nights I would be left at events by myself or have dinners cancelled or no-showed. But I also continued to fall in love with the man who just “wanted to lead men” and do the right thing and make a difference each day. I wanted to be the safe spot he came home to at the end of the day to let him know HIS world was good and beautiful.
I also had the opportunity to work as a dispatcher and call taker for Calgary 911 after I met Glenn. I believe this gave me an increased level of empathy in our marriage as well as patience. I knew first hand what the calls sounded like, experienced the unanswered texts because of high risk call out, felt what it was like at the end of a shift to just run out of words and want to be quiet cause a radio was in your ear all day.
What we all bring to the table in a relationship, our story - makes our marriage… if we tell it. Do you tell yours in your marriage?
DON’T SOCIAL WORK ME
I can remember where I was standing in our kitchen when Glenn yelled this at me. Funny now! But God we did not like each other at that point in our marriage. We had two kids 19 months apart and I was hit with bad post-partum after our second, Gerald, and a case of Bells Palsy. Glenns growing issues with the job started when he was promoted out of TAC/SWAT to go to jail duty (APU)… so it had been growing for almost 2 years at that point. We both hit our critical point at the same time, both empty and both needing.
I think one of the toughest moments in a career is losing your purpose… your fire! We are fed this belief that if a job has a pension, you stay - even if it means a prison sentence (literal for us since he was working there!). Glenn and I had been trying hard to re-ignite his purpose in policing but deep down we both knew it was no longer there.
What being a social worker brought to our table was my ability to see the issue not interpret it as the person. I KNEW this wasn’t Glenn. The Glenn I fell in love with was still on the inside with his purpose. It was just hidden. We had to find the energy to go in and get it… But I had to take care of me first.
ALMOST A STATISTIC
Marriage is a decision to fall in love with the same person every day. So what happens when the person I am now choosing to fall in love with is myself? At first, it felt like an all or nothing option, if I am to be honest with you. Which meant to me that I had chosen to fill my cup and so my marriage started to crumble. I wasn’t looking after it anymore. Neither was Glenn.
I believed I was heading on a path to being a single mom… still believing THAT Glenn existed but it was no longer my job to find him. I kept filling my cup. I found my tribe. I started public speaking again. The fighting spiked, tears increased, we took a couple of vacations without the kids but never reconnected, money wasted. I kept meeting with my tribe, left 911, speaking more, getting recognition, my cup was filling. His friends started getting divorced. Glenn left twice, slept in his truck once, a hotel another time.
Then two things happened.
After one of my presentations, I had a phone call with one of Glenn’s newly divorced buddies. He has twin daughters. He had said that the hardest part about being divorced is that one of his daughters is a Mommy’s girl and the other a Daddy’s girl. So no matter who had the kids that week, one of his daughters was always sad.
I asked him what he would have done differently.
His response shocked me,
I would have fought harder.
It was then that I asked myself… I have been fighting for myself but have I been fighting for Glenn?
My cup started to over-flow.
NO MORE STATUS-QUO
I continued to work with my tribe, be a mom and then it was time to re-find the vision for my family. I was learning the language of higher-law and manifesting and abundance and I wanted a healthy, strong family unit to raise my two amazing kids in.
That meant getting Glenn out of policing and pursuing his passion. The bomb tech world is tiny and Glenn is talented, driven and a wonderful leader. Within months, he was contracted by a company to the UN, gratefully handed in his resignation letter to the Calgary Police and we began our Life On Purpose. No longer a Police Wife by title but always by heart.