After my husband read my post “No, I didn’t know” he told me how proud he was of me, then after some thought told me that he felt he should be upset that there was points made in my post, that he had never heard me say before. He said “why have you never told me these things before?” made me think, a lot. There seemed to be a common thread within the buckets of comments that followed that post. The strain on relationships is real. So I did some thinking and some chatting, and tried to figure out what the heck is our deal? Why are we, first responders so reluctant to tell the people closest in our lives about the things that stick with us daily within our jobs? Are we too afraid? Are we too lazy? Are we too brave? Are we trying to uphold an image that we are indestructible? I think it’s all of the above.
Consider this. We spend 12 hours seeing the not so great aspect life. (most of the time that is) We literally count the hours and minutes until shift change happens. While waiting for our relief to arrive, we look at the clock, then the door, then the clock, then the door, all while praying that the pager doesn’t go off. Because dammit, I want to see my kid before she goes to bed. Because dammit, I’m starving and I have no more snacks left and if I go to Subway one more time during this rotation I will actually morph into a Chicken Pizzola Sub. (they are delicious, you should try one) We glance and the door one more time, and see our relief pull in. And Hallelujah! Shift report done and I’m out! Ya, that’s right.
And it’s not because I don’t want to sit and chat, It’s because I’m completely full! I don’t want to recount the day. I just want to file junk away and get home to my family. I want to take off my gross uniform, put on some lulus and wait for the crappy parts of the day to slowly melt away. By the time I get home, usually, thankfully, they are mostly gone. They get stuffed in that messy unorganized filing cabinet that is becoming jammed packed of things that need attention. It’s getting more and more messy every day, but I don’t want to deal with it. I am not talking about papers here, incase I’ve lost you, I’m talking about that stuff that you acquire through out your shift. You know, it’s mostly that stuff that no-one told you about? (See No, I didn’t know in case you missed it)
Finally I get home, and despite feeling a little tired and rung out, I’m mostly happy. (I think) Except I’m tired and hungry, and that usually for me turns into HANGRY. Next thing I know, I’ve accidentally picked a fight with the husband, I’ve yelled at the kid, and the dog is hiding in the bedroom. What is wrong with everyone in this house?!!? Even the rabbit has peeved me off, because of his inncessant chewing! I’ve waited for 12 hours to come home and I’ve just ruined it. I suck!
For years I thought there was something wrong with me, or sadly them. It’s only recently I’ve learned that my messing filling cabinet was effecting me, and I didn’t even know it. So I felt the need to write a letter, to all the spouses out there, living with a first responder, that may or may not be dealing with PTSD or something similar. We all know you love us, and we know that sometimes we are not the that loveable.
We are sorry. We have not intended to shut you out. For you are the ones we need the most. We don’t share with you our day, because we want to protect you, and our home, and mostly ourselves.
When you became involved with us, what we forgot to tell you, is that we as First Responders, think we have a special skill, that makes us immune to the traumas we see and deal with on a daily basis. We think that together with our coworkers, we are dealing with it just fine. We think that talking through calls or having a good laugh at work is enough. Apparently it isn’t.
We are sorry that we are perpetually tired, that we get irritable. We are sorry that you have to tip toe around the house on a Saturday afternoon because we are sleeping. We are sorry that we always seem hardened, and brash, because that is a result of the heavy armour we wear. It’s uncomfortable, but it keeps us safe. We are sorry that we are over protective and always think of the worst case scenario. Because we have seen the WORST CASE SCENARIO HAPPEN. We know, that it actually DOES happen, and we don’t want it to happen to you.
We are sorry that it seems that we shut you out of things that happen during our day at work. We don’t want you to worry about us. We don’t want you to think that we can’t do our job. We don’t want you to know about what we’ve seen, or heard because we know you would feel protective towards us. WE are the protectors. That’s our job. Not yours. When we get home we don’t want to recount our day, because by the time we get there, we are ready to fall. We don’t want the bad things of our day to seep into the comfort of our safe place. That safe place is you, and the people we love.
We wish we were better at letting the bad out. We wish we could feel the feelings, but sometimes we just can’t. No-one taught us how, and no-one taught us it was ok. We sometimes think, we just wouldn’t know what to say even if we wanted to say it. We don’t want to hurt you, we want to protect you. We are lucky to have you, and cherish you as someone who loves us, broken bits and all.
Thank you, for putting up with us, and giving us a soft place to be. Thank you for loving us especially when we act unlovable. Thank you for seeing through the armour, and thank you for allowing us to take it off from time to time. It’s hard to remove, but with your love and support, it becomes easier to hang up at the end of the day.
With all our Love,