Dealing with Demons - Leadership - LawOfficer.com

Dealing with Demons

My life fell apart; now I’m putting it back together


Bullethead | From the April 2011 Issue Sunday, April 17, 2011

DEAR BULLETHEAD:
Sometimes guilt, shame and work are ways of avoiding the pain, sadness and loss, but they don’t work well or for long. The only thing that works is to feel the feelings and cry the tears. Just so you know, your kids need to see how this is done, so they’ll be able to deal with death in ways that aren’t destructive. If you can find a way to do this as a family—or to at least let them see how this affects you on the inside—you’ll be helping them and yourself. Grief is not something to be born alone and in silence.  –KIM

 

Kim, thanks for the thoughtful note. It took me a few months to look at it and benefit from your wisdom. 

I’m not sure what happened to me, but I’m a mess. It wasn’t only the loss of our officer that’s sent me into a tailspin, but the guilt I felt associated with that may have let out a lot of other pent-up issues.

Ol’ Bullethead is a professional tough guy. My tough guy status goes back years and deals with all aspects of life. I’m not boasting, just laying the groundwork to show how these inner demons don’t care. I was in a military Special Ops unit, later I graduated from a prestigious university with high honors. On the job, I was recruited to teach defensive tactics and soon the SWAT team came calling. While working graveyard patrol with all these collateral assignments, I earned a master’s degree from another top university. My whole life has been about accomplishing the mission, whatever that mission was.

I sit here now alone checking my insurance coverage and trying to get an appointment with a counselor. I’m alone because Mrs. Bullethead threw me out of the house. I don’t know how I got here. I don’t know how I became that which I loathe. I’ve ignored so much of my own advice that the only label I have for myself is hypocrite. It’s time to turn both barrels toward myself (metaphorically) and let ‘em fly.

I’ve had my share of critical incidents. Some of these have stuck with me, and they show their heads at weird times. Regardless of guilt, shame or anything else, I’ve always dealt with them in the same fashion. At work, I blow them off and find the next mission. I could address them later when I wasn’t busy, but I always stay busy.

Later, when it came time to tame those dragons, I follow two routes. I hit the gym and work until I can barely move. Complete exhaustion brings comfort because it doesn’t let me go anywhere else.

The other route you all know. Maybe a glass of red with dinner—pour it a little heavy; it’s been a long day. Maybe a second glass, and if the missus was up, why not kill the bottle? These two routes melded into one. As long as I’m pulling off my usual achievements at work and still staying in better shape than those 15 years my junior, I’m good. But those dragons are still flying, and I haven’t given them a second thought.

We have home issues like any married couple. Somewhere the lines of communication broke down, and I was too pig-headed to realize it. We saw someone once, but it was a bad experience so I used it to define all shrinks. My reactions to these issues became completely inappropriate. I jumped on the Capheads instead of developing them and helping them with whatever they needed.

The small issues with Mrs. Bullethead also went unattended. Many of them were small issues, but they built up and I never got around to reopening the lines of communication to a point where either of us felt vulnerable enough to deal with them. Somewhere along the way I lost myself. I lost the man I thought I was and became who I am now. I am an idiot!

I’m searching for the reasons so I can find the solution. Maybe it’s the guilt and shame associated with various incidents. Maybe a loss of control I thought I should have at home. I’ll continue to achieve at work because that’s part of the man I want to be. It’s who I am. I’ll leave on time, though, and shut off the phone when I do.

I’m going to concentrate on rebuilding my family. I’ll keep the exercise but the booze shall be reduced to extreme moderation. I’ll find a professional to speak with and start finding the person I was and would like to become again. If she’s willing and after I fix myself, I’ll try to avoid growing old and angry—alone.        

 

Got a question or complaint? Let Bullethead hear about it. He'll give you his opinion WITH BOTH BARRELS. Contact him via e-mail at bullethead@lawofficermagazine.com or fax him at 619/699-6246.

 




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