A funny thing happened when I began dating my husband: I changed. At least, that’s how some people in my life have put it. Instinctively, I bristle, and want to say screw you, because that’s what comes to mind first. Granted, I’d be more likely to say it with my facial expression, and less likely to actually say it. I was raised to be polite, thank you.
But now, and over the course of eight years of dating/marrying my husband, I’ve realized: they are right:
I Have Changed.
Allow me to elaborate. Apparently it was under the radar, or maybe just due to my introverted ways, but I’d already been ‘changing’ over the years. I mean, I’d call it growing…evolving…maturing…but I guess that’s just semantics to some. Regardless, here’s a breakdown of my most significant changes:
I got married, and changed from a child to a woman-child.
Had my daughters, and changed from the closest thing I’ve ever been to a Liberal, to an ” I will fucking kill anyone who harms my child” kind of woman.
Over the course of my marriage, I lost my beloved grandparents, so I changed from someone who’d never experienced the death of a loved one, to some who discovered firsthand the meaning of the quote: ‘the price we pay for love, is grief’.
Then, I got divorced and started to change from a dependent and sheltered housewife to an independent caretaker and co-financial provider to my kids. It scared the shit out of me… and then I got married again. Too soon, too wrong, too bad. Divorce. Again. Which led to the best change of all: real independence. Real self sufficiency. Real grown up. If those experiences don’t change you, I don’t know what will.
None of that was as easy, or as black and white as I just made it sound, by the way.
But I have been blessed enough to have realized the trick to change- the positive growth kind of change- is the willingness to evolve, become better & wiser. That’s it. If you don’t, then you’re a fool who did everything for nothing. I’ll tell you: I have never, ever said, ” Poor me.” But I have on countless occasions though how lucky I am.
So, yes. I’ve changed. I have changed every single day of my life, and I’m changing still. Oh, and guess what? So have you. The ‘you’ I knew then, is not the ‘you’ I know now. It’s irrelevant whether we like the ‘you’ we’ve respectively become, because the only point here that I’m trying to make, is: we’ve all changed. Some of us are happy with who we’ve become, and some of us are not. I know where I fall in that category, and all I’ll say is that I wish the same for present day you, because I am the best and happiest version of me.
Oh, but you think it’s due to my choice in partner, right? Well, yup: you’ve got me there, because it’s true, these past eight years have brought wonderful changes in me. It’s a shame you don’t see it that way. Not for me, though. You see…
All of these lifetime changes led me towards making a choice to be in a relationship with a lovely man who’d long before me, made a choice to become a Police Officer. (The word “choice” gets a lot of emphasis by me because it plays a significant role in every story. Choices are what lead us to where we are, and who we are. Just thought I’d state the obvious.)
The moment I knew that I was in love with him, was when it became real. Like, super real. This was now a serious, actual relationship, and not ‘just dating’. The stakes were now higher, the possibility of loss realized. He knew all of this, and both tested me and prepared me. Rightly so, because Police family life isn’t for everyone.
Police life is different. Police families, are different. Yes, we look the same, and yes, generally and to the casual observer, we act the same. We can agree to disagree here, but I am telling you: from my experience and those that I know who live a similar life: We Are Different. And if you are to be a Police Officer’s wife, you are all in. All in, as in: you accept handcuffs and gear on your sofa every day, you don’t get pissed when he answers his cell phone during a romantic dinner, and you know that holidays, family get together’s, parties… may be spent without him, because shift work and criminals don’t care if you had plans. If you’re a Police wife, you don’t make him feel like shit for any of it, because you know it kills him to miss out on family memories, and not only was the job his choice, it was yours to go along for the ride. At least, that’s how I see it all.
My outspoken advocacy and fierce support for law enforcement officers stemmed directly from my relationship with my husband. Gasp! You are exactly right. I am personally invested. But FYI: You kind of really should be personally invested in your partners life, don’tcha think?! So, yes, my voice, my opinions, and my feelings grew along with the growth of knowledge, understanding, and influence of the inner workings of Police life, and my outlet has been social media, along with millions of other people who’ve found a figurative soapbox in the land of Facebook. And let’s be real here, buddy: If our opinions were the same, you wouldn’t be so annoyed about what I share.
That’s where it’s really at. Let’s not kid ourselves.
Oh, and you know, when someone says, ” Wow, she never used to have such strong opinions about Police/politics/religion…” I’d first and foremost like to correct them. Actually, I did. I just didn’t feel the need to share them. What makes now so different? Again: I’m personally invested, affected by what goes on, because it’s a little different when your husband’s workday consists of drug dealers, prostitutes, murderers, dead bodies, and gruesome car accidents, instead of…well, anything else. If that somehow makes me a hypocrite, or false somehow in your eyes, then let me tell you this:
I’ve never been in a relationship before with someone who has spent 30+ years of his life giving and sacrificing for so many who either don’t give a fuck, or just don’t get it. I’ve never before known a man who has seen the ugliest sides of human nature, and come home to be loving and compassionate partner and parental figure every single day. I’ve never known a man who would leave a steady career as a Police Officer to become a Marine, because he felt he hadn’t yet given enough. And I have never known a man before that was such the epitome of goodness. He grew up with with very little, and asked for even less. Everything he’s achieved: Rank, Commendations, Awards, Accolades, Success, none of it would he ever tell you about because he’s to busy asking you about yourself. Oh, and he has done it all on his own. All characteristics of a man that I thought only existed in my dreams.
So, you’re God damn right I will speak up on his behalf, and all his Brothers and Sisters in Blue who bring honor and integrity to the badge they wear. And, no; I won’t shut up about it, nor will I apologize for it. Now more than ever, because to put it crassly? They are getting shit on in the house of public opinion.
So, here’s the deal: This is me. This is who I am. This is what I do. I know you think you know me… because you once thought you knew me. You were wrong, and that’s why I’m correcting you. Thanks, I feel a lot better now!